DecoraH, Iowa -- The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced that Luther College senior Johanna Olson of Wadena has been awarded a postgraduate scholarship.
The NCAA awarded 58 postgraduate scholarships of $5,000 each to 29 men and 29 women who participated in fall sports.
To qualify for an NCAA postgraduate scholarship, a student-athlete must have an overall grade-point average of 3.20 and must have performed with distinction as a member of the varsity team in the sport in which the student-athlete was nominated.
The student-athlete also must intend to continue academic work beyond the baccalaureate degree as a full-time or part-time graduate student.
Olson has a 3.71 GPA as a health major with a double minor in physical education and biology. She has attained Dean's List honors each semester at Luther and was selected health major of the year in 2000-01.
Olson completed her career last fall as one of Luther's most decorated athletes. She is a seven-time All-American and three-time Academic All-American in both cross country and track and field, as well as a four-time Academic All-Conference selection.
During her junior year in cross country, she won every race she entered on her way to the individual national championship.
Last fall, she became the first Luther runner to win three individual conference championships and the first to be named the Iowa Conference Most Valuable Runner three times (1999, 2000, 2001).
She helped lead the Norse to a third consecutive trip to the national cross country championships by capturing her second consecutive Central Regional title.
At the national championships, Olson earned her third All-America honor in cross country by placing 15th. For her efforts she was named the United States Track Coaches Association regional and national athlete of the year.
Olson's greatest achievement may have been the battle she has won while facing the diagnosis and treatment of a brain tumor twice during her career. Her strength and inspiration were recognized by the Honda Motor Co. in 1999, when she was presented the Honda Motor Inspirational Athlete of the Year Award.
When not spending time on her studies or athletic pursuits, Olson serves on Luther's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, and works as part of the community clean-up of Decorah roads. She is as a peer tutor, a Cardiac rehab volunteer at the Winneshiek County Hospital and frequently speaks at the Decorah Health Center and for the DARE Program at the Decorah Area School District and St. Benedict's Catholic School.
Olson is the 25th Luther athlete to receive this distinguished honor. As an institution, Luther ranks 22nd among all NCAA institutions for the number of postgraduate scholarships awarded.
A 1997 graduate of Wadena-Deer Creek High School, Olson is the daughter of Terry Olson and Jane Bagstad.
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