Four Pac-12 student-athletes among finalists for prestigious Honda Cup

StanfordPhoto.com

SAN FRANCISCO - Four Pac-12 student-athletes were named Honda Sports Award winners during the 2016-17 campaign. Twelve women athletes are honored each academic year and all are finalists for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious Honda Cup. The winner of the Cup will be announced live during the Collegiate Women Sports Awards Show presented by Honda on CBS Sports Network on Monday, June 26 at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET from USC’s Galen Center in Los Angeles.

Presented annually by the CWSA, the Honda Sports Award acknowledges athletic achievement as well as scholastics and community involvement, and is given to female athletes in 12 different NCAA-sanctioned sports throughout the year. Each Honda Sports Award winner is recognized as the top collegiate female athlete in her sport, and the award is considered by many as one of the highest honors a female college athlete can receive in the nation.

In addition to the four Honda Sports Award winners, STANFORD's Nicole Stafford will be recognized at the awards show as the 2017 Inspiration Award winner. Information about Stafford and the Inspiration Award is below. 

The four Pac-12 Honda Sports Award winners in are: 

Basketball: Kelsey Plum, Washington 
Plum swept the 2017 national player of the year honors after a stellar season. Plum passed former Honda Cup winner Jackie Stiles as the NCAA all-time scoring leader, finishing her career with 3,527 points. She led the nation in scoring her season season, averaging 31.7 points per game while shooting 53.3 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from three and 88.8 percent from the foul line. This season she became the first player in Pac-12 history, female or male, to score 3,000 career points and broke the NCAA single- season scoring record with 1,109 points. In addition to her scoring prowess, Plum also led the team in assists (168) and steals (52) while averaging 5.1 rebounds per game which was tied for second-most on this Washington squad that won a program-record 29 games. 

Golf: Monica Vaughn, Arizona State 
Vaughn was the 2017 NCAA individual medalist and member of the national championship Sun Devil women’s golf team. Vaughn became the storied program's sixth NCAA individual medalist as part of the eighth NCAA championship team in 2017, both nation-leading marks for Division I women's golf. She is also a three-time PING/WGCA All-American, a three-time First Team Pac-12 All-Academic honoree, was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team, and represented the United States at the 2016 Curtis Cup. Vaughn earned five top-three finishes in her last six collegiate tournaments including NCAA Regionals and NCAA Championships. She is ranked No. 10 on both the Women's World Amateur Golf Rankings as well as golfstat.com. 

Swimming and Diving: Katie Ledecky, Stanford 
Ledecky becomes the ninth Cardinal to win this award with the most recent coming from Felicia Lee in 2014. Ledecky stepped on Stanford’s campus for her freshman year as the most decorated American female athlete at the Rio Olympic Games with four golds, one silver, and two World Records. The momentum continued, capping her freshman campaign with five national titles. She was the first NCAA swimmer in 29 years to capture individual NCAA titles in the 200, 500 and 1650-free, and was a member of Stanford’s American record-setting 400 free and 800 free relays. A five-time All-American, Ledecky broke the American and NCAA record in the 500 free, and bested her own NCAA mark in the 1000 free en route to the national title in the 1650 free, an event she won by more than 20 seconds. 

Volleyball: Inky Ajanaku, Stanford 
Ajanaku becomes the eighth Cardinal to win the award for the sport. She helped lead the Cardinals to their record-tying seventh national title. She was named as the 2016 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player. 

Ajanaku is a three-time AVCA First Team All-America and was a 2016 Senior CLASS Award First Team All- American. She was also honored with VolleyballMag.com’s National Player of the Year. Ajanaku received her fourth All-Pac-12 Conference honor following her senior campaign after leading the league with 192 blocks, ranking fifth nationally. She ended her career with 627 total blocks, the most in Stanford history. 

Inspiration Winner: Nicole Stafford, Stanford
In addition to the four Honda Sports Award winners, Stanford’s Nicole Stafford is the 2017 Inspiration Winner. The Honda Inspiration Award is given to a female athlete who has overcome hardship and was able to return to play at the collegiate level. A call for nominations to all SWAs, Sports Information Directors and Athletic Directors of all NCAA-sanctioned schools provides the candidates for this award. A special committee of the CWSA Board reads all the submitted materials for these candidates and narrows down the field to the most worthy candidates. Then the entire Board of Directors chooses the Inspiration Award winner.

Stafford suffers from functional movement disorder, which occurs in the water. She developed the inexplicable neurological condition a few months after committing to Stanford on a swimming scholarship. As a result of the disorder, when she finishes a race, she has to be pulled from the water, her body locked in a tangle of paralyzing cramps and seizure-like movements. 

The Collegiate Women Sports Awards is celebrating its 41st year of honoring the nation’s top NCAA women athletes, recognizing superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service.   Since commencing its sponsorship in 1986, Honda has been a 31-year sponsor and provided more than $3.1 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women’s athletics programs at the institutions.

For more information on the Honda Cup, visit www.collegiatewomensportsawards.com.

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