By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University cross country and track and field runner Taylor Ostrander (Sr., Kenai, AK/Kenai Central HS) has been nominated for the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year Award. Ostrander, who recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in Exercise Science, competed at eight national championship events -- four in cross country and four in track and field -- during her career with the Bearcats.
The NCAA Woman of the Year Award honors graduating female college athletes who have completed their eligibility and have distinguished themselves in academic, athletics, service and leadership.
This year, a total of 517 student-athletes were nominated for the award. There were 231 nominees from NCAA Division I, with 117 nominees from NCAA Division II and 169 nominees from NCAA Division III. Willamette competes in Division III and the Northwest Conference.
Soon, each conference will choose up to two nominees who will advance in the selection process. The top 30 nominees -- 10 from each division -- will be chosen next, then the top three nominees in each division will be selected.
The 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year Award winner will be chosen from the final nine entries by the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics. The top 30 nominees will be honored and the national winner will be announced during an awards ceremony in Indianapolis, Ind., on Oct. 16.
Ostrander was a runner at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. She earned All-America honors this past fall by placing 26th in the nation. She helped Willamette place 10th in the team standings in 2015, after contributing to the Bearcats placing 12th in 2013 and 15th in 2014.
She competed at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships all four years (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. She placed 11th in 2014 and 2016, was 13th in 2015 and took 22nd place in 2013. She is only the third Willamette athlete to qualify for eight NCAA Championships.
This spring, she won the NWC championship in the 5,000-meter run for the third year in a row with a time of 17:32.92. She won the NWC title in the steeplechase in 2014.
Ostrander won the NWC individual cross country title and was named NWC Women's Runner of the Year in 2014. She helped Willamette win the NWC cross country team title in 2013 and 2014, as well as the NCAA West Regional title in 2014 and 2015.
Community service for Ostrander included working as a biomechanics instructor at Awesome Academic Adventures in the summer of 2015. She volunteered at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank (2011-13) and at the Secor Park restoration project (2013). She volunteered with the Tracy Hoffman Run for Leukemia in 2014 and 2015. She volunteered and competed in the Salmon Run Race Series in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Ostrander is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. She was named First Team Capital One Academic All-District VIII in 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16. She has received All-Academic honors from the USTFCCCA seven times in cross country and track and field, and is eligible for another award in track and field this year.