CANTON A pair of Suburbanite-area athletes were among a trio of Malone University track and field athletes honored by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for their academic accomplishments.
Olga Branney (Green HS), Jade Smith (Lake HS) and former GlenOak standout Hannah Thompson received the USTFCCCA’s All-Academic Award. To receive the distinction, student-athletes must have compiled a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and reached a provisional or automatic qualifying standard for the NCAA Championships in either the indoor or outdoor season.
Branney, a sophomore accounting and finance major, is a four-time Great Midwest Athletic Conference High Jump champion, having claimed the conference’s indoor and outdoor titles in both 2017 and 2018.
Her sophomore season included breaking the Malone and G-MAC all-time indoor high jump records in February with a leap of 5’7" and Branney also owns the conference’s outdoor high jump record at 5’5".
Smith, a senior from Uniontown, graduated in May with a degree in accounting and business administration and spent her spring both working full-time and competing for the Pioneers.
She earned All-Midwest Region honors in the 10,000 meters and 3,000-meter steeplechase during the outdoor track and field season and also placed third in the 5,000 meters, fifth in the mile and fifth in the 3,000 meters at this year’s G-MAC indoor championship meet.
At the conference outdoor meet, she took second in the 5,000 and third in the steeplechase and based on her success during the season, she earned a chance to compete at the 2018 NCAA Division II outdoor national championships in the 10,000 meters and was Malone’s 2018 nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
For Smith, the honor puts a cap on a Malone career that was a success on and off the track, while Branney will have two seasons to build on her success as she tries to become the last former Green girls track star to achieve not only local, but national success after high school.
All three student-athletes were previously named to the Great Midwest All-Academic Team earlier this year.