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Ruth Steinke '16 a Top Honoree for NCAA Woman of the Year Award

September 7, 2016 at 10:02 pm
By Matt Higgins, MIAC
Ruth Steinke
Ruth Steinke

NORTHFIELD, Minn. — Throughout her stellar four-year career as a member of Carleton College's cross country and track and field teams, Ruth Steinke ’16 (Lima, N.Y./Honeoye Falls-Lima) accumulated numerous Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) championships and All-American honors while also excelling in the classroom and in the community. Steinke was the MIAC's nominee for the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year award and was recently tabbed as one of the NCAA's top 30 honorees for the award.

The NCAA Woman of the Year Award, now in its 26th season, honors senior student-athletes who distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service, and leadership. Steinke—a multiple-time conference champion and six-time All-American runner—was Carleton’s nominee, then was selected by the MIAC's Senior Woman Administrators and Management Committee to be the conference’s candidate for the national award thanks to her sustained excellence in each of those three areas.

The 30 finalists for the NCAA Woman of the Year award are composed of 10 honorees from each of the three NCAA divisions and have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.92 and 43 Academic All-America Honors. Additionally, the group earned 12 national championships (individual and team) and 49 All-American honors.

Steinke's all-around collegiate career—in athletics, academics and beyond—certainly make her deserving of such an honor. But, as the Mathematics major wrote in her personal statement in the NCAA Woman of the Year nomination process, her college experience was about much more than fast times, championships, or grades. Her lessons in college resonated much deeper.

"I expected my learning and training at Carleton to sculpt my mind and body," Steinke wrote in her personal statement. "Immeasurably more than anything I had imagined occurred: my dormant heart has been awakened by truth and revived by teaching … By exhorting me with truths about who I am, not just the potential in my head and legs, many teachers have revived my heart to race this life. The glory of a heart fully alive cannot be hidden; it is a model, a teacher within me now."

Her collegiate career was also filled with incredible success on the conference and national stage. During her four years, Steinke won a total of seven MIAC individual championships—one in cross country and six in track and field—two major MIAC honors and 20 All-Conference awards. She was the 2014 MIAC Cross Country Athlete-of-the-Year and honored with the 2015 MIAC Outdoor Track and Field Performance-of-the-Meet award for her showing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Speaking of the steeplechase, Steinke won the MIAC outdoor title in that event in each of her four years. She was the conference's individual cross country champion in 2014 and finished in the top nine in each of her four seasons. She also won back-to-back indoor titles in the 3,000-meter run, and added four top-three finishes in the indoor mile during her decorated career. She was also on a pair of conference-championship relay teams and turned in numerous other All-Conference efforts.

Steinke's success didn't stop there. She was a two-time All-American in cross country as she finished fourth at the NCAA Championships in 2014 and fifth in 2015. She capped her career with unforgettable indoor and outdoor seasons on the track in 2016, as she earned a pair of All-American honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships—finishing second in the 5,000-meter run and fifth in the 3,000-meter run—and she also finished fifth in the 5k at the NCAA Outdoor Meet. She added another All-American honor in the Distance Medley Relay in 2015 and graduated with numerous All-Region accolades as well.

Steinke's success was equaled in the classroom, where she boasted a similar haul of academic honors throughout her career and graduated with her degree in Mathematics with a 3.88 grade point average. She graduated Magna Cum Laude as a member of both the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi honor societies. She won Carleton’s Pat Lamb Award in recognition of her combined athletic and academic success, and won multiple Academic All-American and Academic All-Conference awards.

Despite her busy athletic and academic calendars, Steinke still found plenty of time to give back to her campus and community through countless service projects, volunteer efforts, and organizational involvements including: Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Fellowship in Christ, numerous tutoring experiences, Feed My Starving Children, Food Recovery, Northfield Food Shelf, Mortar Board Honor Society, track meets volunteer, church musician, and more.

Steinke was also named to the All-MIAC Sportsmanship team during her career and attending the MIAC's Student-Athlete Leadership Conference in 2014.

The Top 30 honorees will be celebrated and the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year will be named at the annual banquet Oct. 16 in Indianapolis. The NCAA Woman of the Year program has recognized graduating female student-athletes for excellence in academics, athletics, community service and leadership since its inception in 1991.

Also contains information from the NCAA.

2016 NCAA Woman of the Year Top 30

Name  Div.  School  Conference  Sport(s)
Acker, Rachael  University of California, Berkeley  Pac-12 Conference  Swimming and Diving
Balinskas, Tracey  II  Molloy College  East Coast Conference  Softball
Blazing, Lauren  Duke University  Atlantic Coast Conference  Field Hockey
Bombardier, Rachel  III  Castleton University  North Athletic Conference  Ice Hockey, Lacrosse
Chappell-Dick, Hannah  III  Eastern Mennonite University  Old Dominion Athletic Conference  Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field
Coyne, Kendall  Northeastern University  Colonial Athletic Association  Ice Hockey
Ellis-Watson, Taylor  University of Arkansas, Fayetteville  Southeastern Conference  Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field
Guo, Margaret  III  Massachusetts Institute of Technology  New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference  Swimming and Diving
Hillman, Christina  Iowa State University  Big 12 Conference  Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field
Kahnweiler, Kim  III  Bowdoin College  New England Small College Athletic Conference  Field Hockey
Kiblinger, Elizabeth  II  Maryville University of St. Louis  Great Lakes Valley Conference  Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field
Kuhnen, Maia  II  Clayton State University  Peach Belt Conference  Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field, Soccer
Leeper, Bri  II  West Texas A&M University  Lone Star Conference  Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field
Lester, Maurissa  II  Limestone College  Conference Carolinas  Basketball
Martin, Lauren  II  Adams State University  Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference  Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field
McCleney, Haylie  University of Alabama  Southeastern Conference  Softball
McCormack, Kara  University of Miami (FL)  Atlantic Coast Conference  Swimming and Diving
Monnat, Maggie  II  Le Moyne University  Northeast-10 Conference  Lacrosse
Pruden, Cathleen  III  Mount Holyoke College  New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference  Swimming and Diving
Robinson, Marissa  III  Kean University  New Jersey Athletic Conference  Field Hockey
Rohn, Faith  II  Palm Beach Atlantic University  Independent  Volleyball
Siebert, Elayna  II  Carson-Newman University  South Atlantic Conference  Softball
Spieler, Katie  University of Hawaii, Manoa  Big West Conference  Beach Volleyball
Steinke, Ruth  III  Carleton College  Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference  Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field
Tillo, Emily  Boston University  Patriot League  Golf
Townsend, Haley  III  Kenyon College  North Coast Athletic Conference  Swimming and Diving
Turner, Cameasha  University of Texas, El Paso  Conference USA  Women's Basketball
Vann, Sasa  III  SUNY- Buffalo State  State University of New York Athletic Conference  Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field
Viti, Amy  III  Misericordia University  Middle Atlantic Conference  Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field
Wilson, Channing  II  California State University, Stanislaus  California Collegiate Athletic Association  Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field