Amherst, N.Y. - After putting together one of the most prolific athletic careers in Daemen College history, multi-sport athlete Mackenzie Donahue (East Aurora, N.Y./East Aurora) has been named the college's nominee for the 2017 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Woman of the Year.
Donahue is Daemen's first-ever nominee for the award which aims to recognize the academic and athletic achievements, community service and leadership of graduating female student-athletes from across the NCAA's three divisions. Donahue is one of 544 total nominees - the most ever in the history of the NCAA Woman of the Year program - including 117 from NCAA Division II institutions. The complete list of nominees is expected to be announced later today.
"Mackenzie Donahue truly embodies what it means to be an NCAA student-athlete," said Director of Athletics Bridget Niland. "Given her penchant for making history in a Daemen uniform, it is only fitting that she become our first NCAA Woman of the Year nominee. Mackenzie's drive and determination, whether it be in running, in her academic work, or in the community has been inspiring to those of us around her. Daemen Athletics is stronger because of the impact she made here over the last four years."
Competing in the sports of cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field over her four-year career, Donahue racked up an impressive 12 all-conference and seven all-region honors. She also earned team MVP honors on five occasions - four times for cross country, once for track and field - and she is an unprecedented three-time Daemen Female Athlete of the Year recipient.
Donahue's cross country career started with a bang as she led the Wildcats to the 2013 United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championship. In 2015, she became the first athlete from Daemen to qualify and compete at a national championship event at the NCAA Division II level, doing so in cross country. That year, Donahue finished as the runner-up at the East Coast Conference Cross Country Championship meet, and third at the NCAA Division II East Region Championship meet with the latter earning her a spot in the national championship field. She went on to finish 69th out of 247 competitors at the NCAA Division II National Championship meet held in Joplin, Missouri.
Donahue completed her cross country career this past fall, finishing again as the runner-up at the conference championship meet before posting a 10th-place finish at the regional championship meet. She concluded her cross country eligibility with 19 top-10 finishes in 25 career races, while also leaving as the school record-holder for both the 5K and 6K distances.
In track and field, Donahue dominated at nearly every distance she competed in. Between both the indoor and outdoor seasons, she holds 12 team records. The 2016-17 season was perhaps her finest as she qualified for both the NCAA Division II Indoor National Championship and NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championship meets. During the indoor season, Donahue broke her own ECC Championship meet records in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. She finished 13th in the 5,000-meter run at the indoor national meet. During the outdoor season, Donahue posted ECC Championship meet records in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, ultimately qualifying for the national meet in the latter. There, she ran to a ninth-place finish to earn Second Team All-America honors.
Academically, Donahue has been a multi-time All-Academic honoree from the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. A six-time Dean's List honoree, Donahue was named last month as the ECC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for track and field. She walked the stage at Daemen's commencement ceremony on May 20, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Promotion.
Donahue's extensive community service involvement was also noted in her nomination as she's spent time volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, cleaning parks and gardens, and at the Buffalo Marathon. Much of her community service involvement came through her association with Daemen's cross country and track and field programs, and also as an active member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, for which she served on the executive board in 2016-17.
The NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee will choose the top 10 nominees from each of the three NCAA divisions, and then three finalists from each group before settling on one award recipient. Each one of the 30 honored nominees will be recognized and the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced at an awards dinner at the J.W. Marriott in Indianapolis on Sunday, October 22.
Provided by the Daemen Sports Information Department.