BISMARCK, N.D. – A perfect fall for Alexis Zeis culminated in a national cross country championship and earned the University of Mary sophomore the 2016 North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association College Female Athlete of the Year honors.

Undefeated in all five races the Bismarck, North Dakota, entered last year, including the Roy Griak Invitational, the Northern Sun championship and the NCAA Central Region, Zeis saved her best effort for the final week of the season.

UM_Zeis_Awards1After placing 21st as a freshman in 2014, Zeis won the 2015 NCAA Division II Women’s Cross Country Championship in perhaps the closest race in NCAA history.

Battling defending national champion Kendra Foley of Grand Valley State University throughout the 6,000 meter course on a chilly morning, Zeis held off Foley at the finish line by .3 seconds.

Zeis’ victory led the Marauders to a 12th place team finish at the cross country championships.

For her efforts, Zeis was named the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Women’s Division II Cross Country Athlete of the Year and is the cross country nominee for the Class of 2016 Division II Honda Athlete of the Year.

UM_ZeisA four time All-American, Zeis also qualified for the 2016 NCAA Division II women’s indoor and outdoor track & field championships.

This is the sixth time the NDAPSSA College Female Athlete of the Year was awarded to a Mary student-athlete. Jamey Mulske was honored in 1998 and 1999, Lisa Maus claimed the title in 2000, Jessica Zundel was selected in 2005 and Melissa Agnew captured the award in 2013. Mulske and Agnew are track & field athletes and Maus and Zundel played basketball for the Marauders.

Additionally, Marauders men’s basketball coach Joe Kittell was a finalist for the 2016 NDAPSSA College Male Team Coach of the Year. In his first season at Mary, Kittell’s squad improved by ten wins and advanced to the Northern Sun tournament semifinals.