Kelati Named Honda Sport Award XC Finalist for Second Straight Year
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— University of New Mexico junior Weini Kelati has been named a finalist for the Class of 2020 Honda Sport Award for Cross Country as announced by Chris Voelz, Executive Director of THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA), on Monday evening.
Kelati is one of four finalists for the award, joining Katie Izzo and Taylor Werner from Arkansas and Alicia Monson from Wisconsin.
This is the second straight year that the Lobo has been selected as a finalist for the Honda Award and comes after a stellar junior season.
In the five races that Kelati ran in, she won four races and finished runner-up in the other. Kelati closed the cross country season winning her last three races, which culminated in her first cross country national championship on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Of note, in the last two cross country seasons, Kelati has not finished lower than second in a race. In that time, Kelati has claimed seven individual titles and three runner-up finishes, including finishing runner-up in the NCAA Championship last season and winning the title in 2019.
Kelati’s margin of victory in her three final wins of the season were also of note as the runner won her second straight Mountain West Championship in 19:11.2, breaking the MW record by 26 seconds and finished 49 seconds ahead of the runner-up. In the NCAA Mountain Regional, Kelati cruised to her second straight regional title with a showing of 18:57.8, finishing 57 seconds ahead of the runner-up finisher. Against the top runners in the country at the NCAA Championship, Kelati finished over nine (9.6) seconds ahead of Monson to capture her first cross country championship in 19:47.5.
On Saturday, Kelati became just the second individual cross country champion in UNM history, joining Ednah Kurgat, who won in 2017. Kurgat later went on to win the Honda Sport Award that year, the first and only Lobo to do so.
As a result of her performance, Kelati earned her third all-America accolade, bringing her career total to 10 amongst cross country and track and field.
This season, Kelati was twice named Mountain West Women’s Peak Athlete of the Week (Oct. 8, Oct. 22), twice named the USTFCCCA NCAA Division I National Athlete of the Week (Oct. 7, Nov. 4) and was named the MW Women’s Conference Athlete of the Year for the second straight year.
Per the release from the CWSA, “The Honda Sport Award has been presented annually by the CWSA for the past 44 years to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA- sanctioned sports and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics”. The winner of the sport award becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious 2020 Honda Cup which will be presented on a live telecast on CBS Sports Network on Monday, June 22, 2020, in downtown Los, Angeles.
“The nominees were chosen from the top four finishes at the 2019 NCAA Cross Country Championship. The Honda Sport award winner for cross country will be announced next week after voting by administrators from over 1,000 NCAA member schools. Each NCAA member institution has a vote.”
Further, Honda Sport Award winners will be presented with the honor during on-campus presentations throughout the year and all Honda Sport Award winners become a finalist for the prestigious 2020 Honda Cup award presented in June.
The CWSA, celebrating its 44th year, has honored the nation’s top NCAA women athletes for their superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. Since commencing its sponsorship in 1986, Honda has provided more than $3.4 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women’s athletics programs.