GAINESVILLE, Fla. - University of Florida freshman and 2012 NCAA all-around champion Kytra Hunter (Frederick, Md.) is this year's Honda Sports Award recipient for gymnastics, distinguishing her as the nation's top collegiate female athlete in the sport. The honor was based on the results of national balloting among all NCAA member schools as part of The Collegiate Women Sports Awards program, now in its 36th year.
Hunter is only the third freshman gymnast to collect the Honda Award and the first since Georgia's Hope Spivey in 1991. Hunter is the second Gator gymnast to receive the honor, as Ann Woods received the 1982 award.
Hunter used a collegiate-best total of 39.725 to become the first Gator to win the NCAA all-around title April 20 in Duluth, Ga. She added the vault title on April 22 to become only the fifth in the meet's 31-year history to win multiple event titles as a freshman. About a month earlier, Hunter became the first Gator since 1995 to win the Southeastern Conference all-around title. She also took the league's vault title with a collegiate-best 9.975. Hunter, who picked up the maximum of five All-America honors at the NCAA meet, led the Gators in 2012 with 21 event titles in team competition (seven floor exercise, six all-around, five vault, two balance beam and one uneven bars).
The SEC Freshman of the Year turned in the Gators' top 2012 scores for all-around (39.725), vault (9.975) and floor exercise (9.975).
"I am so honored to receive gymnastics' Honda Sports Award. My first season of collegiate competition has been such a wonderful experience," Hunter said. "I would like to thank the Collegiate Women Sports Award for sponsoring this honor. I am also grateful for my coaches, teammates and family because their strength and support was so important and appreciated. Of course, I must also thank all the Gator fans who came out to cheer us on – we love performing for you!"
The Honda Sports Award is given annually to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports, along with automatic eligibility to become a "Top Three" finalist for Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year and a candidate for the Honda Cup that is awarded annually to The Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. The ballot listing all 12 individual sports winners will be sent to all NCAA-member schools on June 14. The top three vote-getters become finalists for the Collegiate Women Athlete of the Year and travel to Los Angeles for the 2011-12 Honda Cup ceremony on June 22-23.
The other nominees for the 2012 award were three senior gymnasts: Amy Glass of Boise State, Jaime Pisani of Arkansas and Geralen Stack-Eaton of Alabama. The names of the four nominees were put forward by the United States Elite Coaches Association.
"This is an absolutely incredible honor. It is very well-deserved for Kytra. Winning the all-around in the SEC and NCAA Championships were incredible accomplishments. Her work ethic, character and determination have played a very large role in her success this year as a freshman," Florida head coach Rhonda Faehn said. "Every title she has won doesn't even come close to the happiness she has for contributing to the team and the University of Florida.
"I'd like to thank The Collegiate Women Sports Awards for sponsoring this honor," Faehn continued. "What a wonderful awards program to recognize the achievements and efforts of such dedicated female student-athletes." In honor of Hunter winning the award, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., will donate $5,000 to the women's athletic program at the University of Florida. A Gator has been recognized as a Honda Sports winner 15 times across six different sports. Gator Great and U.S. Olympic gold medalist swimmer Tracy Caulkins is the only Gator to win the Broderick Cup, earning the top award in 1982 and 1984.
Previously announced Honda Sports Award recipients include cross country - Sheila Reid, Villanova University; field hockey - Megan Frazer, University of Maryland; soccer - Teresa Noyola, Stanford University; swimming & diving - Caitlin Leverenz, University of California, Berkeley; volleyball - Alex Jupiter, University of Southern California and basketball - Brittney Griner, Baylor University. Honda Award winners in golf, lacrosse, softball, tennis and track & field will be announced later this season.
Visit The Collegiate Women Sports Awards website for more information about this award.