CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After wrapping up the 2016 campaign at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championship a few weeks ago, MIT junior Maryann Gong (Livermore, Calif.) and senior Nicole Zeinstra (Holland, Mich.) have both been named Cross Country/Track and Field Academic All-Americans this year as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Gong, who earns her second straight nod to the CoSIDA Academic All-America first team, became the first student-athlete in program history to be named as the Division III Women's Cross Country/Track and Field Academic All-American of the Year. Zeinstra, who was placed on the third team, earns her first career CoSIDA Academic All-America honor after a great senior year.
With two women's selections and four men's selections from the cross country and track and field programs this year, MIT has now totaled 250 Academic All-America accolades, helping the Engineers continue to be the all-time Division III leader in producing Academic All-Americas in addition to ranking third across all NCAA divisions. Just this year, MIT totaled 17 Academic All-Americans across 38 sports recognized by CoSIDA.
Between her time on both the cross country and track and field teams, Gong has totaled 12 All-America accolades - ten in track and two in cross country. This year Gong won three individual invitational titles – only the third in program history to do so - including her New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship, NCAA Division III New England Cross Country Championship and her first place finish at the Connecticut College Invitational.
On the track this season, Gong became an All-American in the 3,000-meter run, the distance medley relay (DMR) and the mile at the NCAA Division III Indoor Championship. The junior finished second in the 3,000m (9:34.99), third in the mile (4:54.67) and teamed up for a sixth place finish in the DMR (11:52.29). At the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championship, Gong crossed the line 14th overall in the 10,000-meter run in 38:11.44. Gong has qualified for eight NCAA Championships thus far into her collegiate career and is a four-time NEWMAC Academic All-Conference selection. When Gong isn't running, she is an SQA Intern at A4 Data Technology and is completing research on using machine learning to prescreen for language developmental disorders in children.
Zeinstra, a chemical-biological engineering and biology major, helped MIT women's cross country and the indoor track and field teams to third place and fifth place finishes, respectively, at the NCAA Division III Championships. Along with Gong, Zeinstra was an All-American in the DMR at the Indoor Track and Field Championship back in March and has competed in seven NCAA Championship events over her four year career. This fall, Zeinstra finished fifth overall at the NEWMAC Cross Country Championship for All-Conference honors. She has also been named three-times as an All-Region cross country student-athlete in her career.
Off the track, Zeinstra is the Vice President and Treasurer of the MIT Undergrad Biochemistry Association, the Treasurer of MIT Best Buddies and the Associate Advisor for MIT Chemical Engineering Department. The senior is also a Research Assistant at Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Research Assistant at Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and most recently was one of three MIT student-athletes to earn an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
CoSIDA, which began its recognition of NCAA scholar athletes in the 1950's, has honored thousands of deserving recipients across all divisions in 12 sports. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.30 on a 4.00 scale, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing at his/her institution and be nominated by his/her Sports Information Director.