CANTON  Thanks in large part to a trio of Suburbanite-area athletes, the Malone University women’s track and field team was recently recognized for its academic success by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. 

Teammates Olga Branney and Erika Rector (Green), along with former Lake standout Jade Smith (Lake), as well as Canton native Hannah Thompson, each earned individual All-Academic honors while the entire team received the organization’s All-Academic Team distinction.

To earn individual honors, student-athletes must have compiled at least a 3.25 cumulative grade point average and reached a provisional qualifying standard for the NCAA Championships in either the indoor or outdoor season. For teams, the entire squad must have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

“As a team, we had an outstanding year in the classroom and on the track,” head coach and Green resident Mark McClure said. “All four of these young ladies always give their best effort and we are really proud of their accomplishments.”

Rector, a senior finishing out her career with Malone, collected a second-place finish in the 800 meters and third-place showing in the one-mile run at the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) Indoor Championships. At the conference’s outdoors championship meet, she placed fourth in both the 800 meters and the 1,500 meters.

Branney, with whom Rector was also a teammate for one year at Green, swept the G-MAC indoor and outdoor high jump titles and her season-best mark of 5’6” moved her into a tie for first in the program’s indoor record book.

Smith, a junior from Uniontown, earned USTFCCCA All-Region recognition in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. She notched a third-place finish in the event at the Great Midwest Outdoor Championships and later moved up to second on Malone’s all-time performance list in the steeplechase after clocking a mark of 10:46.86 at the North Central College Keeler Invitational in mid-May.

As a team, Pioneers women finished third at the Great Midwest Indoor Championships and then recorded a runner-up finish at the conference’s outdoor championship meet.