ROCK HILL, S.C. --- Tusculum University's Nicole McMillen has been named the 2019 South Atlantic Conference Women's Cross Country Scholar Athlete of the Year announced league officials on Thursday.
McMillen becomes the first TU student-athlete in school history to garner SAC Scholar Athlete of the Year accolades in separate sports. She was named the SAC Scholar Athlete for Women's Track & Field this past spring.
She also becomes the third women's cross country runner in program history to earn this honor joining former TU standouts Heather Rhoton (1999) and Jenny Grant (2012).
The Pickering, Ontario, Canada native graduated from Tusculum last May with a degree in business management, posting a 3.92 cumulative grade point average. She is pursuing her master's degree in business administration. She is a member of the SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll, Tusculum Athletic Director's Honor Roll, Dean's List, President's List, Charles Oliver Gray Honors List and the Alpha Chi Honors Society.
"Nicole continues to be a great representative of Tusculum University," said Tusculum cross country coach Cory Pratt. "She's been remarkable as an athlete, but more importantly she's an accomplished student. She's obtained her bachelors and is working on an MBA while competing at the highest level."
McMillen accounted for one of the best season's ever by a Tusculum harrier this fall. She ran in seven races where she recorded four wins and two runner-up performances and has finished in the top-five in eight of her 10 career starts.
She won her first race by more than a minute and setting a course record by nearly 30 seconds at the Zaxby's Open. Two weeks later, she finished second by less than a second at the Wingfoot Classic in Atlanta then came back to win the Blue Division race at the Live in Lou Classic by more than 11 seconds in a field of 531 competitors. She capped the regular season with a win at the Bobcat Invitational at Georgia College by more than a minute and a half, establishing a course record by nearly 50 seconds.
McMillen recorded her fourth individual title of the season by winning the SAC Championship by more than 25 seconds, covering the six-kilometer course in 21:37.4. She finished fifth at last year's SAC Championship in her first collegiate race. She becomes the first Pioneer to earn SAC Women's Cross Country Runner of the Year honors since SAC Hall of Famer Amanda Musick (Hale) in 2003.
Two weeks later she claimed runner-up honors at the NCAA II Southeast Region Championship and qualify for nationals for a second consecutive year. She finished the regional in 21:02.1, trimming 35 seconds off her time from the SAC Championship which was also held at the Wingate University XC Facility.
She finished 92nd at last month's NCAA II National Championship in Sacramento, California becoming the second TU cross country runner to compete at nationals multiple times.
During her brief cross country career, she has garnered All SAC first team and All-Region first team laurels in 2018 and 2019. She played four seasons on the Tusculum women's soccer team where she earned a spot on the 2018 CoSIDA Academic All-America® women's soccer second team.
She has also shined on the Tusculum Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field teams for two years as a distance runner. McMillen was named the SAC Women's Outdoor Championship Track Athlete of the Meet after earning gold in three events: 3,000 meter steeplechase, 1,500 meter and 5,000 meter runs. She earned All-American honors in the steeplechase as she finished sixth at the NCAA II National Championship in Kingsville, Texas last May, becoming the first TU female track & field All-American in program history. She also earned USTFCCA All-Region honors in the steeplechase, 1,500 meter and 5,000 meter runs. For her efforts, she was named to the 2019 CoSIDA Academic All-America® Women's Cross Country and Track & Field first team.
In 2018-19 she was named the South Atlantic Conference International Woman of the Year and was the co-recipient of the Tusculum Female Athlete of the Year Award.
The South Atlantic Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year award is presented annually to one student-athlete in each of the Conference's championship sports, and is voted on by the SAC's Faculty Athletic Representatives Committee. The winners are selected based on their achievements in academics, athletics, service and leadership.