Western Nebraska Community College had three sports teams earn NJCAA All-Academic honors for their performance in the classroom.
The women's basketball team, softball team, and baseball team all earned honorable mention team academic honors.
The women's basketball team had the highest grade point average among the Cougar teams, posting a 3.30 GPA. It is the third straight year the women's basketball team earned a team academic award. The 2016-17 team finished with a 3.10 GPA, while the 2015-16 team had a 3.32 average.
The women's softball team earned academic team honor for the seventh straight season. This year's team finished with a 3.20 GPA.
The Cougar baseball team earned the honor for the third straight season. This year's baseball team finished with a 3.00 GPA.
Chad Gibney, women's basketball coach, said it is a tremendous honor to succeed in the classroom and on the court.
"It is absolutely huge. It shows what well-rounded student-athletes we have at Western Nebraska Community College," the second-year women's basketball coach said. "They did a phenomenal job in the classroom, they put together an unbelievable season on the court, and they were great representatives of what we want this college to be."
Barton County Community College earned the top women's basketball academic award, finishing with a 3.72 GPA. All-in-all, 12 Region IX schools earned academic honors in basketball. Miles Community College had the top Region IX team with a 3.52 GPA.
Gibney said the season his team put together on and off the court was phenomenal.
"We were an academic NJCAA team, we received an at-large bid to the national tournament winning 29 games, and we moved on seven players continuing to play at the next level," he said. "Our last player [sophomore] has elected to go to nursing school where she will be phenomenal. To see our players move on, continue to be prepared to be successful at their next college, is something we are really proud of."
The Cougar softball team kept academics at a special level with their seventh straight NJCAA academic honorable mention honor. Iowa Western Community College had the highest GPA among softball teams with a 3.70 average.
For the WNCC softball team, head coach Katelyn Groves said it is special to see her team excel in the classroom.
"I am beyond proud of our programs continued success in the classroom," Groves said, "Being able to make the list for seven consecutive years is a true statement on the emphasis our program has on the STUDENT athlete. The hard work and dedication of our student-athletes in the classroom has shown through, and I couldn't be more proud to have been a part of it and have players that truly understand the importance of their education. It is also a huge testament to our amazing faculty and staff that put in the time and care to help our players (and all students) achieve academic success. "
Groves added that a lot of the success not only goes to the student-athlete, but the coaching staffs as well as the instructors.
"A huge thank you to our coaching staffs through the years for spending time with our student-athletes in study hall and on the road, our faculty, staff and members of our community for additional time outside of the classroom helping our athletes, and our student-athletes for their commitment to excellence in the classroom," she said.
There were three Region IX softball teams that earned academic honorable mention. Trinidad State Junior College had the top Region IX GPA with a 3.55. The other school was Lamar Community College, who had a 3.12 GPA.