Former Case Western Reserve University student-athlete Cassandra Laios has been selected to receive the NCAA Today’s Top-10 Award, one of the most prestigious honors awarded by the NCAA each year.
The award recognizes former student-athletes for their successes on the field, in the classroom and in the community. The 10 recipients this year, selected from all three NCAA divisions, completed their athletics eligibility during the 2018-19 academic year and will be recognized at the Honors Celebration Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Anaheim, California.
The NCAA Today’s Top 10 Award has been presented annually since 1973, with past winners including numerous student-athletes that would go on to become household names, such as Archie Griffin, John Elway, Steve Young, Cheryl Miller, David Robinson, Drew Brees and Dak Prescott, among others.
Laios completed her standout athletic career at Case Western Reserve in the spring of 2019, capping off her time at the university by winning the NCAA Division III Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Hammer Throw Championship to become the 15th NCAA Champion in the history of CWRU athletics. It was one of three all-America honors she claimed during her senior year, also securing the award in the outdoor discus and the indoor weight throw. Laios was also selected as the USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region Field Athlete of the Year, and has been named the UAA Most Outstanding Performer in Field Events four times over her career, including both the indoor and outdoor campaigns in 2019.
She left CWRU as the program record holder in the indoor shot put (14.09m) and weight throw (18.05m) and the outdoor shot put (14.20m), discus (45.11m) and hammer (56.34m).
Laios’ athletic accomplishments during her final year of competition came despite missing the NCAA Championships during the 2018 indoor and outdoor seasons, after suffering a season-ending injury just prior to the UAA Indoor Championship meet, despite being on a trajectory to qualify for both national competitions. Laios persevered and returned as a graduate student, eventually reaching the pinnacle of her event at the DIII level in the spring.
Academically, Laios notched a 3.87 undergraduate GPA and a 3.80 graduate GPA as an electrical engineering major. She was named to the Google Cloud Academic All-America First Team in 2019 and is a multiple-time UAA All-Academic and USTFCCCA All-Academic honoree, and a UAA Presidents Scholar-Athlete team selection. Laios was also named one of the top-30 finalists for the NCAA Woman of the Year award earlier this year.
Laios was inducted into multiple honor societies in college, including twice into the Case Western Reserve Van Horn Society (student-athletes at the university who have recorded a cumulative grade-point average of 3.8 or higher); Tau Beta Pi (engineering); Alpha Eta Mu Beta (biomedical engineering); and IEEE Eta Kappa Nu (electrical engineering). Laios served two years on her campus Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, volunteered with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and was a student ambassador in the Office of Student Activities & Leadership. She also traveled in 2016 to Botswana, where she helped install solar panels for local communities.
Laios becomes the second Spartan athlete in CWRU history to receive the NCAA Today’s Top-10 Award, along with former men’s tennis player C.J. Kimbill, who was presented with the honor in 2017.
Laios is one of three winners from NCAA Division III programs this year, along with Augustana football player Kirby Hora and swimmer Hannah Orbach-Mandel of Kenyon. Other 2019 honorees include men’s tennis player Jimmy Bendeck of Baylor, fencer Iman Blow of Columbia, golfer Virginia Elena Carta of Duke, field hockey player Kaitlin Hatch of West Chester of Pennsylvania, bowler Kristin Quah of Vanderbilt, gymnast Anton Stephenson of Nebraska and rifle team member Ginny Thrasher of West Virginia.
The honorees are selected by the NCAA Honors Committee, composed of representatives of NCAA member schools, conferences and distinguished citizens, including past awardees. Before 2013, the award recognized eight student-athletes and was known as Today’s Top VIII. The NCAA Honors Committee expanded the award to include 10 honorees to recognize the growing number of college athletes, sports and championship opportunities.