NEW ORLEANS, La. – The 2016-17 season was memorable for the Park University Women's Cross Country and Track and Field programs, and Wednesday, the program was honored as the 20th-ranked team on the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA)'s 2016-17 Program of the Year standings for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).


The year began for the women's program with a 35th-place finish at the NAIA National Championships after finishing second in the American Midwest Conference Women's Cross Country Championship.


In the conference championship, Mary Beth Bailey and Emily High posted all-conference times to help get the Pirates to the national meet, where Bailey led the Pirates with a time 40 seconds better than her all-conference run.


On the track, a pair of women's All-Americans led the Pirates throughout the 2017 spring season, beginning indoors when Jerosan Fletcher was an All-American in the long jump at the NAIA Indoor National Championships in Johnson City, Tennessee. She was joined at the national meet by Aaliyah Brown, who was later an All-American in the shot put at the NAIA Outdoor National Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama.


Fletcher was also an All-American at the outdoor meet, earning the designation in both the long jump and 200-meter dash. The duo helped the Pirates finish fourth in the AMC Indoor Championships and second in the AMC outdoor meet.


"I knew we had a good year, but I really thought it was neat to find out we were a top-20 program in the USTFCCCA's standings," said Park University track and cross country coach Brian Renshaw. "We did a lot of good things this year, and there's a lot of room to improve. It makes you really look forward to next year. I think we have a chance to do some really good things throughout the year in 2017-18."