The Big 12 Conference has nominated Meaghan Nelson (Iowa State) and Ifeatu Okafor (Texas Tech) for 2013 NCAA Woman of the Year.
The award honors senior student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership. The top 10 honorees and the nine finalists from Divisions I, II and III will be honored, and the 2013 NCAA Woman of the Year winner announced, at a dinner in Indianapolis on October 20, 2013.
Nelson was a four-time All-America first team selection on the Iowa State cross country and indoor and outdoor track teams. She picked up two of the honors in cross country in 2011 and 2012 while also winning the Big 12 individual titles.
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native captured the Big 12 outdoor title in the 10,000-meter run in 2013 and finished as runner-up in the Conference indoor 5,000- and 3,000-meter runs. Nelson placed 16th in the 10,000-meter run at the recently-completed NCAA Outdoor Championship.
She also excelled academically in her major of Kinesiology & Health as an USTFCCCA Academic All-American and Academic All-Big 12 first team selection. Nelson was a member of the Chi Alpha Sigma honor society and an Iowa State scholar-athlete. Among her campus activities was serving three years on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) with an appointment to the executive board in 2012-13. Nelson’s community service initiatives included “Can the Cats”, Special Olympics, Adopt-A-Family, “Soles4Souls” shoe drive and preparing Thanksgiving food baskets.
Okafor earned three All-America certificates as a thrower on the Texas Tech outdoor track squad, including first team recognition in 2011 when she was also the Big 12 shot put champion. The four-time Academic All-Big 12 selection received the 2012 Dr. Gerald Lage Award and was a finalist for both the 2012 John McLendon Scholarship and 2013 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar.
An Exercise and Sport Sciences major, Okafor served on SAAC four years and was president of the organization as a senior. She also worked with Special Olympics, YWCA, Big Brother/Big Sister, South Plains Food Bank and Children’s Covenant Hospital. Additional community service projects for the Houston-native included the Salvation Army, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Children’s Miracle Network, Juvenile Diabetes Research, Meals on Wheels and the Lubbock Lions Club.