By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University runner Olivia Mancl (Sr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) has been nominated for the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year Award. Mancl competed in track and field and cross country for the Bearcats. She recently graduated from Willamette with a bachelor's degree in Biology. During her career with the Bearcats, Mancl competed at four NCAA Division III Championships in cross country and at two NCAA Division III Championships in track and field.
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 record total of 543 student-athletes were nominated for the award. There were 229 nominees from NCAA Division I, with 117 nominees from NCAA Division II and 197 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 2017 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 on Oct. 22 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Mancl earned All-America honors twice in cross country after placing second at the NCAA Division III Championships in 2015 and taking 13th place in 2016. In track and field, she placed ninth in the 1,500-meter run at the NCAA Division III Championships in 2015 and was 19th in the 5,000-meter run in 2016.
She received the Jean Williams Award and was named the Women's Athlete of the Year at Willamette this spring. The Williams Award goes to the senior female student-athlete who most excelled in all areas of her career at Willamette by exemplifying and demonstrating outstanding leadership, scholarship and athleticism.
"What has amazed me about Olivia is that within her quiet demeanor is a powerful competitor who tests herself each time she runs," said Judy Gordon, Willamette associate athletics director and senior woman administrator. "Her desire to strive for her best also transfers to her treatment of her teammates, who are cheered on and nurtured by her."
Mancl won back-to-back Northwest Conference individual championships in cross country in 2015 and 2016. She received First Team All-NWC honors all four seasons and was the NWC Runner of the Year twice. She was named All-West Region four times. She ranks second all-time at Willamette's over a 6-kilometer course with a time of 20:53.8 in 2016.
In track and field, Mancl is second all-time at Willamette in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 16:46.99 in 2016 and is third in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:30.85 in 2016. She was the NWC champion in the 1,500 in 2015.
Mancl graduated from Willamette this spring with a 3.76 cumulative GPA, and was recently selected First Team CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society who earned multiple grants while attending Willamette. She served as a co-president of the Zena Farm Club. She volunteered at the Minto Island Growers Farm.
"I am so impressed with how Olivia lives her life," Gordon commented. "She cares about the world, the earth, having sustainable, pure food and about the farmers who grow organic food. Those are part of her sense of belonging to a community. Her summer work living and working alongside field workers serves to educate her about the real lives of agricultural workers as well as allowing her to bring her knowledge of food safety procedures to these organic farms.
"Olivia's deep reflections on each of her life experiences has helped her grow into a compassionate person, and this compassion, along with her passion for conserving the earth's resources will serve her well as a warrior for food justice and sustainability," Gordon said.