GAMBIER, Ohio -- From an original pool of 132 nominees, recent Kenyon College graduate, and Greencastle High School grad, Tracy Menzel emerged Wednesday as a finalist in voting for the NCAA's prestigious Woman of the Year award. She is one of just nine remaining nominees and one of just three from all NCAA Division III institutions.
Menzel's journey through the months-long process began in June, when she was declared the North Coast Athletic Conference's Woman of the Year. Earning that honor automatically thrust her into the national pool for the NCAA's top award. In August, the national pool of nominees was whittled down to 30 semifinalists, from the original 132 nominees.
Menzel will now move on to the final stage of selection, which will be held during an awards dinner and reception in Indianapolis, Indiana on Sunday, October 18. During the ceremony the 2009 NCAA Woman of the Year will be chosen from the nine finalists.
Menzel is the second Kenyon woman in the past six years to be named a finalist. In 2003, Ashley Rowatt, also a swimmer, was named a finalist and went on to become the NCAA's first-ever Woman of the Year from a Division III institution.
The other eight finalists still in the 2009 running include Amanda Blumenherst of Duke (golf); Ashleigh Clare-Kearney of Louisiana State (gymnastics); Julia Hopson of Fredonia State (track and field); Dani Huffman of Emory (volleyball); Venessa Lee of Pittsburg State (cross country/track and field); Lacey Nymeyer of Arizona (swimming); Ashley Puga of Northwest Nazarene (cross country/track and field); and Kathleen Tafler of Grand Valley State (soccer).
Menzel, who graduated in May, was a four-year member of the Kenyon swim team, which won the NCAA Division III championship in each of her last three seasons. In addition to those team titles, Menzel also collected three event titles. She was the 2007 and 2009 national champion in the 100-yard breaststroke, as well as a member of the 2007 national champion 200-yard medley relay team. She was a 16-time NCAA All-American and a national runner-up in four other events throughout her career.
In the classroom, she was a Women's and Gender Studies major who maintained a 3.82 grade point average. She was the recipient of an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, was a four-time College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Academic All-American, and was named a 2009 ESPN The Magazine First Team Academic All-American.
Her efforts in the pool and in the classroom were matched by the time and energy she spent in volunteer roles. Menzel was involved with the campus' Sexual Misconduct Task Force and Take Back the Night Committee. She served on the advisory board for both the Women and Gender Studies Department and the Crozier Center for Women program. She also spent time as a Discrimination Advisor, an Upper Class Counselor, and a team captain in the Relay for Life initiative.