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When it comes to college athletics, the words "student" and "athlete" don't have to be mutually exclusive terms.

York College is proving that, again and again.

The small private school on Country Club Road may be best known for its (relatively) low cost, small class sizes and a reputation as one of the "best buys" among mid-Atlantic colleges.

The Spartans' NCAA Division III athletic program, however, has also established itself as a place where serious students and gifted athletes can excel in both endeavors.

That's become evident over the past few weeks, when the Spartans hauled in numerous honors for both athletic and academic excellence.

Let's start on the academic side. After all, education is, and always should be, the primary function of any good college.

Within the last month, the York wrestling team was recognized with the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III Scholar Team Award and a couple of its wrestlers were honored as NWCA Scholar All-Americans.

Around that same time, the field hockey team was selected for the 2015 ZAG Field Hockey/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Collegiate National Academic Team Award. Individually, 14 members of the Spartans earned a selection to the 2015 ZAG Field Hockey/NFHCA Collegiate National Academic Squad.

Those kind of elite academic achievements are nothing new for York athletic programs. Both the wrestling and field hockey athletes have traditionally excelled in the classroom for York. You can say the same for many of the Spartans' other sports.

York athletes, however, aren't just pocket-protector-wearing egg heads who struggle to compete on the field or in the gym. The Spartans consistently rank with the best that NCAA Division III has to offer. They're jocks, but with brains, too.

Kyle Walthall is fresh off an NCAA D-III swimming championship in the 100 breaststroke, becoming the first Spartan to win a swimming national title.

Both the men's and women's lacrosse programs are ranked among the top-10 D-III teams in the nation.

The wrestling team finished its season at No. 21 in D-III and produced an individual All-American.

Finally, the women's basketball team earned 20 victories and garnered numerous postseason honors.

And that's just a sampling of some of York's accomplishments within the six weeks alone.

This is not to say that York College athletics is without flaws. No institution is. The wrestling program dealt with a well-documented hazing scandal a couple years back. Still, even during that difficult time, the school and its officials were mostly up front about the situation and even temporarily suspended the wrestling program while an investigation was conducted. Some athletes were expelled or suspended. Since that time, however, coach Duane Bastress has done an excellent job in returning the program to national prominence.

That incident seems to be the exception, rather than the rule at York.

The rule seems to be that the Spartans find a way to effectively combine athletics and academics.

Yes, these are heady times for the York athletic department.

Paul Saikia, the assistant dean for athletics and recreation, can be justifiably proud of what the Spartans are achieving. He and his entire staff should be congratulated.

Student-athletes are alive and well — and thriving on the Country Club Road campus.

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