June 8, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Six Michigan State University student-athletes have been recognized for excellence both on the playing field and in the classroom as they have earned the school's highest athletic awards for 2010-11.
The awards include the George Alderton Male and Female Athletes of the Year, the Big Ten Conference Medals of Honor, the Chester Brewer Leadership Award and Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award. A panel of administrators and head coaches selected the winners.
For the second straight year, senior linebacker Greg Jones (Cincinnati, Ohio) was named the George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year, while senior runner Emily MacLeod (Loveland, Ohio) and sophomore women's golfer Caroline Powers (Bowling Green, Ohio) earned George Alderton Female Co-Athlete of the Year honors. It marks the second time that two female athletes have won the Alderton in the same year (2003-Michelle Carson and Jamie Krzyminski).
Jones is the first back-to-back Alderton male winner since Jeff Lerg (2007-08) and just the fourth since the inception of the award in 1982 (Lerg, Mateen Cleaves and Ron Scott). After leading the team in tackles for the fourth consecutive year in 2010 with 106, Jones became only the fourth two-time consensus first-team All-American in program history. Elected a captain for the second straight year, his leadership helped propel MSU to its first Big Ten title since 1990. Jones, a three-time All-Big Ten first-team honoree, closed out his career third all-time at Michigan State in tackles with 465.
A two-time All-American, MacLeod has earned Great Lakes Region Athlete of the Year in each of the past two cross country seasons while leading the team in each race. MacLeod adds to her resume five All-Big Ten and two All-Region honors, as well as four USTFCCCA All-Academic and eight Academic All-Big Ten selections.
Powers set an MSU record with her 73.53 scoring average in 2010-11 and her sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships was the highest in school history. A first-team All-Big Ten and National Golf Coaches Association honorable mention All-America selection, Powers finished in the Top 10 at seven tournaments, including her first collegiate tournament victory at the Lady Buckeye Invitational.
Center fielder and Academic All-American Brandon Eckerle (Durand, Mich.) received the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor along with women's golfer Aimee Neff (Carmel, Ind.). The Medal of Honor is presented to a male and female senior student-athlete at each conference institution for outstanding athletic and academic achievement.
Eckerle was also named the recipient of the Chester Brewer Leadership Award, while volleyball junior Jenilee Rathje (Mount Pleasant, Mich.) received the Dr. James Feurig Service and Achievement Award.
In addition, Eckerle and senior gymnast Kathryn Mahoney (Western Springs, Ill.) were named the recipients of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award for Michigan State. One member of each varsity sports team on every campus was chosen by the institution as a Sportsmanship Award honoree and from each university's list, two outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners were then selected.
AWARD - WINNER
George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year - Greg Jones (Football)
George Alderton Female Co-Athletes of the Year - Emily MacLeod (Cross Country/Track) and Caroline Powers (Golf)
Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor (Male) - Brandon Eckerle (Baseball)
Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor (Female) - Aimee Neff (Golf)
Chester Brewer Leadership Award - Brandon Eckerle (Baseball)
Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award - Jenilee Rathje (Volleyball)
Big Ten Sportsmanship Award (Male) - Brandon Eckerle (Baseball)
Big Ten Sportsmanship Award (Female) - Kathryn Mahoney (Gymnastics)
GEORGE ALDERTON MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR(Presented to top male athlete of 2010-11)
WINNER: Greg Jones (Football)
In a storied program rich with tradition, Greg Jones left his mark as one of the top football players in Michigan State history.
He became the first Spartan to earn consensus All-America honors in back-to-back seasons since defensive end Charles "Bubba" Smith and roverback George Webster in 1965-66, and also became MSU's ninth unanimous All-America selection and the first since wide receiver Charles Rogers in 2002.
The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Jones earned 2010 First-Team All-America honors from The Associated Press, Sporting News, Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Walter Camp Football Foundation, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), SI.com, CBSSports.com, Scout.com and Phil Steele. He was the only repeat selection from last year's AP All-America First Team. Jones became only the second Spartan player ever to earn AP First-Team All-America honors in back-to-back seasons, joining Webster (1965-66). He also became MSU's seventh three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection and the first since punter Brandon Fields (2003, 2004 and 2006).
Jones led the Spartans in tackles (106), tackles for loss (10 for 20 yards), forced fumbles (3), quarterback hurries (6) and production points (219). He became the first Spartan to reach the 100-tackle milestone in three straight seasons since Percy Snow (1987-89). Jones also ranked among the Big Ten leaders in forced fumbles (tied for second) and tackles (seventh at 8.2 per game). He anchored a Spartan defensive unit that ranked fifth in the Big Ten and No. 37 in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing defense, allowing 133.7 yards per game.
