LARAMIE, Wyo. (RELEASE)- Clara Tapia has been chosen by the Mountain West to be one of two student-athletes to represent the league in contention for the NCAA Woman of the Year award. Tapia is joined by Utah State soccer goalie Grace McGuire.
An NCAA-record pool of 585 women were nominated for the award, and that number has now been narrowed down to 149.
Tapia, a senior guard from Barcelona, Spain, helped guide the Cowgirls to their first ever Mountain West Championship game appearance, as the Cowgirls amassed 25 wins last season, tied for the second-most in school history. The Cowgirls also advanced to the quarterfinals of the Women's National Invitation Tournament for the second time in program history. She has been on teams that have won at least 20 games in every season she has been a Cowgirl. Wyoming has also won a school-record-tying 13 conference games in all three of her seasons in the Brown and Gold.
Tapia started all 34 games for the Cowgirls this season, averaging 3.9 points, 3.1 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game in 26.9 minutes per contest. One the nation's best decision-makers with the ball, she finished second in the Mountain West and 23rd in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio with a mark of 2.5, finishing the year with an even or positive ratio in 32 of 34 games. She was the Cowgirls' top assister in 11 games, and finished her career at No. 5 on Wyoming's all-time assist list with 394 in just three seasons. Defensively, Tapia registered 28 steals, two blocks and took nine charges during her senior campaign.
Off the court, Tapia earned her second-consecutive CoSIDA Academic All-America honor, as she was added to the second-team. She is the only Cowgirl basketball player with two such honors in the program's history. Additionally, she was a finalist for the Rosemarie Martha Spitaleri award as Wyoming's top undergraduate student. Tapia carried a 4.0 GPA in molecular biology and chemistry.
Established in 1991, the NCAA Woman of the Year award recognizes graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership throughout their collegiate careers.
The initial field of nominees competed in 23 different sports across all three NCAA divisions, including 262 from Division I, 131 from Division II and 192 from Division III. Multisport student-athletes accounted for 144 of the nominees.
During the next step, the Woman of the Year selection committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will choose the top-30 honorees — 10 from each division.
The selection committee will determine the top-three honorees from each division from the top 30 and announce the nine finalists in September. From those nine finalists, the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics then will choose the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year.
The Top-30 honorees will be celebrated and the 2019 NCAA Woman of the Year will be named at the annual award ceremony Oct. 20, in Indianapolis.