FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After two record-breaking years and collegiate careers senior diver Kristy Ardavanis and senior cross country and track & field runner Diego Estrada have been named the 2013 NAU male and female Athletes of the Year.
The premier diver in the WAC over both her junior and senior seasons, Ardavanis completed her storied NAU diving career by being named an NCAA Championship alternate on 1-meter. She earned that honor after placing sixth on 1-meter at the NCAA Zone E Diving Championship and was just .55 points away from earning just the second NCAA Diving Championship berth in program history. She also advanced to the final on 3-meter at the NCAA qualifying meet.
Ardavanis won gold on 1-meter and silver on 3-meter at the WAC Championships to claim NAU's first diving title since 2008. During the regular season she broke the Wall Aquatic Center records on both 1-meter and 3-meter in her final home meet against Colorado State, with both scores also the second highest scores on each board in program history. Ardavanis won both the 1-meter and 3-meter events in all but one regular season dual meet she competed in and was named WAC Diver of the Week five times during the 2012-13 season, giving her 10 conference diver of the week awards over her final two collegiate season.
"I worked really hard this year and it is an honor to receive this award," Ardavanis said. "I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to compete at NAU for the last four years and am thankful for my amazing coaches and teammates who pushed me to be a become a better athlete."
Arguably the best distance runner to traverse the halls of NAU, Estrada ran the fastest time in 35 years and the second-fastest time in NCAA history outdoors in the 5,000 meters two weeks ago (13:15.33) at the Payton Jordan Invitational, setting Lumberjack and Big Sky records in the process. Though it may be the highlight of Estrada's final season, the record time is just one in a long string of amazing accolades compiled by Estrada in his final season with NAU.
Estrada capped the indoor season with career-high finishes at the NCAA Championships in both the 3,000 and 5,000-meter runs. He placed second in the 5,000 meters in a time of 13:30.24 and took fourth in the 3,000 meters in a time of 7:49.53, the second and third-fastest marks in school history in those events, respectively, scoring 14 points and placing NAU 16th in the country on the team rankings. Estrada also captured Big Sky individual titles in the mile and 3,000-meter runs, increasing his total to nine for his career.
"I am very grateful to once again be receiving this award," said Estrada, who was also named NAU Male Athlete of the Year last year. "NAU Athletics has a great athletic tradition and to receive this award is an honor. Being my senior year, it feels special to be recognized by NAU Athletics and I hope to keep representing this great institution with pride as I finish up my career."
Estrada is competing in the Big Sky Outdoor Championships for the final time this weekend, where he ranks first in the 1,500 and 5,000-meter runs.
Men: Zach Bauman, Football; Gabe Rogers, Basketball
Women: Savana Bezdicek, Golf; Payton Bock, Volleyball; Georgia Foltz, Soccer; Rochelle Kanuho, Track/Cross Country; Ellie Morrissey, Swimming; Amy Patton, Basketball; Hannah Stone, Tennis