DeScenza Wins Honda Award

ATHENS, Georgia. April, 5. MARY DeScenza of the University of Georgia has been chosen as the 2006 recipient of the Honda Award for swimming and diving, signifying the senior as the nation's top collegiate female swimmer.

The Honda Award is given annually to the top female athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports as part of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards Program. DeScenza now is automatically nominated for the Honda-Broderick Cup, which will be presented in June to the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year.

DeScenza, a native of Naperville, Ill., was chosen for the Honda Award in voting done by 1,000 NCAA member schools. The other finalists were Georgia teammate Kara Lynn Joyce, Southern Cal's Blythe Hartley and Arizona's Whitney Myers. The four nominees were selected by the NCAA College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association.

"This award is certainly a fitting end to Mary's collegiate career," Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle said. "She has meant so much to the success of our program, and I am happy to see her honored in this way. Mary is a tremendous competitor, she works hard, she leads by example and she gives everything she has. She is one of the greatest champions Georgia has ever had, and we could not be prouder of her accomplishments."

"I'm thrilled to receive the Honda Award for swimming and diving," DeScenza said. "It makes me proud to accept this award on behalf of our program. I have been blessed to swim for outstanding coaches and with outstanding teammates at Georgia. It's been a great four years. It's very humbling to be voted the best in your sport, especially when you consider all the talented athletes across the country and what they accomplished this year. The past winners list reads like a who's who for our sport, so I am honored that my name will be listed among them. This award really means a lot to me."

DeScenza won the 100- and 200-yard butterfly events at the NCAA Championships. She also swam on two victorious relays and a third that set the American record. DeScenza earned seven All-America citations, giving her the maximum 28 for her career.

DeScenza became the first woman to win the 200 butterfly four straight years. Mary T. Meagher of Cal (the 1987 Honda-Broderick Cup winner) is the only other four-time winner, doing so in 1983, 1985, 1986 and 1987. DeScenza also led off the 400-yard freestyle relay team that finished second and set the American record with a time of 3:13.38.

DeScenza finished her Georgia career with six individual titles and as a member of nine victorious relay teams at the NCAAs.

Additionally this season, DeScenza won both butterfly events at the SEC Championships for the fourth straight year. She also won the 200-yard individual medley and was on three winning relays as the Lady Bulldogs won the conference title. DeScenza shared the Commissioner's Trophy with Joyce for high-point honors at the SECs.

Previously announced Honda Award recipients include Courtney Thompson of Washington for volleyball, Christine Sinclair of Portland for soccer, Caroline Bierbaum of Columbia for cross country and Paula Infante of Maryland for field hockey. Honda Award winners in basketball, golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, softball, tennis, and track and field will be announced in the coming months.

The Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year will be determined by separate balloting involving all NCAA-member institutions and the winner will receive the Honda-Broderick Cup in New York in late June. American Honda Motor Co., Inc. sponsors the Collegiate Women Sports Awards Program.