Amherst's Hamill Wins NCAA Today's Top VIII Award

By Cate Smith '05, Acting Asst. Sports Information Director

December 19, 2005

AMHERST, MA - Recent Amherst College graduate and former cross-country and track and field runner Carter Hamill '05 (Richmond, VA) was selected as one of eight recipients of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Today's Top VIII Award on Monday. Today's Top VIII Award recognizes outstanding achievement in athletics, academics, character and leadership in the previous calendar year, and is one of the most prestigious awards available to student-athletes. Hamill is the first-ever Amherst student honored, the first NESCAC athlete recognized and the first Division III selection in three years. She and the other seven recipients will be recognized at the NCAA Honors Celebration at the 100th annual NCAA Convention in Indianapolis, IN on Saturday, January 7th.

In her collegiate career, Hamill racked up eight All-NESCAC tabs, 13 All-Region nods, and an astounding 18 All-America awards to go along with her five national crowns. She currently holds Amherst records for the indoor 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter, and the 10,000-meter in outdoor competition. In addition, she is a member of the record-holding distance medley relay teams for both indoor and outdoor track and field. In her time at Amherst, Hamill was honored with the Gordon B. Perry Memorial Award for scholarship and citizenship and at graduation in May 2005, when she received a B.A. in psychology, she shared the Howard Hill Mossman Trophy with soccer, squash and lacrosse standout Ashley Harmeling '05. The award is presented annually to the member of the senior class who has brought, during his or her four years, the greatest honor in athletics to the College. Amherst head cross country and track and field coach Erik Nedeau said, quite simply, Hamill is "by far the best woman I've coached, without a doubt."

The other honorees of this year's award are: Samantha Arsenault, University of Georgia (Swimming and Diving); Sarah Dance, Truman State University (Swimming and Diving); Nick Hartigan, Brown University (Football); DeMeco Ryans, University of Alabama (Football); Richelle Simpson, University of Nebraska (Gymnastics); Christine Sinclair, University of Portland (Soccer); Jamie Southern, Fresno State University (Softball).

Past recipients of the NCAA Today's Top VIII Award include sports greats Doug Flutie (Boston College '85), Cheryl Miller (USC '87), John Elway (Stanford University '83), Aly Wagner (Santa Clara University '03), Peyton Manning (University of Tennessee '98), Eli Manning (University of Mississippi '04), Rebecca Lobo (University of Connecticut '96), Drew Brees (Purdue University '01), Lisa Fernandez (UCLA '94), Steve Young (Brigham Young University '84), and Tiki Barber (University of Virginia '97).

A highly-touted high school recruit, Hamill burst onto the collegiate running scene in her rookie season, finishing as Amherst's top-runner in every cross-country meet but the season opener, and racked up All-NESCAC, All-New England, All-Region, and All-America honors, leading the Jeffs to a seventh-place showing at the national meet. Hamill began her indoor track career in similar style, becoming the first Jeff woman to win an Open New England Championship event when she notched a first-place finish (among a field of Division I, II and III competitors) in the 3,000-meter run. At the 2002 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field National Championships at Ohio Northern University, Hamill took home her first of five career national crowns, in the 5,000-meter race. The national title capped an extraordinary rookie campaign, in which she shattered previous school records in the 1,500-meter, 3,000-meter, 5,000-meter and 4x800-meter relay events. The outdoor season brought more of the same, as Hamill notched her third All-America nod and took third place in the 5,000 at the NCAA Outdoor National Championships.

Hamill continued her dominance during her sophomore and junior years, picking up eight more All-America honors, All-NESCAC plaudits in every season and numerous regional post-season awards. She highlighted her sophomore season with two top-five finishes at outdoor nationals, in the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races. In 2003, after finishing second at NCAA Cross Country Division III Regionals, she went on to take fourth at the national meet, leading Amherst to a fifth-place team finish, its highest in program history. In the winter, she took first place at NCAA Indoor Track and Field Regionals in the 5,000-meter, top honors at Open New Englands in the 3,000-meter and repeated as the National Champion in the 5,000-meter at indoor nationals at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She also led Amherst's distance medley relay to a second-place finish at nationals for her 11th All-America nod. Hamill followed up with another top finish at NCAA Regionals in the spring in the 5,000-meter, as well as second place in the 5,000 at NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Nationals hosted by Milliken University in Dekatur, Illinois and her third national crown, this time in the 10,000-meter race.

As a senior co-captain in 2004, Hamill continued her barrage on her collegiate running competition, taking third at the NESCAC Championships and fifth at both NCAA Regionals and Nationals. During the indoor season, she bested the field in the 3,000-meter at NCAA Regionals as well as the 5,000-meter at NESCACs, NCAA Regionals, and Open New Englands before earning her fourth career national title to complete the three-peat at indoor nationals at Illinois Wesleyan University. She was also named New England Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year by the NCAA at the Championships. In her final season, Hamill won the NESCAC and NCAA Division III Regional Championships in the 5,000-meter and took second in the same event at Open New Englands and Nationals, hosted by Wartburg College in Waverly, IA. She capped her prolific career as Amherst's most storied and decorated runner with her fifth national title in the 10,000. Her time of 34.00.43 bested her closest competitor by more than a minute, and appropriately, as Hamill's performances had done her entire career, shattered the stadium record and turned out the year's best time in Division III.