09 Dec 2021 | 15:08 | Track & Field
VILLANOVA, Pa.—Women’s track & field athletes Grayce French (Ridgeland, S.C.) and McKenna Keegan (West Grove, Pa.) were each named to the 2020-21 Academic All-District Team for cross country/track & field which was selected by CoSIDA and announced on Thursday afternoon. They will each move on now to the national ballot to earn consideration for Academic All-America honors which will be announced next month. It is the first time that both French and Keegan have earned academic all-district recognition during their careers.
Student-athletes are eligible for Academic All-District recognition by having a minimum 3.30 cumulative grade point average and being a significant contributor to their teams. There are nine geographic districts nationwide. French and Keegan were each named to the District 2 team which is comprised of athletes from Division I schools in Washington D.C., Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
French set the all-time Villanova records in the shot put and the discus during the 2021 outdoor season to wrap up a terrific year of competition. The graduate transfer from Clemson made an immediate impact in the Wildcats record book and recorded the highest finish by a Villanova thrower at the NCAA East Preliminary where she placed 17th out of 48 qualifiers in the discus. Each of her school records were set at the BIG EAST Championships in May when she recorded marks of 14.95 meters in the shot put and 52.35 meters in the discus. After just one year on campus, French holds the top six marks in program history in the discus as well as seven of the top 10 distances in the shot put.
The current NCAA postseason format was introduced beginning with the 2010 season and since then French is the first Villanova thrower to qualify for the NCAA East Preliminary in the discus. She went into the competition ranked 31st among the 48 qualifiers in the East region but beat that seeding by 14 places to finish in 17th place overall. She is the Wildcats first thrower to tally a top-20 finish at the meet. French is enrolled in graduate school at Villanova and is pursuing a degree in Public Administration. She was named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll for the Fall 2020 semester.
Keegan had a sensational year of competition and qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 800 meters both indoors and outdoors. She was named the Women’s Track Athlete of the Year by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) for both the indoor and outdoor seasons and became only the second Villanova athlete to sweep those honors in the same year. At the NCAA East Preliminary meet in May, Keegan recorded a personal best time of 2:01.25 in the 800 meters which is the fastest time in program history to be recorded during the NCAA season of competition and also earned her a spot at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Oregon one week after the end of the collegiate season.
Earlier in the outdoor season, Keegan won the BIG EAST title in the 800 meters and anchored the 4×400 meter relay squad to a first place finish at the conference meet. Keegan is a five-time All-American and a six-time BIG EAST champion for the Wildcats. She has specialized in the 400 meters and the 800 meters, and at the Philadelphia Metropolitan Collegiate Invitational in April posted a split of 52.67 on the final leg of the 4×400 meter relay. That is the fastest known split by a Villanova runner in a 4×400 race.
Keegan graduated from Villanova in 2020 and was a Psychology major as an undergraduate. She is currently enrolled in graduate school and is pursuing a degree in Public Administration. She is a three-time member of the BIG EAST All-Academic Team and a five-time selection to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.