A model of consistency, Jones led the team in tackles in 31 of the last 39 games and became only the second player in MSU history to lead the Spartans in tackles for four-straight seasons (linebacker Dan Bass, 1976-79).
"Last year, it was humbling to win the George Alderton Award, especially when you consider (wrestler) Franklin Gomez was also in the running," Jones said. "Now to have won it again simply blows my mind. (First baseman) Jeff Holm had a remarkable season, earning All-Big Ten and All-America honors en route to helping the baseball team win its first conference title since 1979. We had very similar years, so I congratulate him because he's certainly worthy of this honor as well.
"I'm truly honored and excited to once again be the recipient. I looked up to Mateen Cleaves as a kid and to know that he also won this prestigious award twice is amazing.
"I wouldn't trade my last four years at Michigan State for anything. I made a commitment to the football program when I decided to return for my senior year, but I shared that same commitment with all of my teammates and it was that mindset that helped us win a Big Ten Championship. I was fortunate to be one of the leaders on last year's team, and it meant the world to me to hold that position of leadership. We had a shared goal and that dream came true, winning a Big Ten title. I'm so thankful to all of my teammates and coaches at Michigan State; it's been an incredible journey."
Jones, who posted a season-high 14 stops in a 26-6 Homecoming victory over Illinois, was named National Defensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation as well as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He also was credited with a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry.
The second-year captain recorded eight tackles, including a season-best three for losses, in No. 24 MSU's 34-24 victory over No. 11 Wisconsin. The Spartan defense held Wisconsin to 165 rushing yards - nearly 93 yards below its season average. The Badgers entered the game ranked second in the Big Ten and No. 10 in the NCAA FBS in rushing, averaging 257.5 yards per game.
Jones, who recorded two interceptions, four tackles and forced a fumble in MSU's 45-7 victory over Northern Colorado, was named Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week. He recorded the first two interceptions of his career against the Bears, with both leading to MSU scores.
The Cincinnati, Ohio, native started 46 of 52 career games, including 40 consecutive starting assignments (tied for team high with linebacker Eric Gordon). He made 465 career tackles, including 46.5 for losses (160 yards) and 16.5 sacks (93 yards). Jones ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in tackles for loss (second), total tackles (third) and sacks (sixth).
"Congratulations to Greg Jones for being recognized as Michigan State's top male athlete for the second year in a row," MSU head football coach Mark Dantonio said. "He is in rare company, becoming only the fourth male athlete in MSU history to win the award in back-to-back years.
"Greg closed out his collegiate career as one of the most decorated defensive players in Spartan history and that speaks volumes. He made a statement and validated our football program when he elected to pass on the NFL Draft and return to Michigan State for his senior year. Greg was driven to become a Big Ten Champion. He believed in this program, and over the last four years has helped shape and change the culture here. We're proud of all of his individual accomplishments. He is on track to graduate and will continue to be a great ambassador for our football program."
PAST WINNERS - ALDERTON MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:
2010-Greg Jones (football); 2009-Franklin Gomez (wrestling); 2008-Jeff Lerg (hockey); 2007-Jeff Lerg (hockey); 2006-Brad Gebauer (track and field); 2005-Nick Simmons (wrestling); 2004-Jeff Smoker (football); 2003-Charles Rogers (football); 2002-Paul Terek (track and field); 2001-Ryan Miller (hockey); 2000-Mateen Cleaves (basketball); 1999-Mateen Cleaves (basketball) and Mike York (hockey); 1998-Chad Alban (hockey); 1997-Reid Friedrichs (soccer); 1996-David Morgan (wrestling); 1995-Shawn Respert (basketball); 1994-Emilio Collins (wrestling); 1993-Bryan Smolinski (hockey); 1992-Anthony Hamm (cross country/track and field); 1991-Steve Smith (basketball); 1990-Kip Miller (hockey) and Percy Snow (football); 1989-Bobby Reynolds (hockey); 1988-Todd Krumm (football/baseball); 1987-Don McSween (hockey); 1986-Mike Donnelly (hockey), Lorenzo White (football), Scott Skiles (basketball); 1985-Sam Vincent (basketball); 1984-Carl Banks (football); 1983-Ron Scott (hockey); 1982-Ron Scott (hockey).
GEORGE ALDERTON FEMALE CO-ATHLETES OF THE YEAR(Presented to top female athlete of 2010-11)
CO-WINNER: Emily MacLeod (Cross Country/Track)
Emily MacLeod has turned in arguably one of the greatest seasons in recent Michigan State history on the cross country course and on the track during both the indoor and outdoor seasons.
MacLeod's senior season started off with a bang during the fall as she concluded the cross country season with her second-straight win at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional, earning herself U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Great Lakes Athlete of the Year honors following both the 2009 and 2010 races, becoming the first Spartan to achieve the feat in back-to-back seasons.
