Colorado’s Kaitlyn Benner was selected Pac-12 Woman of the Year for the 2018-19 academic year, the conference office announced on Thursday.
Benner becomes the Pac-12’s candidates for the NCAA Woman of the Year, presented annually to a graduating student-athlete who has distinguished herself throughout her collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletic excellence, community service and leadership. Benner is CU’s first Pac-12 Woman of the Year since joining the conference in 2011.
Benner was a member of the cross country and track and field teams at Colorado. She earned degrees in chemical and biological engineering with a 3.94 GPA. The Superior, Colo., native was named the Pac-12 Cross Country Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2017 in her final season of cross country and went on to earn the 2019 Pac-12 Track and Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor. She is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American and was named to the Pac-12 All-Academic First Team six times (three for cross country and three for track and field).
Athletically, Benner recorded six All-America honors. She was a three-time All-American in cross country and helped the Buffs win three straight Pac-12 Conference team titles (2015-17) and four consecutive NCAA Mountain Region Championships. Benner was the Pac-12 individual runner-up at the 2015 championship and recorded three straight All-Pac-12 First Team honors. On the track, she also recorded three All-America honors and was a two-time conference champion. She won the 2015 MPSF 5,000-meter race and the 2018 Pac-12 10,000-meter run.
Four student-athletes from the Pac-12 have won the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year award: Schluntz (2010), Nymeyer (2009), Myers (2007), and Tanya Jones in 1994. All four were student-athletes at the University of Arizona.
Eligible female student-athletes are nominated by their schools, then each conference office reviews the nominations from its members and submits a conference nominee to the NCAA. From that pool, the NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee selects the Top 30 – 10 from each division. From the top 30, the selection committee determines the top three nominees from each division and announces those nine finalists in September. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics then chooses the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year from those nine.
The top 30 honorees will be recognized, and the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be named, at the annual award ceremony on Oct. 20 in Indianapolis.