Football and baseball’s Eric Decker and women’s hockey’s Gigi Marvin were named the University of Minnesota Male and Female Athletes of the Year, announced tonight at the third-annual Golden Goldys banquet at the Radisson University. Along with the individual awards, men’s track & field and soccer earned team of the year honors.
The voting process includes spring sports of 2008 (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 2008-09 athletic year. Of Minnesota's 25 sports, 22 were represented in the nominations this year.
Decker is the first Golden Gopher to letter in both baseball and football since 1999. On the football field, Decker was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver. As a junior last year, Decker broke the school record for receptions (84) and posted the second-best receiving yards total (1,074). He led the Big Ten in receiving yards and receptions per game. The Cold Spring, Minn., native was also a finalist for the 2008 Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wide receiver. In his first year with the Gopher baseball team in 2008, Decker batted .329, with 42 runs scored, three home runs, 28 runs batted in and an on-base percentage of .439.
Marvin completed her fourth year with the Gopher women’s hockey team this past March. During her tenure, Marvin scored 87 goals and 108 assists for 195 points, ranking sixth in school history. In her final season with the Maroon and Gold, Marvin was a team co-captain, and led the Gophers to an NCAA Frozen Four appearance and a WCHA regular season championship. A second-team All-WCHA honoree, Marvin was also a top-10 Patty Kazmaier finalist, an award given to the nation’s top women’s hockey player. The team’s most valuable player, Marvin scored two goals and tallied two assists at the NCAA Frozen Four, ranking second in NCAA competition. A member of the U.S. National Team, the Warroad, Minn., native later earned a gold medal at the IIHF World Championships.
Minnesota’s best male team of the year went to the track & field team. The Gophers won their first Big Ten Indoor Championships since 1998 and second ever in school history this past winter. Under the guidance of head coach Steve Plasencia, the Gophers captured individual Big Ten titles in five events and scored points in 16 of the 18 events overall. Minnesota’s 42-point win was the largest margin of victory since 2004 and the fourth largest over the past 20 years. At the NCAA level, Minnesota finished 14th overall at the NCAA Indoor Championships and garnered three All-America honors.
The best female team award went to soccer. The soccer team won its first Big Ten regular season title since 1997. For the first time in school history, the Gophers advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 and finished the season ranked No. 15. Under head coach Mikki Denney Wright, the Gophers posted a 22-4-0 overall record and an 8-2-0 mark in conference action. With the 22 wins, it broke the school record for wins in a season and winning percentage. Along with the team award, Minnesota had four players earn All-Big Ten honors. Mikkey Denney Wright was also named the best women’s team coach. Along with the team accomplishments, she was named the 2008 Big Ten Coach of the Year.
For the second-straight year, men’s basketball’s Tubby Smith was named the male coach of the year. In just his second year at the helm of Gopher basketball, Smith led Minnesota to its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2005. Smith led the Gophers to a 22-11 overall record, including a mark of 16-3 at home. His 22 wins during 2008-09 rank second in school history. The Gophers finished seventh in the Big Ten with a 9-9 conference mark.
The two hockey teams also took home the rookie of the year awards in Jordan Schroeder and Monique Lamoureux. Schroeder was named the 2009 National Rookie of the Year and the WCHA Rookie of the Year. In his first year with Minnesota, Schroeder finished second on the team in scoring with 13 goals and 32 assists for 45 points. He ranked fourth nationally in points and tied for the league lead in assists. Hailing from Prior Lake, Minn., Schroeder was also a All-WCHA Second Team selection. Monique Lamoureux led the Gopher women in scoring with 75 points. As a freshman, Lamoureux was a second-team All-American and a Patty Kazmaier finalist, the only rookie to accomplish the feat nationally. On the conference level, she scored 61 points en route to the WCHA scoring crown, WCHA Rookie of the Year honors, and first-team all-conference recognition. Lamoureux held the largest point production by a freshman in Gopher history as the team went 25-1-2 when she scored a goal and 30-2-3 when tallying a point. The Grand Forks, N.D. native later earned a gold medal with Team USA at the IIHF world championships in April.
Football’s Ben Kuznia earned the Male Breakthrough Performance award. After making just four appearances in his freshman and sophomore seasons, Kuznia exploded on the football scene, starting in 12 of 13 games as a junior. The Olivia, Minn., native was third on the team in receiving (31 catches) after entering the season with zero career receptions in only five career games. After starting his Gopher career as a walk-on in 2005, Kuznia earned his first athletic letter in 2008 and was also an Academic All-Big Ten honoree. Megan Duwell earned the Female Breakthrough Performance award. After being the team’s No. 6 finisher as a sophomore, she became one of the team’s best runners during the 2008 season. Duwell earned her first career All-America honors when she went from finishing 142nd at the NCAA meet in 2007 to 32nd overall in just one year. A first-team All-Big Ten honoree, the West Bend, Wis., native was the team’s co-most valuable player. She finished fourth overall at both the Big Ten Championships and at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Kelsey Hood (Soccer)
Heather Dorniden (Track & Field)
Liz Roehrig ( Track & Field)
Gigi Marvin (Hockey)
Jenny Shaughnessy (Swimming & Diving)
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Eric Decker (Football & Baseball)
Colin Lee-To (Swimming)
Jayson Ness (Wrestling)
Hassan Mead (Track & Field)
Ryan Stoa (Hockey)
FEMALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Tamara Strahota (Soccer)
Malisa Barnes (Softball)
Kiara Buford (Basketball)
Monique Lamoureux (Hockey)
Teresa Puga (Golf)
MALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Jordan Schroeder (Hockey)
Tobias Wernet (Tennis)
Russell Dabritz (Gymnastics)
Nadav Kochavi (Swimming)
Zach Sanders (Wrestling)
FEMALE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Melanie Gagnon (Hockey)
Megan Duwell (CC/Track & Field)
Alexis Russell (Gymnastics)
Kelly Schmidt (Volleyball)
Meredith McCarthy (Swimming)
MALE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Jeff DeSmidt (Baseball)
Ben Kuznia (Football)
R. J. McGinnis (Track & Field)
Aaron Studt (Track & Field)
Alex Wold (Swimming)
BEST WOMEN’S TEAM COACH
Matt Bingle (Track & Field)
Mikki Denney Wright (Soccer)
Brad Frost (Hockey)
BEST MEN’S TEAM COACH
Dennis Dale (Swimming & Diving)
Steve Plasencia (Cross Country/ Track & Field)
Tubby Smith (Basketball)
BEST FEMALE TEAM
Track & Field
BEST MALE TEAM
Swimming and Diving
Track & Field
Community Service Awards
Women's Track & Field
Teammate of the Year
Cherie Carver, Radisson University
Female Athlete of the Year
2007-Meredith Nelson (Volleyball)
2008- Heather Dorniden (Track & Field)
Male Athlete of the Year
2007-Cole Konrad (Wrestling)
2008-Jayson Ness (Wrestling)
Female Rookie of the Year
2007-Heather Dorniden (Track & Field)
2008-Jillian Tyler (Swimming & Diving)
Male Rookie of the Year
2007-Kyle Okposo (Hockey)
2008-Hassan Mead (Cross-Country)
Female Team of the Year
2007- Track & Field
Male Team of the Year
2008-Track & Field
Female Breakthrough Athlete of the Year*
2008-Leslie Knight (Basketball)
Male Breakthrough Athlete of the Year*
2008-Damian Johnson (Basketball)
Best Women’s Team Coach*
2008-Wendy Davis (Rowing)
Best Men’s Team Coach*
2008-Tubby Smith (Basketball)
*Indicates new awards in 2007-08 season
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