O'Donoghue selected as Tech's 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year winner

O'Donoghue selected as Tech's 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year winner

By Thomas Corhern
Cookeville Herald-Citizen Sports

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- In the history of the Tennessee Tech Athletics Man and Woman of the Year awards, which dates back to 1991, no student-athlete had claimed one of those awards as well as the university’s top honor — the Derryberry Award — in the same year.

In fact, in known Tech Athletics history, only three previous student-athletes — Craig Heinrich (tennis), Mike Winchester (baseball) and Stephanie Ward (cross-country and track and field) — had even won the prestigious award.

That changed this year.

Meghan O’Donoghue, a member of the Golden Eagle cross-country and track and field teams, was a runaway choice for the selection committee for the 2014 Woman of the Year award, just over a couple of months after her selection as co-winner of the 2014 Derryberry Award.

But it’s not like she didn’t have any competition for the Woman of the Year Award as O’Donoghue beat out some of the best and brightest senior female student-athletes the university could offer: Kayla Brewer (women’s basketball), Rebecca Cline (cross-country and track and field), Ashleigh Hancock (volleyball), Molly Heady (women’s basketball), Leigh Heffner (soccer), Taylor Hicks (soccer), Kendall Hooper (softball) and 2014 Tech Female Athlete of the Year winner Ellie Iaciofano (soccer and women’s basketball).

“It’s pretty tough competition,” O’Donoghue said. “I know on my team alone, I have some really smart, really talented and well-rounded people. Just from the girls that I’m really close to, that’s tough competition. Then to extend that to all of the different teams we have at Tech, it’s just incredible.”

O’Donoghue had a fantastic resume, anchored by a 4.0 grade point average in French and political science, graduating this past May with honors.

“There was quite a bit of blood, sweat and tears in that,” O’Donoghue said.

As a co-winner of this year’s Derryberry Award, she was recognized for her “moral and academic integrity, campus involvement, good citizenship, leadership qualities and physical vigor.”

And that pretty much described O’Donoghue to the letter.

“That’s probably my proudest accomplishment,” she said. “I remember hearing about the Derryberry Award when I was a freshman, and I remember thinking at the time that it would be amazing if I could get the award on my own. These last four years, I’ve been doing things and keeping that locked away in my memory. When I got the nomination form from (Tech associate athletic director for media relations) Rob (Schabert), I was thrilled. It’s amazing just to get nominated. As the process kept narrowing down through becoming a finalist and getting selected, it was probably the proudest moment of my college career, to be quite frank.”

She was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District first team. During the 2013 cross-country season, she ran a year-best 20:37.88 in the 5K at the Vanderbilt Invitational and raced in all 20 events Tech competed in during her final three seasons with the team, a feat recognized by receiving the team’s Most Dedicated Runner award.

In track and field, O’Donoghue competed in the 3,000-meter, 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races. She hit personal bests of 11:37.28 in the 3,000-meter indoor, 11:08.89 in the 3,000-meter outdoor and a 40:49.58 in the 10,000-meter.

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