Saina Claims Honda Award for Cross Country
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The Honda Sports Award is presented annually by the CWSA to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA- sanctioned sports. With this honor, Saina becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the 2013 Honda Cup. Saina was chosen by a vote of coaches from 1,000 NCAA member schools. Finalists included Jordan Hasay (University of Oregon), Abbey D'Agostino (Dartmouth College) and Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton (Wichita State University).
"To be singled out as the top cross country runner in the country is almost too much. There are so many great runners. I know them as opponents but many are friends outside of competition. I am honored and I have to accept the Honda Sports Award for Cross Country on behalf of our entire team," said Saina, Iowa State's 2012 Female Athlete of the Year.
Saina defeated Hasay and D'Agostino by less than a second at the NCAA Championships, completing the 6-kilometer course in Louisville, KY in 19:27.9 while helping her team to a Top 10 overall finish. A native of Eldoret, Kenya, Saina is also a two-time Big 12 champion in cross country (2011, 2012) and she won the NCAA Midwest Regional this season. On the track, she was the 2012 NCAA Indoor Track champion in the 5000-meter run and was named the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Outstanding Female Performer of the Year. Overall in all three running disciplines, Saina is an eight-time All American.
Saina is an agriculture and life sciences major who was a second team Academic All-Big 12 selection as a junior. She placed 6th at the 2012 Kenyan Olympic Trials in the 10,000-meter run.
Of Saina's Honda Sports Award recognition, Coach Corey Ihmels said, "I am elated that Betsy is being honored with the Honda Award for her sport. She is a selfless, humble person and there are many people who see her daily on campus who have no idea about what this national champion accomplished. Betsy is so appreciated by her teammates and is a key reason we have won two straight Big 12 Conference team titles and NCAA Midwest Regional titles. No one was happier about our team's achievements this season than Betsy. This is a great honor for a great person and a great champion."
The Collegiate Women Sports Awards has honored the nation's top NCAA women athletes for 37 years, recognizing not only superior athletic skills, but also leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. Honda has been a sponsor of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards for the past 27 years. Since commencing its sponsorship in 1986, Honda has provided more than $2.5 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women's athletics programs at the institutions. Previous Honda Cup winners include Brittney Griner, Ann Meyers Drysdale, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mia Hamm, Lisa Fernandez, Misty May-Treanor, Courtney Kupets, Maya Moore, and Candace Parker.