Iowa's Metcalf and Northwestern's Nielsen Named 2008 Big Ten Athletes of the Year
June 20, 2008
Park Ridge, Ill. - Iowa wrestler Brent Metcalf and Northwestern lacrosse standout Hannah Nielsen were respectively named the Jesse Owens Male and Suzy Favor Female Athletes of the Year, the Big Ten Conference announced on Friday. The Big Ten Athletes of the Year are selected by a panel of conference media members from nominations submitted by each institution.
Metcalf led the Iowa wrestling program to its 21st overall NCAA Championship in 2008, scoring 23 team points to be named the event's Outstanding Wrestler. The sophomore earned the individual national title at 149 pounds by defeating Bubba Jenkins of Penn State, 14-8, in the finals. At the conclusion of the season, Metcalf took home the Dan Hodge Trophy, given each year to the nation's best wrestler, and was also named the NCAA Wrestler of the Year by RevWrestling.com. The Davidson, Mich., native was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and the Outstanding Wrestler of the Big Ten Championships, becoming just the fourth grappler in school history to earn both awards in the same season. In 2008, his first year with the Hawkeyes, Metcalf finished with a 35-1 record, ending the season on a 35-match winning streak, posting a 21-1 dual record and a perfect 8-0 mark in Big Ten competition. Metcalf is the fourth male Hawkeye to be named Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year and the first since Chuck Long in 1986. He is the third Iowa wrestler to receive the top conference distinction.
A junior on the 2008 NCAA Champion Northwestern lacrosse team, Nielsen is already one of the most decorated players in program history. The Adelaide, Australia, native captured the 2008 Tewaaraton Trophy, given to the nation's best collegiate lacrosse player. She also earned the 2008 Honda Lacrosse Sports Award and earned Player of the Year accolades from Inside Lacrosse, the American Lacrosse Conference, Women's Lacrosse and WomensLax.com. The midfielder was an integral part of NU's fourth-straight national championship in 2008, leading her squad in scoring with 114 points (51 goals, 63 assists), to become the first Wildcat to record back-to-back 100-point seasons. Since arriving in Evanston, Nielsen has helped the Wildcats to three of the team's four consecutive NCAA Championships on the strength of a 62-3 combined record during her three seasons on the field. Nielsen becomes the third female Wildcat to take home the Suzy Favor award and the first since 1987 when Jennifer Averill, a two-sport athlete in field hockey and lacrosse, was honored. Nielsen and Averill stand as the only two lacrosse players to earn the top Big Ten accolade.
The Big Ten Conference has recognized a Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year since 1982 when Indiana's Jim Spivey earned the inaugural award. The following year, a women's award was created. In 1991-92, as part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of women's athletics in the conference, the women's award was renamed in honor of former Wisconsin track standout and three-time recipient Suzy Favor.
A complete list of this year's Big Ten Conference Jesse Owens and Suzy Favor Athletes of the Year nominees and all-time winners follows.
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS
1982 - Jim Spivey, Indiana, track and field/cross country
1983 - Ed Banach, Iowa, wrestling
1984 - Sunder Nix, Indiana, track and field
1985 - Barry Davis, Iowa, wrestling
1986 - Chuck Long, Iowa, football
1987 - Steve Alford, Indiana, basketball
1988 - Jim Abbott, Michigan, baseball
1989 - Glen Rice, Michigan, basketball
1990 - Anthony Thompson, Indiana, football
1991 - Mike Barrowman, Michigan, swimming
1992 - Desmond Howard, Michigan, football
1993 - John Roethlisberger, Minnesota, gymnastics
1994 - Glenn Robinson, Purdue, basketball
1995 - Tom Dolan, Michigan, swimming
1996 - Eddie George, Ohio State, football
1997 - Blaine Wilson, Ohio State, gymnastics
1998 - Charles Woodson, Michigan, football
1999 - Luke Donald, Northwestern, golf
2000 - Ron Dayne, Wisconsin, football
2001 - Ryan Miller, Michigan State, ice hockey
2002 - Jordan Leopold, Minnesota, ice hockey
2003 - Amer Delic, Illinois, tennis (co)
2003 - Matt Lackey, Illinois, wrestling (co)
2004 - Damion Hahn, Minnesota, wrestling
2005 - Luis Vargas, Penn State, gymnastics
2006 - Peter Vanderkaay, Michigan, swimming
2007 - Cole Konrad, Minnesota, wrestling
2008 - Brent Metcalf, Iowa, wrestling
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNERS