Soccer’s Priest and Women’s Tennis Wahinepio Garner Gold Axe Honor

Soccer’s Priest and Women’s Tennis Wahinepio Garner Gold Axe Honor

Photo Courtesy of NAU Alumni Relations

From left to right: Malia Wahinepio with Kim Bruno, Elinor Priest with Meliksah Demir

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona’s seniors Elinor Priest from women’s soccer and Malia Wahinepio from women’s tennis were recognized with the prestigious Gold Axe Award for the fall semester for their achievements on and off the field and their service to the university as well as the community.

The tradition of the Gold Axe Award dates back to 1933, a year after the student body adopted the axe as the symbol for Lumberjack athletics. It was then that NAU adopted the tradition of awarding small gold axe pins to outstanding members of the student body. The gold axe pin is still considered the official emblem of the Associated Students of NAU and is presented to recognize students' outstanding achievements and distinguished service to the university and the greater community.

Priest ended her career at Northern Arizona with an exclamation point helping soccer make the Big Sky Championships for the first time since 2010.  The native of Portland, Ore. was instrumental in the program’s turnaround this season and was named to the All-Big Sky Honorable Mention Team. The forward ends her time at NAU with a 4.0 GPA with a degree in English and Psychology. She is a two-time CoSIDA/Capital One All-District 8 selection, a Golden Eagle Scholar-Athlete Award recipient and a Gold Axe Award winner. 

Wahinepio wrapped up her career in the spring as one of the most decorated players in school history. She was a fixture in the NAU starting lineup from her freshman season is one of six players in program history to be a four-time All-Big Sky selection. The native of Anthem, Ariz. had her finest season as a senior, breaking the school record with a 20-3 doubles record. For her career she totaled 51 singles wins and 53 doubles wins. Wahinepio was also an active member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and spent countless hours volunteering in the community. Wahinepio will graduate with a degree in early childhood education and is currently student teaching in Flagstaff.