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Jag track & field duo named academic all-district

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MOBILE, Ala. – Two members of the University of South Alabama men's track and field program were honored on Thursday with the release of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Capital One Academic All-District teams.

Jan-Louw Kotze and Zach Blahnik were named to the first-team in District 4, with both now eligible to be selected to the Capital One Academic All-America teams which will be announced next month.

In order to qualify for CoSIDA academic all-district honors, student-athletes must have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.30 or higher, be a starter or important reserve, and be considered a sophomore or higher both in competition and the classroom. District 4 includes all NCAA Division I schools in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

The selection marks the fourth-straight year Kotze has been voted first-team academic all-district. Not only did Kotze finish sixth in the discus at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship last spring, as well as earning first-team Academic All-American honors by the College Sports Information Directors of America last June, but Kotze received the Elite 90 award given to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA participating in the finals. The Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa native — who was also third-team CoSIDA Academic All-American while garnering honorable mention All-American accolades at the NCAA Championships in 2015 — won the discus at the Sun Belt Outdoor Championship all four years during his career, advancing to the NCAA East Region Preliminaries each of those seasons.

Kotze was also one of two recipients of the Sun Belt Postgraduate Scholar Athlete-of-the-Year Award awarded last week. He has now earned a $6,500 scholarship toward his postgraduate education. Kotze received his degree from South this spring with a 4.00 cumulative grade-point average while majoring in both exercise science and psychology.

Blahnik — who is receiving his first selection to the CoSIDA all-district team — returns to the NCAA East Region Preliminaries for a third time this week for the men's hammer throw. Blahnik's personal-best throw of 65.92m came at the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Championship two weeks ago and enters the competition 25th in the region. Blahnik stands second on the school's all-time performance list; one of five marks among the top 10 the fifth-year senior has recorded during his indoor and outdoor career.

After receiving his bachelor's degree in exercise science in May 2016 with a 3.75 grade-point average, Blahnik has been pursuing a master's degree while maintaining a 4.00 GPA at South to conclude his collegiate eligibility. Blahnik was named to the Sun Belt Academic Honor Roll in 2016 and the Sun Belt Commissioner's List in 2015.

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