The 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year award may or may not wind up in the hands of an Arizona athlete, but you can’t say our state isn’t well-represented in the selection process.
All three of the state’s major universities have a horse in the race, so to speak. This year’s field of nominees for the prestigious award includes Arizona State‘s Shelby Houlihan, Margo Geer from University of Arizona, and Johanna Vang from Northern Arizona University – each representing a different sport.
They are among 207 female athletes that competed in Division I, and 480 nominees overall, vying for the award, which recognizes graduating seniors that have exhibited success in athletics, academics, service in the community, and leadership.
In 2014, Houlihan became the first in ASU track history to win the NCAA outdoor title in the 1500-meter run, and is a three-time Pac-12 champion in the event. She’s also a two-time conference champion in the 5000m.
This year she earned First-Team All-America honors in the indoor mile, 3000m, and outdoor 5000m.
The 5’3″ import from Iowa leaves the Sun Devil program with school records in the outdoor 800m (2:01.12), outdoor 1500m (4.09.67), indoor 800m (2:04.94), and the indoor 3000m (9:03.71).
In the 2015 indoor season, Houlihan was one of the few collegiate competitors to be invited to run at the NYRR Millrose Games in New York City, and also represented ASU as part of the Distance Medley Relay at the prestigious Drake Relays.
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Geer earned her stripes in the UofA pool, where she was a standout swimmer for all four years, winning three national titles in the process.
She was also named this year’s Pac-12 Woman of the Year.
The 27-time All-American was a national champion twice in the 100 free, in 2013 and 2014, and once in the 50 free in 2014. Her time of 21.53 in the 50 free stands in second place in the school record books.
And she’s at the top of the list in the 100 free, setting the school record in a time of 46.86. She also was part of record-setting relay performances in the 400 free (3:10.63), 800 free (6:57.26), and 400 medley (3:28.83).
Outside of school competition, she competed for the U.S. National Team the last four years, was a finalist at the 2012 Olympic Trials, and this year represented Team USA at the World Championships in Russia.
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Tennis is Vang’s sport. The four-time All-Big Sky honoree was the No. 1 singles player the last two seasons and wrapped a stellar career that included 45 singles wins and 50 doubles victories.
The team captain the last three years, Vang was awarded the university’s Golden Axe Award that recognizes graduating seniors who exhibit outstanding academic performance, leadership, and service to the community.
A native of Sweden, she quickly adapted to college life in this country and graduated with a 4.0 GPA in marketing. This past academic year she was also named the Co-Female Student Athlete of the Year.
The trio will have to wait through the summer before finding out how they fare in the competition. The top 10 honorees, including the nine overall finalists, will be honored at an Oct. 18 dinner in Indianapolis when the winner will be announced.
(Photo: Arizona State Athletics)