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Team USA Minnesota's Annie Bersagel Named 2006 NCAA Woman of the Year
by: Team USA Minnesota 

Minneapolis/St. Paul - Oct. 30, 2006 - Annie Bersagel, a former cross country, indoor and outdoor track student-athlete at Wake Forest University, is the 2006 NCAA Woman of the Year.  Bersagel, who now runs for Team USA Minnesota, received the award at the 16th annual NCAA Woman of the Year Awards Dinner in Indianapolis on Oct. 28.

The award, one of the most prestigious that the NCAA bestows, honors female student-athletes who have completed their eligibility and demonstrated academic and athletics excellence, as well as community service and leadership.  Bersagel, a Greeley, Colo., high school graduate who also attended school in Apple Valley, Minn., from 7th through 9th grade, is the first Woman of the Year from Wake Forest and the sixth cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field student-athlete to receive the award. 

Bersagel was an economics and political science double-major who graduated with honors in December 2005.  She received an NCAA postgraduate scholarship and was named an NCAA Walter Byers Scholar in 2006.  As a Colorado state finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, Bersagel was a four-time Edwin G. Wilson Wake Forest Scholar Athlete of the Year.  Bersagel is currently in Norway on a Fulbright scholarship where she is studying at the University of Oslo.  She will return to Minnesota in May 2007.

"As female student-athletes, we owe a tremendous debt to the women who came before us and paved the way for participation in collegiate athletics," Bersagel said.  "While at Wake Forest, I was fortunate to work with Coach Annie Bennett, a former NCAA champion.  Through her example, I learned to be more assertive in my racing tactics and approach each competition with calm confidence.  That sense of empowerment could not help but spill into the rest of my life as well."

Bersagel was a three-time Atlantic Coast Conference cross country performer of the week recipient, and she holds school records in outdoor track in three events - 3000 meters, 5000 meters and 10,000 meters.  She was also named the national female athlete of the week by the U.S. Track Coaches Association.  Among her many leadership positions, she was the U.S. representative on the global economics trade panel at the NATO Youth Summit on Anti-Terrorism, an intern for the Faith in Action national office, and an intern at the U.S. State Department Embassy in Oslo.  During college, Bersagel was also a Headstart volunteer and a volunteer tutor for the Forsyth County public schools, among other activities.

 Since joining Team USA Minnesota last January, Bersagel placed 10th at the USA Cross Country Championships 8k, was a member of the U.S. team competing at the Yokohama International Women's Ekiden, and won the USA Women's Half Marathon Championship.  She also qualified for and competed in the 10,000 meters at the USA Outdoor Championships and was a member of the U.S. World Road Running 20k team.

While training and competing in 2006, Bersagel was a public policy aide for the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota, representing the organization during the state legislative session from February through May.

About Team USA Minnesota

Team USA Minnesota is based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.  Formed in 2001, the purpose of the nonprofit training center is to improve post-collegiate American distance running and to develop Olympians.  The athletes are coached by Dennis Barker, head cross country and track coach at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.  Team USA Minnesota's major sponsor is Life Time Fitness (www.lifetimefitness.com).  It is also supported by the USA Distance Project, presented by the New York Road Runners, which is a partnership of the Long Distance Running Divison of USA Track & Field and major U.S. events and running related corporations.  For more information, visit the web site at www.teamusaminnesota.org.


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