Lawrence named cross-country All-American
Cherokee Nation citizen Sydney Lawrence, right, stands with teammate Abby Hoover after being awarded All-American medals at the 2017 NCAA Division II Women’s Cross-Country Championship in Evansville, Indiana. Lawrence and Hoover are the first student-athletes to receive All-American honors of any sport from Oklahoma Baptist University since it joined the NCAA in August. COURTESY
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Cherokee Nation citizen Sydney Lawrence recently earned All-American status at the 2017 National College Athletic Association Division II women’s cross-country championship.
Lawrence, 20, was one of two student-athletes to achieve the status for Oklahoma Baptist University. She and her teammate, Abby Hoover, are the first athletes of any sport to receive that honor for OBU since it joined the NCAA in August.
“It is a huge honor to be one of the first to receive something like this in OBU’s history, but I cannot take all of the credit for it. God has worked in incredible ways to allow me to be here at OBU and to continue to run and compete for his glory, Lawrence, who OBU recruited from Stilwell (Oklahoma) High School, said. “It was an honor to receive this because this was my first time to ever compete in the NCAA. All of the work I had put in since my freshman year of college to prepare for this opportunity paid off.”
She also thanked her family, coach and teammates for her and the Lady Bison’s success, which as a team placed 20th at the championship.
“My family has supported me through this entire process and helped me keep the right perspective about everything,” she said. “And also my coach and teammates, everyone’s dedication to being successful and also having the mindset of competing and living for Christ is what makes this team and program such a special and life-changing thing to be a part of.”
To receive All-American honors, student-athletes must place in the top 40. Although Lawrence said she was “doubtful” in the race’s beginning, she steadily progressed past other runners to the finish line in 40th place for the final All-American spot.
“I was kind of doubtful in the beginning of the race because I was hearing that I was in like the seventy, eighties and I thought ‘wow I’ve got a lot of work to do and people to pass,’ but I tried to stay focused on racing smart and being patient. I truly cannot deny that the Lord was at work and giving me strength through the entire race,” she said.
At Stilwell, running in Class 4A, Lawrence won state in the 3,200-meter and 1,600-meter runs as a freshman and was a three-time all-state cross-country runner. She also won a national championship as a junior. She excelled in cross-country after picking up the sport as a freshman. Up to that point she had concentrated on track.
She said she was also recruited by the University of Central Oklahoma and Stephen F. Austin and John Brown universities but chose OBU because of the people she met and its Christian environment.
As cross-country season closes, Lawrence said she’s had a successful season with awards and achievements, including All-Region, Great American Conference Meet runner-up, First-Team All-Great American Conference, GAC Scholar-Athlete, GAC Runner of the Week and NCAA All-American.
Lawrence said with indoor track season beginning she would work hard to meet her goals.
“It would be really great to go to the national indoor meet as well. The national standard is much more difficult than previous years of competing in NCCAA’s (National Christian College Athletic Association), but I am excited to have that motivation to keep working hard and meeting running times I never thought I could run,” she said.