INDIANA’S DROUIN AND MINNESOTA’S KESSEL NAMED BIG TEN ATHLETES OF THE YEAR|
The Big Ten Conference announced that Indiana track and field athlete Derek Drouin was named the Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year. He is the first five-time high jump national champion in NCAA history. The conference also announced that Minnesota ice hockey player Amanda Kessel was honored as the Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year. She earned two national player of the year honors after leading her team to an undefeated season and its second straight NCAA title.
Drouin is the fifth Indiana student-athlete to win Male Athlete of the Year accolades and first since football’s Anthony Thompson in 1990. Drouin began his senior year at the 2012 London Olympics, where he claimed a bronze medal in the high jump to become the first Canadian male to medal in a track and field event since 1996. Collegiately, Drouin was name the National Indoor and Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year after winning both NCAA high jump titles, becoming only the second student-athlete to win both honors in the same season. During the indoor season, Drouin became the first NCAA student-athlete to win the NCAA high jump title three times after taking home the 2013 championship. At the conference championships, he won the high jump and took third in the heptathlon, setting a world record in the heptathlon high jump. On the outdoor circuit, Drouin claimed his fifth overall NCAA high jump title at the 2013 national meet, making him the only five-time champion in the event’s history, and won his seventh Big Ten Championships crown in the event. A semifinalist for the Bowerman Trophy, the nation’s top award for collegiate track and field, Drouin was the Big Ten’s Indoor and Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year in addition to earning Academic All-Big Ten honors.
Kessel becomes just the second Minnesota student-athlete to be voted the conference’s Female Athlete of the Year, following swimming and diving’s Gretchen Hegener in 1997. The Gopher junior won the 2013 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the nation’s top player, becoming just the second player to win the award in program history, and helped Minnesota to an undefeated season and its second consecutive national championship in 2013. Kessel, who also was honored as USA Hockey’s Bob Allen Women’s Player of the Year, is just the fourth player in NCAA history to score more than 100 points in a season, finishing with 101 on 46 goals and 55 assists. She averaged 2.66 points per game, including 28 multi-point games, which allowed her to surpass 200 career points midway through the season to become the 24th player in NCAA history to reach the milestone and only the ninth to do so in just three seasons. En route to leading the Gophers to a perfect 41-0-0 mark this past season, Kessel was named a first-team All-American, U.S. College Hockey Online Co-Player of the Year and Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Player of the Year, finished the season with +71 plus-minus ratio. She was named to the WCHA All-Academic Team and was an Academic All-Big Ten performer.
Drouin and Kessel were among a field of heralded nominees for the annual conference honors that included nine individual national champions, four team national champions and 22 All-America honorees. On the men’s side, Drouin was among a group of six nominees to take home individual national championships, including Iowa wrestler Derek St. John, Michigan swimmer Connor Jaeger, Minnesota wrestler Tony Nelson, Ohio State tennis player Blaz Rola and Penn State wrestler Ed Ruth, with Jaeger and Ruth each leading his respective squad to a national team title. On the women’s side, Kessel was among a group of five nominees to win an individual or team national title. Individual winners included sprinter Ashley Spencer of Illinois, gymnast Joanna Sampson of Michigan and diver Casey Matthews of Purdue, while Kessel and Ohio State rowing’s Claire-Louise Bode led their teams to NCAA Championships.
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 conference first honored a Female Athlete of the Year in 1983, with Michigan State’s Judi Brown collecting the initial award. The Big Ten Athletes of the Year are selected by a panel of conference media members from nominations submitted by each institution.
The complete list of 2013 Athlete of the Year nominations, as well as the list of all-time winners for each award, can be found below.
2013 BIG TEN ATHLETE OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Nebraska Chad Wright (track & field) Mary Weatherholt (tennis)