The Northwest Conference (NWC) has nominated Hope Duenas '20 and Nikki Kates '20 for the 2019–2020 NCAA Woman of the Year. Six NWC athletes were nominated. Willamette University is the only NWC school with two nominees.
Hope Duenas '20
A four-year member of the Willamette women's track and field team, Duenas celebrates an outstanding career in the women's discus and hammer events for the Bearcats. A team captain, Duenas earned two NWC Championship individual titles in the discus throw, one bronze medal in the discus throw, a first-place United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-West Region ranking, three All-West Region honors, and two NCAA Championship performances, where she placed 20th in the discus throw in 2018, and 11th in the same event in 2019. She ranks second on Willamette's all-time top 10 list in the discus, and fifth in the hammer throw. In 2018, she was recognized as Underclass Woman of the Year, which is awarded to a first or second-year women's team student-athlete.
A biology major, Duenas was named to the 2019 NCAA All-Academic Team, and was actively involved in a number of community and academic-based initiatives on campus including serving as SAAC communications officer, serving as Spanish Club treasurer, participating in Poetry Club, serving as a resident advisor, and serving as a student representative on the Public Health Degree Leadership Committee. She also served as a student athletic trainer for two years.
Nikki Kates '20
A member of the Willamette women’s swimming program, Nikki Kates competed primarily in the backstroke and individual medley events. She earned All-NWC Second Team honors in 11 events throughout her career, including the 200-yard individual medley, 100-yard backstroke, and 200-yard backstroke. Named Rookie of the Year in 2017, she was twice named the Skip R. Kenitzer Leadership Award, awarded to a swimming student-athlete who demonstrates leadership. She is the program record-holder in the 200-yard individual medley and was awarded the Jean Williams Female Athlete of the Year award in 2020, awarded to a female student-athlete who demonstrates leadership, scholarship and athleticism.
A dual major in refugee and migration studies and psychology, Kates was named a College Swimming Coaches of America (CSCAA) Scholar All-American all four years, in addition to earning university-recognized academic honors in six semesters throughout her collegiate career. She was twice awarded the Shannon P. Hogue Civic Communication and Media Award and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Chi Alpha Sigma national honors societies. She was a Rhodes Scholarship finalist in 2019, and will serve as a Coro fellow in September, where she will focus on public affairs, community leadership and social issues in San Francisco.