Megan Buja Rolls on in NCAA Voting for Top Elite 89 Winner
INDIANAPOLIS— A near perfect student-athlete experience wasn’t enough for recent graduate Megan Buja (Rockford, Ill.). She still has more to win. The women’s bowling standout, who won four National Championships while earning Academic All-America and National Collegiate Tenpins Coaches Association All-America honors, is now a semi-finalist for the NCAA’s Favorite Elite 89 award.
Last week, voting was open on all Elite 89 winners from the NCAA’s 89 Championships sports. Buja, who won the award in her sport three consecutive years (2012-2014), finished fourth in the voting with 826 votes to make the semi-final round that includes the top 30 vote getters. Voting was online at ncaa.org.
Due in part to a “grassroots” style effort, the UMES Media Relations and Public Relations offices used social media and email to garner votes for Buja. Now they will need some more help to keep up the voting in the next round.
“We are excited for Megan,” said G. Stan Bradley, Associate Director of Athletics. “She is well deserving of the award first and foremost, but to be in the top four vote getters in the nation, that’s something we are proud of. We just need the campus, alumni, bowling and HBCU communities to get behind one of their own.”
Buja is the only winner from a historically black college or university and obviously the only bowling student-athlete. She was not the only finalist locally however as four Salisbury University students won Elite 89 awards this past season. None however finished in the top 30 of the recent voting.
Buja trailed just three people in the poll, Valdosta State’s Courtney Albritton was first with 1,971 votes for DII softball, Sam Malone of Kentucky’s men’s basketball team was second with 1,724 votes and Southern Indiana’s Brad Wannemuehler for DII baseball was third with 1,040 votes. Buja topped fifth place’s Cody Lovejoy for DII wrestling by 21 votes. The 30th place finisher had 279 votes.
NCAA.org explains the award as “the Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 89 championships.”
Voting for the next round opened , Monday, July 14 and closes on Tuesday, July 15 at 8 p.m. ET. Keep checking NCAA.org as well as UMES Athletics and UMES News social media accounts on twitter and Facebook for the voting link.