NEW ORLEANS - The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association released its 450-athlete Division I All-Region awards on Monday and seven Columbia athletes garnered All-Region honors.

From the Columbia men's team, seniors Justin Heck and Kyle Merber, juniors Mike Murphy and Leighton Spencer and sophomore Nico Composto received All-Region honors, giving the Lions the most in the Ivy League.  Merber has now garnered All-Region status two times in his Columbia career. He was All-Region in 2009. Composto, Heck, Murphy and Spencer are all first-time All-Region honorees.

The Columbia men punched their first-ever ticket to the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Sunday when the NCAA Division I track and field subcommittee awarded them with an at-large bid. The Lions placed third in the men's 10K at Saturday's NCAA Northeast Regionals with their top five runners placing in the top 23. Murphy paced the team with a 14th-place finish.

First-year Waverly Neer and junior Caroline McDonough earned All-Region recognition for the Columbia women. McDonough has now received All-Region status in back-to-back years as she was named to the All-Region list in 2010.

Neer, who earned an automatic bid to compete as an individual at next week's NCAA championship meet, placed fifth in the women's 6K at the NCAA Northeast Regionals. McDonough took 13th in the race.