Amherst, N.Y. - Multi-sport athlete Mackenzie Donahue (East Aurora, N.Y./East Aurora) of Daemen College is moving on to the next round of the 2017 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Woman of the Year award process after being named the East Coast Conference's nominee for the honor. Donahue, who put together one of the most prolific athletic careers in Daemen history while competing in both cross country and track and field, is one of 145 female student-athletes to be nominated by their respective conferences out of 543 athletes who earned the nomination from their respective institutions.
In late June, Donahue was named 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. The 145 nominees remaining in the award process come from 16 different sports spanning all three NCAA divisions. Of those recognized, 58 nominees competed in Division I, 34 in Division II and 53 in Division III.
"The East Coast Conference is very proud to have Mackenzie Donahue as our nominee to this year's NCAA Woman of the Year Award," said ECC Commissioner Dr. Robert Dranoff. "Not only has she made her mark athletically on the conference and has participated in conference activities such as our ECC Leadership event, but she has also excelled academically and in the Daemen community. Mackenzie makes a great addition to the roster of women who the ECC has nominated for this award over the years."
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 recipient of Daemen's Female Athlete of the Year award.
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. 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 last 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 indoor and 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 the ECC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for track and field this past spring. 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.