Laura VanHoevelaak figures making the Verizon Academic All-American Women's Track and Field Team for the second straight year is a fitting way to officially end her Southeast Missouri State University athletic career.
VanHoevelaak, who last month concluded a brilliant run with the Southeast track program, has been selected as a second-team Academic All-American. She is one of just 45 athletes from around the country on the top three teams.
"It's a good way to go out on that note," she said.
Achieving high academic honors is nothing new for VanHoevelaak, who graduated Suma Cum Laude in May 2002 with a 4.0 cumulative GPA while majoring in health management. Since then she has been pursuing a master's degree in nutrition and exercise science while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA in that area.
VanHoevelaak is a four-time Southeast scholar athlete and Ohio Valley Conference Medal of Honor winner. She was honored this year as an OVC scholar athlete, the highest academic honor in the OVC.
"I'm very proud of my academics," VanHoevelaak said. "I'm proud I've been able to handle both the academics and athletics."
While earning numerous all-OVC honors on the track, VanHoevelaak this year qualified for the first-year NCAA regional meet in the 400-meter hurdles and on the 1600-meter relay team. Her 400 hurdles time of 1:00.28 at the regional was a career best and the second-best in school history.
"To get a chance to compete in the regionals and then to have my best time was great," VanHoevelaak said. "I had my family there, and it was neat to do well in my last meet."
VanHoevelaak, who has one year of graduate school remaining, said juggling athletics and academics received a major test this year while she completed her final season of athletic eligibility.
"My last year was probably the toughest because I was in graduate school and I had a graduate assistant position. I taught classes and did research," she said. "It was tough to find the time to do everything, but the coaches were real good with me. They allowed me to practice some in the mornings and work around my schedule."
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