Alex Ryan

Juliana Madzia, a 2017 graduate of the University of Cincinnati and a member of both the cross country and track & field teams during her time on campus, has been named to the NCAA Woman of the Year Top 30 list, the national association announced today. Madzia is one of 10 women from the NCAA Division I level being considered for the award that began with schools across every level nominating a total of 543 women for the honor that was first handed out in 1991.

According to the NCAA, the Top 30 honorees have demonstrated excellence in academics, athletics, community service, and leadership. They represent 12 sports and a wide range of academic majors, including neuroscience, communication, biomedical engineering, sport management, political science and art.

“The Top 30 honorees are remarkable representatives of the thousands of women competing in college sports each year,” said Sarah Hebberd, chair of the Woman of the Year selection committee and director of compliance at Georgia. “They have seized every opportunity available to them on the field of play, in the classroom and in the community, and we are proud to recognize them for their outstanding achievements.”

In late September, the selection committee will announce three women from each division as the nine finalists. From the 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.

“Being named to the NCAA Woman of the Year Top 30 means so much to me because it shows that the NCAA values athletes for more than their ability to be the best at their sport,” Madzia said ahead of the announcement. “It’s exciting that they recognize the importance of athletes’ dedication to academics and engagement with their communities, in addition to their athletic achievement, in such a high-profile way. It’s such a surprise to have made it this far in the Woman of the Year selection process, considering that I didn’t even start running for UC until my junior year because I didn’t believe I was capable of balancing Division I athletics with the level of leadership and involvement I wanted to have in other aspects of campus life. It’s an enormous honor to have made it to the Top 30 and to be in the company of 29 incredible women who have spent their time in college being leaders and role models both in and out of athletics.”

Madzia, who earned her degree in neurobiology in April 2017 and has recently begun her studies with the UC College of Medicine’s Medical Science Training Program, is the first Bearcats student-athlete to be named to the Top 30 of this prestigious honor. She is no stranger to being the first to receive honors as this past year, she was the first female student-athlete to be selected for a UC President’s Leadership Medal of Excellence as well.

“Juliana’s elite recognition as a NCAA Woman of the Year top 30 epitomizes our institution’s dramatic rise as a National leader in student-athlete performance in the classroom and fields of competition,” Director of Athletics Mike Bohn said. “She is a dynamic competitor that inspires all Bearcats to seek the highest.”

Not only did Madzia seek the highest in the classroom with a 4.00 grade-point average, she also sought after opportunities to assist others. Several of the groups Madzia has been affiliated with during her time at UC have also benefited from her leadership as she was the founder of Cincinnati Students Invisible, co-president of the UC chapter of GlobeMed as well as the director of its Global Health Education group and vice president of the UC French Club. She also has travelled the globe to work on a study tour on HIV/AIDS in South Africa and work a grassroots on site intern with Social Action for Women in Mae Sot, Thailand. And she did all of this while still competing at a high level for the Bearcats.

“We are very proud of Juliana,” Lara Crofford, assistant coach for women’s distance and cross country at UC, said. “To be named as one of the Top 30 NCAA female student-athletes in the nation is incredible. It speaks volumes about her as a person – a great leader on the course, in the classroom, and in the community. To balance athletics, academics, and community contributions, all at a very high level is no easy task, but Juliana made it appear easy. I am very excited to see what else she will accomplish in her career.”

Academically, Madzia was among the best on campus as evidenced by the collection of honors and awards that accompanied her lengthy resume of clubs, programs and other educational experiences. Madzia, who also obtained a minor in women’s, gender and sexuality studies upon graduation in April, recently began her studies at the UC College of Medicine’s Medical Science Training Program. For all her work, she was selected for a 2017 UC Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence, the highest honor on campus given to graduating seniors that exemplify scholarship, leadership, character, service and the ideals of the University of Cincinnati. The first UC female student-athlete to earn the honor since its inception in 2002, Madzia’s awards did not stop there as she was also a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, was named the female recipient of the American Athletic Conference’s Commissioner’s Postgraduate Leadership Award.

Madzia, who has been named to the Dean’s List all eight semesters she has attended UC, also earned her second academic honor of the season from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) as she was voted to the CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team, making her one of just 15 women nationally selected to the highest list and the only woman from the AAC to earn a place on any of the three national teams. Earlier this spring, she was selected CoSIDA Academic All-District 5 First Team as well.

The 2014 and 2015 Flying Pig Half Marathon champion before joining UC, Madzia also was a standout on the track as she finished her career holding the fifth-best time in the outdoor 10,000m run after she ran 17:15.93 at the 2017 AAC Outdoor Championships. All told during her career, she was part of a resurgence for the cross country program while also being part of four team trophies in track and field, including the 2016 and 2017 AAC Outdoor Championships and runners-up finishes at the 2016 and 2017 AAC Indoor Championships.

Madzia, while only a member of the Bearcats program for two years, made the most of her time as she was consistently the cross country team’s top finisher including a 13th-place finish at the 2016 American Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships in West Chester, Ohio, a placement that garnered her all-conference honors, the first for the Bearcats women in their four years in the league. Her finish, along with another strong showing from her teammates, saw UC place sixth overall, the highest finish for the Bearcats since 2004 and their first single-digit finish in AAC competition.


In 2017, 543 women were nominated for the award, including 229 from Division I; 117 from Division II and 197 from Division III. Collectively, the 543 women carried an average GPA of 3.69. A further breakdown reveals that 122 of the nominees are multi-sport athletes with Madzia included in that listing as a member of the cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field squads. Overall, 100 women that competed in outdoor track & field were nominated with 87 more competing indoors, both making up the two largest groups of the nominees this year.