The University of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics department recognized both the athletic and academic achievements by honoring its 750 student-athletes in a Golden Goldys/Scholar Athlete banquet, tonight at TCF Bank Stadium. The event marked the sixth year of the Golden Goldys and the 23rd year of the Scholar Athlete banquet.
The voting process includes spring sports of 2011 (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 2011-12 athletic year.
It was the year of women's hockey and wrestling as the two teams claimed a majority of the 2012 Golden Goldys. Women's hockey walked away with the best women's team, best women's coach (Brad Frost) and the Female Athlete and Breakthrough Athlete of the Year (Megan Bozek). Becoming a first-team All-American in 2012, Bozek was a first-team All-WCHA selection this season. Jumping from 23 points as a sophomore, Bozek established 42 points and ranked second in the nation in scoring by a defenseman as the Gophers. Head coach Brad Frost led the Gophers to their first national championship since 2005. Posting a 34-5-2 overall record and 21-5-2 in WCHA play, Frost and his team had two All-Americans and five players named All-WCHA honors. Along with the national title, the Gophers won the WCHA tournament championship, the team's first time 2005.
Wrestling went away with best male team, best male coach (J Robinson), male athlete of the year (Tony Nelson) and male rookie of the year (Dylan Ness). As a team, Robinson's wrestlers finished as the NCAA runner-up with 117.5 points. Winning the Big Ten regular season title and finishing second at Big Tens, wrestling posted seven All-Americans, the most at the NCAA Championships this season. With a record of 14-3, Minnesota was also the National Duals champions. Nelson, a sophomore, was the 2012 NCAA heavyweight champion and the Big Ten heavyweight champion. On the season, Nelson went 32-2 and won his last 25 matches. In his rookie season, Ness was the NCAA runner-up at 149 pounds. A NCAA All-American as a redshirt freshman, Ness is only the second Gopher freshman to ever reach a NCAA championship match. Posting a 24-9 record, he was also the Big Ten 149 runner-up.
Men's hockey's Nate Schmidt was named the male breakthrough athlete of the year. As a sophomore, Schmidt earned All-WCHA Second Team honors after playing just 13 games as a freshman. Going from three points as a rookie, he established 41 in his sophomore year. Schmidt led the nation in assists by a defenseman (38) and his assist total ranks as sixth in school history by a defenseman. Women's basketball's Rachel Banham was named the female rookie of the year. Named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, she was also a Second Team All-Big Ten selection. She led the team in scoring, assists, defensive rebounds, minutes played, three-pointers and three-pointer percentage. Banham ranked third nationally in rookie scoring and was named to the 2011-12 Full Court NCAA Women's Freshman All-America team.
The top academic awards were also handed out in the evening, including the Outstanding Achievement Award. It is presented to one male and one female student-athlete who are accomplished in the four areas emphasized by the NCAA Student-Athlete Affairs Program: Academic, Athletics, Leadership, and Volunteerism. The awards went to women's hockey's: Anne Schleper and men's swimming's Nathan Jobe.
The Top Five Award was handed out, which is given to the top male and female student-athletes with the highest cumulative grade point average: Kathryn Ritter (Track/CC), Amy Kubat (Track), Rebecca Gusmer (Track/CC), Allison Phillips (Soccer), Chimeremodo Okoroji (Track), Troy Larson (Baseball), Jared Anderson (Swimming), Andrew Knaak (Swimming), Ryan Todhunter -(Track) and Aaron Hill (Football).
The Outstanding Academic Team Award was presented to the men and women's teams representing both large and small team categories. Large teams are made up of 22 members or more and small teams are made up of 21 members or less and includes the GPAs of the past spring and fall semesters. The women's small team was women's tennis and the large team was cross country. The men's small team was tennis and the large team was indoor and outdoor track & field.
The teams who had the most community service hours during the 2011-12 season was women's track & field/cross country and men's tennis. Women's basketball was awarded the Gladys Brooks Commitment to Academic Excellence Award, while football was awarded the Norman Borlaug Commitment to Academic Excellence Award.
Joel and Lois Maturi were honored as this year's teammates of the decade for their overall support of Gopher Athletics and all of its 750 student-athletes.