The University of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics department recognized both the athletic and academic acheivements by honoring its 750 student-athletes in a Golden Goldys/Scholar Athlete banquet, tonight at TCF Bank Stadium. The event marked the fifth year of the Golden Goldys and the 22nd year of the Scholar Athlete banquet.
The voting process includes spring sports of 2010 (baseball, men's and women's golf, rowing, softball, men's and women's outdoor track & field and men's and women's tennis) and the fall and winter sports of the 2010-11 athletic year.
The best male athlete award went to swimmer Michael Richards . The 2011 Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships, Richards repeated as the Big Ten champion in the 50 and 100 freestyle, becoming first swimmer in conference history to do this since 1962-63. He broke the all-time Big Ten record in the 50 freestyle (19.05) and was also a part of the Big Ten record-breaking and conference champion 200 free relay team. A four-time All-American as a senior, Richards also finished ninth in the 50 free at the NCAA Championships, held at the U of M Aquatic Center.
Kelci Bryant is the recipient of the female athlete of the year, her second-straight honor. In 2010-11, Bryant was the NCAA champion in the 1-meter and the NCAA runner-up in the 3-meter. With her winning her second national championship this year, she became the first Gopher to win multiple NCAA titles in Minnesota history. Named the 2011 national diver of the year, Bryant swept the springboard events at the Big Ten Championships.
Swimming’s Derek Toomey and hockey’s Amanda Kessel received the male and female rookie of the year honors. Toomey was a three-time All-American as a freshman at the NCAA Championships. Scoring in all three individual events contested, he finished ninth in the 50 free and 11th in the 100 free at the Big Ten Championships. The rookie was also named a first team All-Big Ten. Kessel received the female rookie award after a stellar first year with the women’s hockey team. Leading the team with 50 points, Kessel was named the WCHA Rookie of the Year. A third-team All-WCHA honor, Kessel was also named to the WCHA All-Tournament Team when she scored a hat trick in the WCHA semifinal game.
Men’s Hockey’s Kent Patterson and volleyball’s Jessica Granquist were named the male and female breakthrough athletes. After starting in only six games as a sophomore, Patterson became the Gophers’ starting goaltender this season. After holding a 2-4-1 record in 2009-10, Patterson became a Second-Team All-WCHA selection. Named the team’s most valuable player, Patterson held a save percentage of .926 against conference opponents. After averaging 2.36 digs as a sophomore, Granquist led the Big Ten in digs per game (5.18) as a junior. For her efforts, she was later named the Big Ten. Going from a defensive specialist as a sophomore, Grandquist became the starting libero as a junior. She became the fourth Gopher to earn Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award and the only libero to earn All-Mideast Region honors.
Women’s swimming and diving’s Kelly Kremer and Terry Nieszner were named the female coaches of the year, while their team took home team of the year honors. The Gophers had three individual NCAA champions in Kelci Bryant , Haley Spencer and Jillian Tyler . Coming off their best finish in school history, the Gophers finished ninth overall with 192 points. The Gophers also finished as the Big Ten runner-up this season.
Like swimming, men’s track and its coach Steve Plasencia took home the men’s team and men’s coach of the year awards. Plasencia led his team to last year’s outdoor (2010) and this year’s indoor Big Ten Championships. Minnesota men’s track has now won three-straight indoor Big Ten titles. Named the Big Ten Coach of the Year five times and the Midwest Region Coach of the Year, Plasencia coached six 2011 Big Ten indoor champions.
Winning the community service awards was women’s track and men’s tennis. Community service hourse are recorded by personal submission or student-athletes who volunteer through team or department organized events from April 15, 2010-April 10, 2011. The women’s track team record 3,394 hours, averaging 32.02 hours per student-athlete. Men’s tennis recorded 101 hours, averaging 9.26 volunteer hours per student-athlete.
On the academic side, the department honored 567 student-athletes, 64 of whom had perfect 4.0 grade point averages. A total of 397 student-athletes earned the distinction of being called a Gold Scholar-Athlete, while 170 were awarded the Maroon Scholar-Athlete title. To be honored as a Gold Scholar-Athlete, each recipient must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0, while participating in intercollegiate athletics at the U. Maroon Scholar-Athletes must have earned a 3.0 GPA in either 2010 spring or fall semesters.
In addition to honoring the Gold and Maroon Scholar-Athletes, the MAC also honored the top five female and male scholar-athletes. To be awarded the Top Five Scholar-Athlete award, each recipient must have three continuous seasons training as a member of a University of Minnesota athletic team, have trained in the current year of awarding, be an undergraduate student, and have earned one of the five highest cumulative GPA’s.
