One year ago, Michaela Mast (Broadway, Va./Eastern Mennonite) had never run in a competitive race. Now the Eastern Mennonite University senior has wrapped up an incredible first season by being named to the Google Cloud Academic All-America Second Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Mast, who was recently named EMU's Female Athlete of the Year, quickly established herself as one of the region's best cross country runners, finishing All-ODAC First Team and All-South/Southeast Region. She was the runner-up at the last fall's ODAC Championships and was named the ODAC Rookie of the Meet and Rookie of the Year. Mast's success carried over into track season where she had the No. 5 time in the ODAC in the indoor 3000m.
She graduated from EMU this spring with a 4.00 GPA as a psychology major. One of Eastern Mennonite's elite Yoder Scholars, Mast also had minors in neuroscience and music. She was a USTFCCCA All-Academic Team honoree and studied in the Middle East in the spring of 2016 as part of EMU's cross cultural study program. On campus, Mast was a member of Emulate, a select eight-member singing group, as well student groups Sustainable Food Initiative and Coalition for Climate Justice.
Hannah Chappell-Dick, who served as interim cross country coach and herself was an Academic All-America honoree as a student-athlete in 2015, said Mast has an inner drive to succeed in whatever she does.
"Michaela came to our program as a senior having never run competitively in her life," Chappell-Dick explained. "She has a humble spirit, but she is driven by an inner fire that was contagious to her teammates. She handled both her successes and her disappointments with grace and worked incredibly hard to make it as far as she did in such a short time with the sport. It was a joy to walk with Michaela as she developed and nurtured her passion for running and for her teammates."
Cross country and track & field assistant Joanna Friesen added that Mast embodies an ideal student-athlete.
"Michaela is well-rounded, and pursues both academic and athletic excellence with vigor," said Friesen. "In her time on the team she has shown leadership, relational wisdom, and fortitude in training - she has been a cornerstone of the team in performance and in being a supportive and encouraging teammate. Michaela has a spirit of curiosity and commitment; exploring new ideas and interests, and intentionally committing to those pursuits that she finds passion in. Running is one, along with music, environmental studies, neuroscience, psychology, and many others."
Mast was one of 19 women with a perfect 4.00 GPA among the 48 named to the three Academic All-America teams.
CoSIDA has honored 13 Eastern Mennonite athletes as Academic All-Americans, all since 1985. The Royals have had five honorees over the past four years. Click here to see the all-time list of Academic All-America award winners.