"This is truly a great honor," said MacLeod on being named the George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year. "Michigan State has produced amazing female athletes as one of the premier Big Ten Universities. To be listed with the likes of Nicole Bush, Jamie Krzyminski and Michelle cARSON is an absolute honor to be bestowed. I would like to thank Coach (Walt) Drenth and the entire coaching staff for everything they have helped me to achieve over the past five years here at MSU."
"Emily MacLeod may be one of the best runners to ever go through the MSU program," MSU director of track & field/cross country Walt Drenth said. "When looking at past distance runners, she has been far and away one of the best in terms of success on the cross country course and track. This year alone, Emily has posted four Big Ten titles while repeating as both the Great Lakes Region winner and Great Lakes Athlete of the Year, something that has never been done before in school history. Her four titles also ties for the second-most by a Spartan in a single season on the track and cross country course."
MacLeod's cross country season opened strong as she turned in her second-straight win at the Spartan Invitational, her first race of the season. MacLeod was MSU's top runner at all six of her competitions and placed in the top-nine in five of six races. MacLeod wrapped-up the cross country schedule with an USTFCCCA All-America nod after she finished 37th at the 2010 NCAA Cross Country Championships with a time of 20:48.1. MacLeod becomes the first member of the track & field and cross country programs to earn the George Alderton Award since Nicole Bush did so in 2009. MacLeod is also the fifth in the last eight years to earn the award as a member of the track & field or cross country teams.
At the conference level, MacLeod was stellar on the cross country course as she earned All-Big Ten honors for the second-straight year, and also became the first Big Ten Cross Country Athlete of the Year since 2008 en route to the team's first conference title since 2003 with her individual crown.
The Loveland, Ohio, native had her strong cross country season translate into a successful indoor season which saw her capture both the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter indoor conference crowns. After narrowly missing an appearance at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships, MacLeod rebounded during the outdoor season to complete the sweep of the 5,000-meter events with a win at the outdoor conference championships. At the NCAA East Region Preliminaries last weekend, MacLeod qualified for her second-straight NCAA Championships with her third-place overall finish in the 5,000 meters with a career-best time of 15:57.57.
MacLeod will conclude her collegiate career on Friday, June 10 when she competes in the 5,000-meter run at the 2011 NCAA Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, at 9:10 p.m. ET.
Her senior season alone, MacLeod has won four Big Ten titles, has been a three-time All-Big Ten selection, was named the Big Ten Cross Country Athlete of the Year as well as the Great Lakes Region Athlete of the Year, and has earned All-America and All-Region honors.
MacLeod has not only been a model Spartan competitively, but also in the classroom. MacLeod is a four-time USTCCCA All-Academic selection as well as an eight-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
MacLeod graduated in May with a degree in environmental biology/zoology.
GEORGE ALDERTON FEMALE CO-ATHLETES OF THE YEAR(Presented to top female athlete of 2010-11)
CO-WINNER: Caroline Powers (Golf)
In just her second season in East Lansing, Caroline Powers burst onto the national scene as one of the elite players in the country while establishing a new standard of excellence for the Michigan State women's golf program.
The sophomore from Bowling Green, Ohio, set a school record with her 73.53 scoring average and her sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships was the best-ever showing by a Spartan.
"With all of the other great athletes at Michigan State, to win this award is quite an honor," said Powers. "I've seen Sara Brown's award (who won in 2007 and 2008) in our Rearick Center, but this never crossed my mind. I was happy the way the season finished for me at the NCAA Championships, and I thought that was the end of the year for me; I was already thinking about next year. I'm pleasantly surprised and grateful to be mentioned in that same category.
"Going into each of the tournaments in the spring, I just felt really good about my game. I think winning the Lady Buckeye really started the momentum for me. At nationals, at first I was sad because I wanted my teammates to be there as well, but then when I got down there I said, `OK, let's do this, I want to make the girls proud.' I just wanted to be happy with every hole and every decision. I think that happened and I was definitely pleased with my performance.
"I have two years left at Michigan State, so I can't get comfortable with where I'm at. I have to go into next fall and carry this confidence into next year."
"Caroline Powers now owns a new title as the finest golfer to ever play for the Spartans," women's golf coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll said. "After completing her sophomore season, Caroline has not only proved that she is a force in the Big Ten Conference, but more importantly, nationally. She is physically strong, mentally tough and driven to improve each day."
Powers finished in the Top 10 at seven tournaments, including the last four in a row, and won her first collegiate tournament at the Lady Buckeye Invitational on April 17. In addition, she led the team in scoring in nine of the team's 11 events.
Powers got off to a fast start in the fall by tying for third at the Mary Fossum Invitational on Sept. 26. She followed that effort with an impressive three-round total of 211 at the Tar Heel Invitational Oct. 10, which marked the second-lowest 54-hole score in MSU history.
