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Student-athletes earn high honors

Two Northeastern University student-athletes have been recognized by the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) conference for outstanding achievement on the field and in the classroom.

Sophomore cross country runner Eric Jenkins was named the 2011 CAA Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year, and senior field hockey player Kaela Barker was named the 2011 CAA field hockey Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun met with both Jenkins and Barker on Jan. 18 to congratulate them on their honors and to discuss their future athletic and academic aspirations.

Jenkins led his team to a program-best third-place finish in the CAA Cross Country Championships, held in Georgia on Oct. 29. The second-year sensation, who was named CAA Rookie of the Year last season, earned the individual conference crown by winning the eight-kilometer (five-mile) race with a time of 24:56.

His 11th place finish in the 10-kilometer race at the 2011 NCAA Regional Championship hosted by the University at Buffalo on Nov. 12 secured the cross country star a spot in 2011 NCAA Championship in Terre Haute, Ind.

The second-year harrier, who was the only CAA runner to compete in the nationals, bettered nearly three-quarters of the 252-man field by finishing in 67th place with a time of 30:31:5.

Jenkins, a Portsmouth, N.H. native who started running cross country in middle school, expressed great pride in being the first Husky to compete in the championship since 1993.

“It’s good to put Northeastern’s program back in the race,” said Jenkins, whose long-term goal is to compete in the 1,500-meter race in the Olympics. “It was a culmination of a lot of hard work.”

Jenkins plans to increase his summer running routine from about 50 miles per week to 60 or 70 miles per week in preparation for next fall’s cross country season. As he put it, “I have to make sure to keep the miles high.”

Barker, a health science major with a 3.6 GPA, has made the Dean’s List in all six semesters at Northeastern. The academic star is a three-time CAA Commissioner’s Academic Award recipient and a two-time recipient of Northeastern’s Top Dogs Award, which recognizes student-athletes who earn at least a 3.8 GPA for the semester.

Barker takes pride in achieving academic success. As she put it, “It’s important to be well-rounded and I can’t exactly go pro in field hockey.”

Last semester, the North Vancouver native applied to the graduate program in human nutrition at the University of British Columbia. She would like to become a registered dietician and work with impoverished communities in third-world countries, where, she said, “I could really help people.”

The midfielder, who earned 2008 CAA Rookie of the Year accolades and scored 17 goals and 20 assists in 81 games for the Huskies, finds parallels between achieving success on the field and in the classroom. “If you work hard enough, you can achieve anything you want,” she said.