INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 21) – MIT women's cross country/track and field senior Maryann Gong (Livermore, Calif.) has won the 2017 NCAA Elite 90 Fan Favorite contest which concluded on Thursday evening. Gong becomes the second MIT student-athlete to win the contest as D. Carrington Motley '16 (Pittsburgh, Pa.) won it back in 2015.
The Elite 90, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 90 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's 90 championships.
Gong, who received the Elite 90 at this year's NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championship, made it through three rounds of fan voting over the past couple of weeks. Gong advanced to the semifinals as she received 1141 votes only behind teammate Aidan Gilson (Florence, Mass.) of the MIT men's cross country and track and field programs, who claimed 1161 total votes. Gong advanced through the semifinals with the second most votes (1085) as she was just 76 votes behind Sam Merriman of Case Western Reserve University and two ahead of Gilson. In the final round, which featured the top ten vote getters from the semifinals, Gong edged Gilson to win the NCAA Elite 90 Fan Favorite Contest and become MIT's second honoree in three years.
Gong adds this award to her list of accolades this spring. The senior was recently named as the CoSIDA Overall Division III Academic All-American of the Year and as the CoSIDA Women's Cross Country/Track and Field Academic All-American of the Year – both for the second straight year. Additionally, Gong wrapped up her collegiate career as a 15-time NCAA All-American, a 3,000m NCAA Indoor National Champion, a six-time New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Academic All-Conference selection and as MIT's 2017 nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year.
During the 2016-17 academic year, MIT tied an institute-record with three NCAA Elite 90 recipients which included Gong, Gilson and women's sophomore fencer Helen Sakharova (Ridgewood, N.J.). Across all divisions, MIT is third with 12 awards and ranks first among NCAA Division III programs as Stanford (15) and Alabama (14) only have more Elite 90 recipients than MIT in the NCAA.