NORMAN — A difference maker on the field and in the community, former Oklahoma track and field standout Jenny Carmichael is one of nine finalists for the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year Award, the NCAA announced Wednesday.
The nine finalists, chosen by the Woman of the Year selection committee, include three women from each of the three NCAA divisions who have demonstrated excellence in academics, athletics, community service and leadership.
Carmichael, who finished her athletic career in spring 2017, joins basketball player Phylesha Whaley (2000) and gymnast Brittney Koncak-Schumann (2007) as the only Sooner student-athletes to be named national finalists for the annual award.
“I am incredibly honored and humbled to be named a top nine finalist,” Carmichael said. “This has been the most unbelievable journey, and I have so many people to thank! First, all the glory belongs to Jesus for this. He has guided my journey and blessed this process in ways I never imagined.
“I also need to thank my family, who has been the most amazing support system,” she continued. “My parents are the true heroes for giving me the courage to dream. To my brothers, Christopher and John, I am forever grateful for their leadership and the way they spoke into me with constant support my whole life. I wanted to be just like them, and modeling after their examples allowed me to get here. To my Aunt Kay who paved the way for me as an athlete at Oklahoma and believed in my dreams, I am so grateful. To my sister who has walked with me since our first day freshman year in this program, she made me fight for something so much bigger in everyday and every practice. Thank you!
“To the coaches and administration, thank you for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to grow at the University of Oklahoma,” Carmichael concluded. “To my teammates, I love you all more than you'll ever know. To the entire Oklahoma community, thank you for joining me in this incredible ride and sharing in the journey. This is only the beginning of investing in generations of women in athletics, and I am forever grateful.”
The eight women joining Carmichael as finalists are: Sabrina Anderson (Slippery Rock), Serena Barr (Liberty), Eliana Crawford (Kenyon), Lizzy Crist (Washington University in St. Louis), Kaina Martinez (Texas A&M Kingsville), Christina Melian (Stony Brook), Natalie O’Keefe (Southwest Baptist) and Jayme Perez (East Texas Baptist).
Schools nominated a record 543 student-athletes for the 2017 award, and conferences narrowed the group to 145 nominees in August. In early September, the selection committee announced the Top 30 honorees.
“We are so thrilled for Jenny,” OU head track and field coach Jim VanHootegem said. “She brought such a tremendous amount of energy to OU track and field, OU Athletics and to the entire campus at the University of Oklahoma. While I understand that there are so many amazing student-athletes across all sports in all three NCAA divisions, I must also admit that I’m not surprised that Jenny is a finalist. She has just had an incredible impact on people in her time at OU.”
A native of Tulsa, Okla., Carmichael joined the Sooner program in 2013 as a discus thrower. She recorded a PR of 163-2.00 in the 2017 Big 12 Championship on her way to an eighth-place finish. She also competed in the Big 12 meet in 2013 and 2016 after redshirting in 2014.
She received her bachelor’s degree with summa cum laude distinction in engineering in 2016. She is currently working on a master of arts in global affairs through an OU online program, and she began working in Baton Rouge, La., as an engineer in July.
During the 2015-16 academic year, Carmichael was selected to serve as a member of the Homecoming Court. Nominated by OU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, a group she was serving as president of at the time, she became the first female student-athlete to be named to the Homecoming Court as one of the finalists for homecoming queen.
Two weeks later, Carmichael was named Outstanding Senior Woman at OU, another first for a Sooner student-athlete.
Carmichael earned Academic All-Big 12 first team honors three times and was named a Dr. Gerald Lage Award winner, the highest academic honor the Big 12 gives. She received the 1A FAR Academic Excellence award in 2016. She received the Outstanding Senior Woman Award from the College of Engineering and was named to the PE-ET Top 10 Seniors, given to the top 10 seniors on the basis of service, scholarship and leadership. With that award, she became the first OU student-athlete to be selected as an Outstanding Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and PE-ET Top Ten Senior.
She was a finalist for the 2017 NCAA Byers’ Scholarship and was a 10-time honoree on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. She was named to the President’s Honor Roll (4.00 GPA) three times and to the Dean’s Honor Roll (3.50-3.99) five times as an undergraduate.
She received the inaugural OU Sooner Choice FAR Award, given to the student-athlete who best exemplifies exceptional character, true sportsmanship and strong perseverance; the Sooner Oath Award, given to one male and one female student athlete who best demonstrate the leadership, sportsmanship, strong moral character, and Sooner pride found within the Sooner Oath; and was a two-time recipient of the University of Oklahoma Athletics Council Service Award. She served with Sooners for Haiti and, through that program, has sponsored five children in Haiti. Through Compassion International, she has sponsored a child from Peru.
Her leadership activities included president of the OU SAAC in 2015-2016, secretary for OU SAAC in 2014-2015, vice president for OU SAAC in 2013-2014 and track and field liaison for OU SAAC in 2012-2013.
From the nine finalists, the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will select the 2017 Woman of the Year, who will be named Oct. 22 at a ceremony in Indianapolis.