Auburn’s Atkinson, Muzaric named NCAA Woman of the Year Nominees

AUBURN, Ala. ( – A pair of Auburn All-Americans in gymnast Caitlin Atkinson and shot put specialist Valentina Muzaric are among the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year nominees, the NCAA announced Tuesday.

The NCAA Woman of the Year award honors graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in academics, athletics, service and leadership.

Atkinson capped her senior season with four NACGC/W regular season All-America honors. She was placed on the first team for her performances in the all-around and beam, while being put on the second team for floor and vault. In addition, she was named a finalist for the AAI Award and was placed on the All-SEC team.

The Houston, Texas, native became the fourth Tiger in program history to be named SEC Gymnast of the Year after guiding the young Auburn team to a handful of team firsts. She captured all five individual titles in the team’s historic win over Alabama, while also leading the Tigers to a victory at Georgia. Overall, she won 14 event titles on the year and swept all events twice.

Away from the gym, Atkinson is a three-time NACGC/W Scholastic All-American and SEC Academic Honor Roll honoree. She is a member of the Chi Alpha Sigma Honor Society and has been a Top Tiger all four years.

Muzaric, of Velika Gorica, Croatia, picked up the fifth All-America honor of her career this season at the NCAA Outdoor Championships where she finished 10th in the shot put. The two-time SEC runner up finished her career as Auburn’s shot put record holder in both indoor and outdoor competition. Her indoor distance record of 58-8.5/17.89m gave her runner-up honors at the 2014 NCAA Championship.

Muzaric has also excelled in the classroom as she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2015 with her degree in Business Administration. The four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll honoree and NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship nominee is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Management Information System and Master of Business Administration.

In addition to their accomplishments in competition and the classroom, both Atkinson and Muzaric have been active in the Auburn community. They have each taken part in Blessings in a Backpack, the City of Auburn Downtown Trick or Treat event, and the Beat Bama Food Drive in addition to various other activities.

The NCAA encourages member schools to honor their top graduating female student-athletes each year by submitting their names for consideration for the Woman of the Year award.

Next, conferences assess their member school nominees and select up to two conference nominees. The Woman of the Year selection committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will then choose the top 30 honorees – 10 from each division.

From the top 30, the selection committee determines the top three honorees from each division and announces the nine finalists in September. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics then chooses from among those nine to determine the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year.

The top 30 honorees will be celebrated and the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be announced at the annual award ceremony Oct. 16 in Indianapolis.

Categories: Auburn