Top Five Female Winners:
Rebecca Gusmer – Cross Country and Track
Molly Kalmoe – Rowing
Amy Kubat – Track
Portia Okoroji – Track
Kathryn Ritter – Cross Country and Track
Top Five Male Winners:
Addison Demer – Track (second-time recipient)
Troy Larson – Baseball
Adam Lueck – Football
Michael Shelendich – Track (second-time recipient)
Michael Torchia – Cross Country and Track (third-time recipient)
The Outstanding Academic Team Award is presented to the men and women’s teams representing both large and small teams for a total of four winners. Large teams are made up of 23 members or more and small teams are made up of 22 members or fewer. Winning teams are determined by ranking the percentage of 3.0 semester GPA’s on the team as well as ranking each team by their cumulative GPA. The scores are combined to give overall winners. This year’s winners were Men and Women’s Tennis for the small teams and Women’s Cross Country and Baseball for the large teams.
Women’s hockey student-athlete Kelli Blankenship was the recipient of the Richard “Pinky” McNamara Student-Athlete Achievement award for her ability to “inspire all by making an extraordinary effort to succeed despite difficult circumstances.” Kelli has overcome numerous obstacles and made tremendous academic and scholarly achievement during her time at the University. She plans to apply for entrance into the professional program of Dental Hygiene.
The Outstanding Achievement Award. This year’s winners were Kaylee Jamison (Women’s Swimming and Diving) and Michael Torchia (Men’s Cross Country and Track). This award is presented to one female and one male student-athlete who are accomplished in the four major areas emphasized by the NCAA Student-Athlete Welfare Program: Academics, Athletics, Leadership, and Volunteerism. Along with being a scholar athlete, Jamison was a five-time All-American, a two-time Big Ten Champion and a captain on the women’s swimming team. volunteer through the Fairview MS Achievement Center and Children’s Dental Services. An all-region runner, Torchia has been a part of five conference championships in three years. A Rhodes scholar nominee, Torchia has a degree in biochemstry and will attend medical school next year. He has also been a staple with the community outreach program, Torchia has volunteered in places like Peru, Costa Rica and Honduras to work in orphanges and personal fundraising efforts to fundraise to benefit people in third-world countries. He also works to create awareness on local homeless shelters.
The Tom H. Swain Campus Recognition Award was presented to Dr. Jeanne Higbee to honor her commitment to the academic success of our student-athletes. Dr. Higbee has been teaching on campus since 1999 and currently is a professor in the department of Post Secondary Teaching and Learning. She has been the faculty of record for a number of years for the First Year Experience course for freshman student-athletes, a class dedicated to the successful transition of student athletes from high school to college.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
2007: Meredith Nelson, Volleyball
2008: Heather Dorniden , Women’s Track & Field
2009: Gigi Marvin, Women’s Hockey
2010: Kelci Bryant , Diving
2011: Kelci Bryant , Diving
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
2007: Cole Konrad, Wrestling
2008: Jayson Ness , Wrestling
2009: Eric Decker, Football & Baseball
2010: Jayson Ness , Wrestling
2011: Michael Richards , Swimming
FEMALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
2007: Heather Dorniden , Women’s Track & Field
2008: Jillian Tyler , Women’s Swimming & Diving
2009: Monique Lamoureux, Women’s Hockey
2010: Noora Raty , Women’s Hockey
2011: Amanda Kessel , Women’s Hockey
MALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
2007: Kyle Okposo, Men’s Hockey
2008: Hassan Mead, Men’s Cross Country
2009: Jordan Schroeder , Men’s Hockey
2010: AJ Pettersen , Baseball
2011: Derek Toomey , Men’s Swimming and Diving
WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE YEAR
2007: Women’s Track & Field
2011: Women’s Swimming and Diving
MEN’S TEAM OF THE YEAR
2009: Track & Field
2010: Track & Field
2011: Track & Field
FEMALE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
2008: Leslie Knight, Basketball
2009: Megan Duwell, Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
2010: Anne Schleper , Women’s Hockey
2011: Jessica Granquist , Volleyball
MALE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
2008: Damian Johnson , Men’s Basketball
2009: Ben Kuznia , Football
2010: Mike Thorn , Wrestling
2011: Kent Patterson , Men’s Hockey
WOMEN’S TEAM COACH OF THE YEAR
2008: Wendy Davis , Rowing
2009: Mikki Denney Wright , Soccer
2010: Mike Hebert , Volleyball
2011: Kelly Kremer and Terry Nieszner , Swimming and Diving
MEN’S TEAM COACH OF THE YEAR
2008: Tubby Smith , Basketball
2009: Tubby Smith , Basketball
2010: John Anderson , Baseball
2011: Steve Plasencia, Track and Field
FEMALE TEAM COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD
2008: Track & Field
2009: Track & Field
2011: Track & Field
MALE TEAM COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD
2008: Track & Field
TEAMMATE OF THE YEAR
2007: Alicia Jerome, Photographer
2008: Sue LaTendresse, Executive Administrative Specialist
2009: Cherie Carver, Radisson University
2010: Jean Freeman, Former Women’s Swimming and Diving Coach and U of M Hall of Fame President
2011: Deborah Diamond, Marketing