By Rob Tucker
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -The good news keeps rolling in for Jamestown Community College athletics.
Just a few short weeks after learning that women's basketball and soccer team member Natalie Marsh was to become the first-ever local female athlete from JCC to earn a full academic scholarship to a Division 1 program, it was announced on Tuesday by the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association (NJCAA) that a pair of Jayhawks women's squads - basketball, and swimming and diving - had earned All-Academic Team honors for their hard work in the classroom over the course of the 2011-2012 school year.
More impressive, however, was the fact that the women's swimming and diving squad had collectively earned a grade-point average of 3.58, which, upon review of the NJCAA, was found to be the highest in the nation for that sport and earned it the distinction as the Academic Team of the Year.
The basketball team compiled an equally solid combined GPA of 3.40.
This marks the first time in JCC swimming history that a team was selected as the Academic Team of the Year, and it is just the second team in school history to achieve the feat. The women's basketball team was the Academic Team of the Year during the 2006-2007 campaign.
The distinction is a prestigious one, especially given the large number of teams in the running for the honor.
"Over 450 teams qualified for academic team accolades," the NJCAA National Office press release stated. "Nearly 60,000 student-athletes competed in the NJCAA for the 2011-2012 academic year on more than 3,500 teams in 28 different sports."
Given the youth on the JCC women's swim team - eight of nine swimmers were freshman - and the success that they enjoyed in the pool (they took second in the Northeast District/Region 3 Championship Meet), this latest accolade is yet another reason for coach Mike Giambruno to look back on the season with pride.
"It's a very big deal for us," Giambruno said. "I'm especially proud of the freshman. They did a really great job of balancing both their athletic and academic work. When I saw that (they had been named the Academic Team of the Year), I was really tickled."
Morgan Molfino, a sophomore from Jamestown and the most decorated swimmer in JCC history, led the squad with a 3.70 GPA while teammate Emily Windoft, a freshman and Southwestern graduate, was close behind with a 3.64. The rest of the group, made up of Kelsey Akin (Frewsburg), Danelle Turney (Jamestown), Courtney Magera (Waverly), Renee Massa, Brittany Ihrig (Fredonia) and Hannah Grable (Youngsville, Pa.) , also excelled in the classroom to help the Jayhawks earn the award.