Golden Goldys Awarded Monday
University of Minnesota diver Kelci Bryant and wrestling's Jayson Ness and were named the male and female athlete of the year, announced tonight at the fourth-annual Golden Goldys award gala at TCF Bank Stadium. Bryant and Ness both had outstanding athletic performances, each winning an NCAA individual title this past winter.
The voting process includes spring sports of 2009 (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 2009-10 athletic year.
Bryant, who transferred to Minnesota this season, earned a NCAA title in 3-meter diving and was the NCAA national runner-up in the 1-meter event, the only two events she competed in at the NCAA tournament. A native of Chatham, Ill., Bryant posted a 415.50 to win the 3-meter and was the first Gopher diver to participate at the NCAA Championships since 2004. She is only the second diver in school history to earn a national title and the first under NCAA competition. Named the Big Ten Diver of the Year and the Big Ten Diver the Championships, Bryant swept the 1- and 3-meter events at the Big Ten Championships and went undefeated during the regular season.
Ness dominated his weight class and was the NCAA and Big Ten Champion at 133 pounds. In his senior year, the Bloomington, Minn., native went undefeated at 31-0 and completed just the sixth perfect season in school history. Along with winning an individual title, Ness earned the Hodge Trophy, which is handed out to the best wrestler in the country. As a recipient of the Hodge Trophy, he became the first in school history to win the prestigious award. During his tenure, Ness was a four-year All-American. Named the Big Ten Wrestler of the Year, Ness was also named the InterMat Wrestler of the Year and the NWCA Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships. It's Ness' second Golden Goldy award after winning the male athlete of the year in 2008.
Volleyball was named the Female Team of the Year, while coach Mike Hebert was named Women's Team Coach of the Year. With a record of 28-9, Hebert led the Gophers to the NCAA Final Four. With a 15-5 record, Minnesota finished third in the Big Ten and ranked No. 4 in the final AVCA Top 25 poll. The Gophers had two All-Americans on their team in Lauren Gibbemeyer and Taylor Carico. The 2009 season marked the third time coach Hebert led the Gophers to the Final Four. It was also the 10th time Hebert has led the Gopher volleyball program to a third-place or better finish in the Big Ten in the last 11 years.
For the second-straight year, the men's track & field took home the best men's team category. Under head coach Steve Plasencia, the Gophers earned Big Ten Track & Field titles at 2009 Outdoor and 2010 Indoors. This past winter, the Gophers' Indoor team repeated as Big Ten Champions and scored second-most points in meet history. At the NCAA Championships, the indoor team finished eighth at the NCAA Championships, the program's best finish since 2003. During that time, the Gophers had nine earn All-America honors at NCAA Indoors
Baseball's John Anderson captured the Men's Team Coach of the Year Award. Anderson led Minnesota to its best turnaround in the nation in 2009. Under Anderson's tutelage, the Gophers went 40-19 overall and held a 17-6 record within the Big Ten Conference. In 2009, Anderson and his program reached the NCAA Regional title game, only to fall to then-No. 2 LSU. The 2009 season marked the ninth time Anderson has led the Gophers to a 40-plus win season and the program's 16th NCAA Regional appearance.
Women's hockey's Noora Räty earned the Female Rookie of the Year after a stellar performance between the pipes. During a span of 26 games for the Maroon and Gold, Räty was named a first-team All-American and first-team All-WCHA, the only one to be named as a freshman this season. She was a top-three finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, which is given to the top women's hockey college player in the country. Hailing from Espoo, Finland, Räty was the WCHA Goaltending Champion when she held a 0.94 goals against average against her conference opponents. Of her 26 games played, she recorded seven shutouts or held her opponents to just one goal in 10 games.
Baseball's AJ Pettersen was named the Male Rookie of the Year. In 2009, Pettersen was named an All-Big Ten Second Team shortstop as a freshman and a 2009 Freshman All-American. A Minnetonka, Minn., native, Pettersen ranked second in the Big Ten in runs scored, first in sacrifice bunts and ninth in on-base percentage. As a rookie, Pettersen hit a .353 batting average with 79 hits and 45 RBI. He was named to the 2009 Big Ten All-Freshman Team and earned All-Big Ten Tournament team honors last season.
Women's hockey won its second award of the evening when Anne Schleper walked away with the Female Breakthrough Athlete. After being a second-team All-WCHA as a rookie, she was named the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year. The St. Cloud, Minn., native was named a first-team All-American after not earning All-America honors last season. Schleper went from the team's eighth-leading scorer to the team's fourth and became the Gophers' best defensive player. A Patty Kazmaier nominee, Schleper had 26 points as a freshman and bumped up to 32 this season.
The Male Breakthrough Athlete went to wrestling's Mike Thorn. Hailing from St. Michael, Minn., Thorn became the Big Ten champion at 141 pounds after placing fifth the previous year. After going 0-2 in the 2009 NCAA Championships, he became an All-American after finishing seventh overall. This season, Thorn defeated the No. 1 seed in the tournament and the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the country in the Big Ten title match. He was ranked in the top 10 the entire season and finished second on the team with nine falls and had a team-high 11 wins by major decision.
The community service awards were also handed out. Baseball averaged 12 hours per week, while rowing averaged 17 hours per week. This year, the CHAMPS Life Skills recorded 6,989 hours of community service between Sept 1 through April 15th. During that time, the U of M student-athletes held 161 organized outreach events and had 588 student-athletes volunteered at least once this year between that span.
Former Gopher swim coach, Jean Freeman, was honored with the Teammate of the Year. The legendary coach and current President of the M Club was honored for her lifelong commitment to Gopher Athletics and the student-athletes.
Along with the awards, the Gophers honored longtime U of M Gopher fan and member of the media, Darcy Pohland. She passed away this March and was honored tonight with a video tribute and by fellow media member and the Golden Goldys emcee, Mark Rosen.
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
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
2007: Cole Konrad, Wrestling
2008: Jayson Ness, Wrestling
2009: Eric Decker, Football & Baseball
2010: Jayson Ness, Wrestling
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
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
WOMEN'S TEAM OF THE YEAR
2007: Women's Track & Field
MEN'S TEAM OF THE YEAR
2009: Track & Field
2010: 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
MALE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
2008: Damian Johnson, Basketball
2009: Ben Kuznia, Football
2010: Mike Thorn, Wrestling
WOMEN'S TEAM COACH OF THE YEAR
2008: Wendy Davis, Rowing
2009: Mikki Denney Wright, Soccer
2010: Mike Hebert, Volleyball
MEN'S TEAM COACH OF THE YEAR
2008: Tubby Smith, Basketball
2009: Tubby Smith, Basketball
2010: John Anderson, Baseball
FEMALE TEAM COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD
2008: Track & Field
2009: 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