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ACC earns academic all-American honors, posts nation’s highest GPA

News Photo by James Andersen The Alpena Community College cross country team was honored on Tuesday for earning academic all-American honors for the sixth consecutive year. The Lumberjacks’ cumulative GPA was 3.852, the highest in the nation among junior colleges. Pictured left to right are: Coach Mark Jacobs, Duncan Ross, Runi Demirkol, Musa Kabbah, Teddy Peters, Connor Bagnell, Yuki Nishibashi, Nate Robey, and John Seigert.

When he was hired as Alpena Community College’s cross country coach in 2012, Mark Jacobs made sure that his teams would be as successful in the classroom as they were on the course.

The Lumberjacks have risen to the occasion, year in and year out, setting a goal of earning academic all-America honors every season.

ACC met their goal against this season–the sixth consecutive time the program has done so–but the Lumberjacks set an even higher standard after having the highest grade point average of any junior college in the nation, leading the way with an overall 3.852 GPA.

The team was honored Tuesday during a small ceremony at ACC.

“I’ve been coaching pretty much all my life and this is probably my most proud moment,” Jacobs said. “The first thing we do, the first day of camp, our first goal is to be academic All-American.”

Jacobs praised his team–which includes team members John Siegert, Nate Robey, Yuki Nishibashi, Connor Bagnell, Teddy Peters, Musa Kabbah, Runi Demirkol, and Duncan Ross–a group he called national champions in the classroom.

Six members–Kubbah, Nishibashi, Demirkol, Peters, Bagnell and Ross–earned individual all-American honors.

On the course, the Lumberjacks had a successful season including Siegert, who became only the third ACC runner during Jacobs’ tenure to earn both all-conference and all-region honors.

But Jacobs has always pushed his teams to succeed in the classroom first and noted Tuesday that his runners are taking challenging classes and putting in hard work to get good grades.

Jacobs said that when he recruits runners, he tells them that they’ll have fun running for the Lumberjacks, but expectations are high, especially in the classroom.

“I tell these guys all the time that I’d love to see them run in the Olympics, but that piece of paper is going to take you so much further in your lifetime than anything on the course or anything athletically,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs’ influence has had a lasting effect on many of his runners, including Peters, a former state finals qualifier for Onaway High School.

“It’s meant a lot (to be a part of ACC’s program). I talked to Coach Jacobs when I was in seventh grade at a Rogers City cross country meet. He joked around and was like, ‘Are you going to come to ACC?’ I’m like, ‘I’m not even in high school yet,'” Peters said. “To come here and perform pretty well on the course and academically was pretty exciting.”

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