NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Recent Belmont women's Cross Country and Track & Field alumna Hannah Wittman (Lindenhurst, Ill.) was named the 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year Conference Honoree for the Ohio Valley Conference, as announced by the organization on Wednesday.
Last month, Wittman earned Division I Academic All-America Third Team honors for Cross Country/Track and Field crowning an exceptional career in and out of the classroom. She became just the fourth Belmont female student-athlete from any program to be named to any Academic All-America team and only the second from the Cross Country/Track and Field program to garner the honor.
Wittman is Belmont University's third conference nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year award, following the footsteps of cross country/track & field standout Brittany Thune (2010), and most recently, women's soccer alumna Alison Alcott (2015). Alcott advanced to the Top-30 for the prestigious award, a first for Belmont.
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.
"Hannah exemplified what is means to be a female student-athlete at Belmont," said Belmont's Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Jeff Langdon. "I am very proud of her for receiving this honor as it allows others to see what we've seen over the last four years. She has been a great example of the four pillars of the NCAA Woman of the Year award - academics, athletics, service and leadership."
"All of us in the Belmont cross country and track & field family want to congratulate Hannah on her selection as the Ohio Valley Conference honoree for the 2016 NCAA Women of the Year Award."
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 her final season of competition – 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.
One hundred forty-one NCAA female-student-athletes have been named 2016 Woman of the Year honorees by conferences and independent schools. Of those recognized, 54 honorees competed in Division I, 36 competed in Division II and 51 competed in Division III.
The Woman of the Year selection committee will next select the top 10 honorees in each division. These top 30 honorees will be announced in early September. The selection committee will then choose and announce the top nine finalists (three from each division) at the end of September. The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will vote from amongst those nine finalists to determine the 2016 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.