Photo (L-R): Northern Arizona University President Dr. Rita Cheng, Golden Eagle Awards Founder Ginny Clements, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Lisa Campos, Chelsea Jackson
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The 38th annual Golden Eagle Awards luncheon was held on Wednesday at the NAU High Country Conference Center with a total of 187 Northern Arizona student-athletes being honored for their scholastic and athletic achievements. Senior diver Chelsea Jackson and senior distance runner Alejandro Montano were selected as the Scholar-Athletes of the Year during another outstanding luncheon.
The Golden Eagle Awards recognizes Northern Arizona University's student-athletes who maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in the classroom. The Golden Eagle Awards were first presented in the spring of 1979 as a way to honor athletes who maintained high levels of scholastic achievement while performing with distinction in NAU's athletic programs. It has since become an integral part of tradition at NAU and more than 2,800 Golden Eagle Awards have been presented over last 37 years.
Jackson took home the top female honor on Wednesday – just another distinction in a decorated career with the NAU swimming & diving team. Jackson, born and raised in Flagstaff, carries a 3.78 GPA as a biology major and chemistry minor and picked up her fourth overall Golden Eagle Scholar Athlete award. In addition to being a four-time WAC All-Academic selection, she is also slated to become a four-time Honorable Mention Scholar All-American by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. In competition, Jackson received 10 All-WAC honors at the conference championships over her career and was the 2015 3-meter WAC gold medalist. She will leave NAU with the second highest 3-meter and platform scores and third highest 1-meter score in school history and was a four-time NCAA Zone Diving qualifier and eight-time WAC medalist.
"I was super surprised when I was told I would be receiving this award," Jackson said. "It's rewarding to see my hard work being recognized and I'm very grateful for everyone at NAU who have helped me get this far. The Golden Eagle event is so cool because it recognizes all of our athletes who work hard in the classroom. Academics is the important part that will get us all far in life."
Montano wrapped up his athletic career with the NAU cross country team in the fall before graduating in December with a degree in mechanical engineering and a 3.86 GPA. A consistent honoree for the AD Honor Roll, Dean's List, Big Sky All-Academic teams and Golden Eagle Awards, Montano has since found an engineering job in Montana and was unable to be in attendance on Wednesday. During his career, he scored for the Lumberjack cross country team at the 2014 NCAA Mountain Regional and also competed at the NCAA Championships in 2012 and 2014. As a member of the track & field teams, the Tucson, Ariz. native medaled and earned all-conference accolades in the 5,000m run during the 2013 indoor season and the 10,000m run during the 2013 outdoor season.
All 15 of NAU's athletic programs were represented and honored during Wednesday's luncheon with the football team producing a department-high 36 honorees. The soccer team was not far behind with 34 as was the women's cross country and track & field program with 31. Three teams – women's tennis (eight of 10), golf (seven of eight) and women's basketball (10 of 13) – nearly pulled off perfect representation of their rosters.
For a full list of all 187 Golden Eagle recipients for 2015-16, please click on the link at the top of the page.