NEW ROCHELLE, NY – Iona College women’s cross country junior Kate Avery, Boise State senior Emma Bates, Wisconsin sophomore Sarah Disanza and Michigan State’s Rachele Schulist were named to four nominees for the Honda Sports Award for women’s cross country as announced by Chris Voelz, Executive Director of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) Monday.
The Honda Sports Award is presented annually by the CWSA to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics”. The winner of the sport award becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious 2015 Honda Cup.
The Honda Sports award winner for cross country will be announced later this week after voting by administrators from over 1,000 NCAA member schools. Each NCAA member institution has a vote.
The Honda Cup winner will be announced during a live telecast of The Collegiate Women Sports Awards show presented by Honda in late June.
Avery was a finalist for the Honda Award last season after a third place finish at the NCAA Championship. She went on to capture the 2014 NCAA title finishing more than eight seconds ahead of the runner up. A junior from Newton Aycliffe, England, she was the first-ever female national champion in Iona history (any sport) and was the first British female NCAA Cross Country champion. She also repeated as the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion and captured her first NCAA Northeast Regional title. She is a two-time All-American in cross country, and led her team to a ninth-place finish at the 2014 NCAA finals, the best team finish in school history.
Bates was the third place finisher at the 2014 NCAA Cross Country Championship and is a two-time All-American in Cross Country. The red shirt senior from Elk River, MN, was the NCAA runner-up last season and also a Honda Award nominee. She is the two-time Mountain West Conference (MWC) Champion after winning again this fall and was twice named the MWC Cross Country Student-Athlete of the Year.
Disanza was the runner up at the 2014 NCAA Cross Country Championship and led Wisconsin to a 10th place showing and an All-American nod. Her second place finish was the best finish by a Badger since 1999 and the sophomore ran a career-best time after a 104th place finish in the 2013 Championship. Hailing from Wantage, NJ, she was also the runner up at the Big Ten Championship, helping her team to a second-place finish and finished third at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional for a team runner up finish and automatic bid to NCAAs.
Schulist led four MSU runners in the top 25 with a fourth-place finish to help the Spartans capture the 2014 National Championship, the first team championship in women’s program history. Her fourth place finish is the best in program history at the NCAA Championships and earned her All-America honors. Leading up to the NCAA finals, the red shirt sophomore from Grand Rapids, MI, was the runner up at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship and finished third at the Big Ten Championship. She earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and was twice named the Big Ten Women’s Runner of the Week.
Last year’s Honda Sports Award winner for cross country was Darmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino who went on to claim the Top Three honor as a runner-up for the Honda Cup.
The Collegiate Women Sports Awards has honored the nation’s top NCAA women athletes for 38 years, recognizing superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. Since commencing its sponsorship in 1986, Honda has provided more than $2.8 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women’s athletics programs at the institutions.