INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Belmont University women's cross country and track & field graduate Hannah Wittman (Lindenhurst, Ill.) has been named one of the institutional nominees for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year award, as announced by the national office on Tuesday.
A complete list of school nominees can be found here. Wittman is Belmont University's third nominee, following the footsteps of Brittany Thune in 2010 and Alison Alcott in 2015. Both were conference nominees and Alcott advanced to the Top-30 for the prestigious award.
The most highly decorated women's cross country and track & field runner in program history, Wittman wrapped her collegiate career with back-to-back NCAA National Championship appearances, recording a top-85 finish in a field or more than 300 at the 2015 Cross Country Championship in November before challenging for the national title in the 10,000-meters at the 2016 Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Most recently, the Lindenhurst, Ill., native was tabbed the 2016 Ohio Valley Conference Female Track Athlete of the Year, becoming the first Belmont runner to earn the award since joining the league. The honor distinguished Wittman as only the third women's track athlete in the history of the OVC to ever earn Runner/Athlete of the Year honors in both Cross Country and Outdoor Track and Field in the same academic year. In the fall, she was named Ohio Valley Conference Female Athlete of the Year, also becoming the first Bruin to garner that honor.
She has three program records under her belt for outdoor- each impressively broken in 2016 – 1500-meters, 5000-meters, and 10,000-meters. Wittman even owns an Ohio Valley Conference record after breaking the 1500m mark, which had stood since 1983, at the 2015 outdoor conference championship.
In the classroom, the two-time Belmont Female Student-Athlete of the Year has proven equally impressive, being named to the Dean's List seven times and earning OVC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year distinction. She has also been tabbed Academic All-Conference three times, earned individual All-Academic honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), as well as earned Academic All-District honors.
In her rare opportunities for downtime, Wittman volunteered with Hands on Nashville, Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, an organization that pairs athletic teams with young children battling pediatric brain cancers, and the Nashville Rescue Mission. On campus, she was active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), the Battle of the Bruins talent show which annually raises funds for the Special Olympics and Campus Crusade for Christ.
Now in its 26th year, the Woman of the Year award honors graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in academics, athletics, service and leadership. Wittman joins 516 other institutional nominees from around the country and spanning NCAA Division I, II, and III as part of the largest group of school honorees since the program began in 1991.
All conference nominees, which will be selected later this summer, are forwarded to the Woman of the Year selection committee, which chooses the top 30 honorees – 10 from each division. From the top 30, the selection committee determines the top three nominees from each division and announces the top nine finalists in September. The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics then chooses from among those nine to determine the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year.
The 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be announced, and the Top 30 honorees celebrated, at the annual award ceremony Oct. 16 in Indianapolis.