UWRF's Nielsen one of six nominated for NCAA Woman of the Year Award
Six Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) individuals have been nominated for the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
University of Wisconsin - River Falls' Haley Nielsen (Plymouth, Minn./Orono); UW-Eau Claire's Erica Oawster (Lino Lakes, Minn./Centennial); UW-La Crosse's Margaret Harings (Eagan, Minn.); UW-Oshkosh's Kayla Priebe (Appleton /Fox Valley Lutheran); UW-Platteville's Katie Wardinski (West Allis /Central); and UW-Stevens Point's Karen Wethal (Evansville) were nominated for the award that honors the academic achievements, athletics excellence, community service and leadership of graduating female college athletes from all three divisions.
To be eligible, a nominee must have competed and earned a varsity letter in an NCAA-sponsored sport, must have completed eligibility in her primary sport, and must have earned her undergraduate degree by Summer 2019. There are 585 nominees, including 192 from NCAA Division III, for the award that is in its 29th year.
Nielsen participated on the ice hockey team and double-majored in physics and mathematics, while maintaining a 3.87 grade point average. She received the 2019 WIAC Judy Kruckman Women's Ice Hockey Scholar-Athlete Award. Nielsen is a two-time American Hockey Coaches Association All-American, securing first team recognition in 2018 and second team status in 2019. She is a three-time All-WIAC first team selection and helped UW-River Falls win the regular-season conference title all four years. The Falcons competed in the NCAA Division III Championship in 2016, 2017 and 2019, finishing as the national runner-up in 2016.
Oawster was a member of indoor and outdoor track & field teams and maintained a 3.77 grade point average, while majoring in organizational communication with a minor in coaching. She was named to the 2019 Google Cloud NCAA Division III Academic All-America® Women's Track & Field/Cross Country Third Team. Oawster was recipient of the 2019 WIAC Judy Kruckman Outdoor Track & Field Scholar-Athlete Award. This year, she won the national title in the discus and indoor title in the shot put. Oawster is a four-time All-American (two indoor, two outdoor) and was selected the 2019 NCAA Division III Women's Midwest Region Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year. She is four-time WIAC champion, winning the outdoor shot put in 2018 and 2019, and discus in 2017 and 2018.
A member of the soccer team, Harings accumulated a 3.73 grade point average, while majoring in biology with a minor in psychology. She was selected to the 2018 Google Cloud NCAA Division III Academic All-District® Six Women's Soccer First Team. Harings is a two-time United Soccer Coaches All-American, securing first team recognition in 2018 and second team honors in 2017. She added third team laurels from D3soccer.com in 2018. A four-time All-WIAC first team selection, Harings secured the Offensive Player of the Year award in 2017 and 2018. She also earned a spot on the United Soccer Coaches All-North Region Team the last four seasons, receiving third team honors in 2015, second team recognition in 2016 and first team distinction in 2017 and 2018.
Priebe competed on the golf squad and majored in accounting, while boasting a 4.00 grade point average. She was named to the 2019 Google Cloud NCAA Division III Academic All-America® Women's At-Large First Team, becoming the first women's golfer in league history to earn a spot on the academic squad. Priebe also earned a spot on the Google Cloud Academic All-District® Six Women's At-Large Team in 2017, 2018 and 2019. She was selected the recipient of the 2018 WIAC Judy Kruckman Women's Golf Scholar-Athlete Award. Priebe received all-conference first team recognition in 2015, 2016 and 2018 and second team accolades in 2017. She was named the 2016 WIAC Player of the Year and added All-Central Region plaudits in 2017 and 2019.
Wardinski was a member of the cross county and indoor and outdoor track & field teams. She sustained a 3.69 grade point average, while majoring in environmental engineering with a minor in Spanish. In cross country, Wardinski is a three-time All-Region performer, placing 26th at the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional in 2016, 15th in 2017 and 17th in 2018. She secured all-conference second team honors in 2017 and honorable mention accolades in 2018. Wardinski's track & field accomplishments include a second-place finish in the 5,000-meter run at the 2019 WIAC Outdoor Championship and third-place finish in the 10,000-meter run at the 2018 meet.
A representative of the indoor and outdoor track & field teams, Wethal posted a 3.87 grade point average and majored in dietetics with a minor in Spanish. She was selected to the 2019 Google Cloud NCAA Division III Academic All-America® Track & Field/Cross Country Third Team. Wethal captured the conference title in the discus at the 2019 WIAC Outdoor Championship after placing third in 2018. She earned All-America honors in the event the past two seasons. Wethal finished second in the weight throw at the 2019 WIAC Indoor Championship and received All-Midwest Region status in the shot put.
Eligible female student-athletes are nominated by their member school. Each conference office then reviews the nominations from its core member schools (and sponsored sports) and submits its conference nominee(s) to the NCAA. Then, the NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee identifies the Top 30 — 10 from each division. The selection committee will determine the top three honorees in each division from the Top 30 and announce the nine finalists in September. From those nine finalists, the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics then will choose the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year.
All 30 Woman of the Year honorees will be recognized, and the 2019 Woman of the Year announced, at the annual award ceremony on Oct. 20 in Indianapolis.