Georgia Bulldog Swimmer Julie Hardt NCAA Woman of the Year Finalist

ATHENS, GA, September 22. FORMER Georgia All-American Julie Hardt has been named one of the 10 finalists for the 2004 NCAA Woman of the Year award, one of the most prestigious honors the NCAA bestows.

The university reported yesterday that they had received notice of the honor from NCAA sources in Indianapolis. Hardt was a swimmer with the Lady Bulldogs from 2000 to 2004. She is the seventh Georgia woman to be honored as a finalist, five having been swimmers.

This award recognizes young women in intercollegiate athletics for their outstanding achievements in athletics, academics and community service. The finalists were chosen from representatives from each state and the District of Columbia.

³We could not be more excited for Julie and the University of Georgia,² said Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle. ³She is a tremendous young lady that works extremely hard in the classroom, the pool and in the community. She got the job done in all accounts.²

Hardt was a member of the 2001 NCAA champion squad. Along with NCAA Woman of the Year winners Kim Black (2001), Kristy Kowal (2000) and the late Lisa Coole (1997), Hardt joins Sheila Taormina (1991) as finalists. Taormina went on to Olympic swimming and triathlon berths after being a finalist for NCAA Woman of the Year.

Georgia is the only school to have more than one NCAA Woman of the Year recipient, earning three ‹ all from the swimming and diving program.

³This is a very prestigious award,² added Bauerle. ³It is difficult to be a representative from your state, but to be a top 10 finalist is an absolute accomplishment.²

A native of Carson City, Nevada, Hardt is an eight-time All-American and has earned honorable mention All-America accolades five times. She was a member of the 2001 NCAA-winning 800-yard freestyle relay. She helped lead the Lady Bulldogs to the 2001 NCAA team title and three runner-up finishes (2002-04), while finishing in the top three at the SEC Championships each year. Hardt also earned a gold medal as part of the U.S. 800-meter freestyle relay at the 2001 FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

Hardt, the daughter of Christopher and Adrienne Hardt, has been equally successful in the classroom, as she stands currently stands with a 3.8 grade point average and is expected to graduate in May 2005 with a degree in Exercise Science and Psychology. She has been a member of the Presidential Scholar (4.0 term GPA) or the Dean's List (3.5 term GPA) every semester at UGA. She is member of the Golden Key and National Society of Collegiate Scholars and is a three-time member of both the SEC Academic Honor Roll and the College Swim Coaches Association All-Academic Team. Hardt's volunteer work while at Georgia includes the Athens Mentoring Program, St. Mary's Hospital, Hero to the Hedges, Adopt-A-Family, the Athens Food Bank, Catch the Spirit swim camp, Toys for Tots and the Habitat for Humanity Women's Build.

Earlier this year, Hardt and Georgia gymnast Kinsey Rowe were recipients of the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, representing the 51st and 52nd won by University of Georgia student-athletes, the fifth-highest total of any school in the nation.

³As in all great careers, she had her ups and downs, and this is a terrific reward for all her efforts in all her arenas,² offered Bauerle.

The 10 finalists for the 2004 NCAA Woman of the Year award include six NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipients, and seven of the 10 are or were involved with the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committees (SAAC) on their campuses and in their conferences.

Of the finalists, six are from Division I member institutions, two are from Division II and two are from Division III. They represent a variety of sports, including lacrosse, swimming, indoor and outdoor track, cross country and soccer, from schools in California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia.

This is the 14th year the Woman of the Year award has been given.

The finalists were selected from 276 entries by a committee comprised of athletics administrators from NCAA member colleges and universities. The NCAA Committee on Women¹s Athletics will select the 2004 NCAA Woman of the Year from among the 10 finalists. The national winner will be announced at an awards dinner October 31, in Indianapolis.

Last year¹s national winner was Ashley Rowatt, a swimming and diving standout from Kenyon College, a Division III school in Gambier, Ohio. She was the first student-athlete in Division III to win the award.

The 10 finalists for the 2004 award are:

Kelly Albin, California, University of California, Davis, lacrosse.
Hometown: Fort Bragg, California.

Julie Hardt, Georgia, University of Georgia, swimming. Hometown: Reno, Nevada.

Abbey Elsberry, Idaho, Boise State University, indoor and outdoor track.
Hometown: Billings, Montana.

Megan Grunert, Indiana, University of Indianapolis, swimming. Hometown: Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

Sherita Williams, Michigan, Michigan State University, indoor and outdoor track. Hometown: Tampa, Florida.

Kinsey Coles, North Dakota, North Dakota State University, cross country, indoor and outdoor track. Hometown: Hillsboro, North Dakota.

Kayla Heising, Ohio, College of Wooster, swimming. Hometown: Wauseon, Ohio.

Shana Robinson, Oklahoma, University of Tulsa, indoor and outdoor track.
Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Imani Dorsey, Oregon, University of Portland, soccer. Hometown: Santa Monica, California.

Melissa Block, Virginia, Mary Washington College, lacrosse. Hometown: Annapolis, Maryland.

Other past NCAA Woman of the Year winners include: 2002 Tanisha Silas, track and field, University of California, Davis; 2001 Kimberly A. Black, Olympic gold medal swimmer, University of Georgia; 2000 Kristy Kowal, Olympic silver medal swimmer, University of Georgia; 1999 Jamila Demby, track and field, University of California, Davis; 1998 Peggy Boutilier, lacrosse and field hockey, University of Virginia; 1997 the late Lisa Ann Coole, swimming, University of Georgia; 1996 Billie Winsett Fletcher, volleyball, University of Nebraska, Lincoln; 1995 Rebecca Lobo, basketball, University of Connecticut;1994 Tanya Hughes Jones, track and field, University of Arizona; 1993 Nnenna Jean Lynch, cross country and track and field, Villanova University; 1992 Catherine Byrne Maloney, swimming, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and 1991 Mary Beth Riley-Metcalf, cross country, Canisius College.