BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Throughout her stellar four-year career as a member of Carleton College's cross country and track and field teams, Ruth Steinke accumulated numerous Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) championships and All-American honors while also excelling in the classroom and in the community. Wednesday, it was announced that Steinke would cap her Knights career with one more prestigious honor as she was named the MIAC's nominee for the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year award.
The NCAA Woman of the Year Award, now in its 26th season, honors senior student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service, and leadership. Steinke – a multiple-time conference champion and All-American runner – was selected from an impressive pool of candidates by the MIAC's Senior Woman Administrators and Management Committee thanks to her sustained excellence in each of those three areas.
Steinke's all-around collegiate career – in athletics, academics and beyond – certainly make her deserving of such an honor. But, as the Mathematics major from Lima, N.Y., 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 championship – 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.
|Ruth Steinke runs to her fourth-straight
MIAC steeplechase title in May 2016.
(Photo by Matt Higgins, MIAC)
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 an unforgettable season on the track on the national stage 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 an All-American honor in the Distance Medley Relay in 2015 and graduated with numerous All-American and All-Region accolades.
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 the 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 involvement, 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 many more.
Steinke was also celebrated for displaying outstanding sportsmanship at the 2014 MIAC Cross Country Championships. After crossing the finish line first to win the individual title, Steinke immediately turned her attention to the runner-up to congratulate and encourage her competitor, Macalester's Kimber Meyer. Carleton detailed the sportsmanlike display on its web site following the meet. She was named to the All-MIAC Sportsmanship team during her career and attending the MIAC's Student-Athlete Leadership Conference in 2014.
In order to be eligible for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award, nominees must have completed their intercollegiate eligibility in her primary sport by the end of the 2015-16 competitive season and received her undergraduate degree prior to the conclusion of the summer 2016 term, and have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale.
All conference nominees – Steinke included - will be forwarded to the NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee. This year, there were 142 Women of the Year honored by conferences and independent schools, which were selected from a record pool of 517 nominees.
In early September, the Woman of the Year selection committee will name the Top 30 honorees, representing the top 10 women in each division. The selection committee will then choose and announce the nine finalists, with three from each division, at the end of September. Then, from the pool of nine finalists, the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will determine the 2016 Woman of the Year. 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.
Steinke was one of 10 extremely deserving nominees to emerge from the MIAC, all nominated by their institution for their outstanding collegiate careers in athletics, academics, leadership and service. Other nominees included Augsburg College's Erika Allen (hockey), Saint Mary's University's Macki Fadness (hockey and volleyball), the College of Saint Benedict's Mary Franz (volleyball), the University of St. Thomas' Emily Gapinski (cross country and track and field), Concordia College's Olivia Johnson (basketball and track and field), Macalester College's Sarah Jonathan (cross country and track and field), Bethel University's Caroline Kivisto (hockey and softball), St. Catherine University's Robyn Rohr (softball), Gustavus Adolphus College's Alyssa Taylor (volleyball). Fans can congratulate Steinke and the other nominees on social media using the hashtag #NCAAWOTY.
| Carleton Press Release | 2016 NCAA Woman-of-the-Year Press Release | Full List of Conference Winners |