In the spring, Powers turned it on down the stretch. After being named the Big Ten Golfer of the Week for winning the Lady Buckeye Invitational, she was clutch in postseason play, placing fourth at the Big Ten Championships and sixth at both the NCAA East Regional and NCAA Championships. She helped lead the Spartans to their ninth Big Ten title in school history and was named to the All-Championships Team.
A first-team All-Big Ten selection, Powers qualified individually for the NCAA Championships by shooting a 217 in the NCAA East Regional in Daytona Beach, Fla., the lowest score ever by a Spartan in regional play. Her second-round score of 69 was also the best single-round in school history at the NCAA Regionals.
Powers was at her best on the sport's biggest stage at the NCAA Championships, setting MSU records for highest finish (tied for sixth), lowest 72-hole (288), and best single-round (69) at nationals.
For her record-breaking season, Powers garnered NGCA (National Golf Coaches Association) All-Region and honorable mention All-America accolades. She finished No. 22 in the final Golfweek/Sagarin individual rankings.
With a minimum of 60 rounds played, Powers is currently second in MSU history with her 74.71 career average through two seasons and has nine career top-10 finishes. She compiled a 76.03 average in 11 tournaments as a true freshman, which is the best freshman average in school history.
Powers, an education major, was named to the NGCA All-Scholar Team last year and was an Academic All-Big Ten selection in 2011.
PAST WINNERS - ALDERTON FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR:
2010-Floor Rijpma (field hockey); 2009-Nicole Bush (cross country/track & field); 2008-Sara Brown (golf); 2007-Sara Brown (golf); 2006-Liz Shimek (basketball); 2005-Kristin Haynie (basketball); 2004-Jamie Krzyminski (cross country/track & field); 2003-Michelle Carson (cross country) and Jamie Krzyminski (cross country/track & field); 2002-Emily Bastel (golf); 2001-Summer Mitchell (swimming & diving); 2000-Emily Bastel (golf); 1999-Carrie Carpenter (softball); 1998-Jill Lusher (field hockey); 1997-Sevatheda Fynes (track & field); 1996-Val Sterk (volleyball); 1995-Karen Winslow (soccer); 1994-Susan Francis (track & field); 1993-Jodi Blotcher (gymnastics); 1992-Misty Allison (cross country/track & field); 1991-Julie Farrell-Ovenhouse (swimming & diving); 1990-Julie Farrell (swimming & diving); 1989-Julie Farrell (swimming & diving); 1988-Michelle Ingalls (gymnastics); 1987-Odessa Smalls (track & field); 1986-Mary Schoenle (swimming & diving); 1985-Kelly Becker (volleyball); 1984-Deanne Moore (softball); 1983-Judi Brown (track & field); 1982-Molly Brennan (track & field).
BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR(Presented to a male and female student-athlete at each conference institution for outstanding athletic and academic achievement)
MALE WINNER: Brandon Eckerle (Baseball)
CHESTER BREWER LEADERSHIP AWARD(Presented to a graduating senior in his or her last year of eligibility for distinguished performance in athletics and scholarship and for possessing a high degree of leadership qualities and skill.)
WINNER: Brandon Eckerle (Baseball)
After posting one of the best seasons in the 127-year history of Spartan baseball, senior center fielder Brandon Eckerle becomes just the second athlete at Michigan State to earn the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor and the Chester Brewer Leadership Award in the same year, joining Everett Grandelius (1951).
A unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection, Eckerle won the conference batting crown with his .379 average and set an MSU single-season record with 96 hits in 2011. He is just the second Spartan to win a Big Ten batting title for overall games. Also a dynamic defensive player, Eckerle made countless highlight catches in center field and was voted by his teammates as the Defensive Player of the Year. His outstanding season at the plate and in the field helped lead the Spartans to their fourth Big Ten title and first since 1979.
Eckerle closes his career as the all-time hits leader in program history with 261. The Durand, Mich., native, who started every game in center field the past three seasons (164 consecutive starts), also ranks second at MSU in runs scored with 158.
Off the field, Eckerle was just as successful, as he was named a first-team Academic All-American for his 3.98 GPA in general business administration/pre-law. Eckerle is just the third player in program history to earn Academic All-America honors twice in his career, as he was a third-team selection in 2010. He graduated in May 2011 and plans on attending law school next year.
"There's a lot of great kids and great athletes at Michigan State - to be recognized for these prestigious awards is quite an honor," said Eckerle. "I'm very thankful. It's nice to see all of the hard work and time and energy that I've put into my career has paid off.
"From an early age, my parents stressed the important of academics and grades. I was fortunate to play baseball at Michigan State, but I knew the main reason I was going to college was to get a degree and a good education. I wanted to make sure I took full advantage of all the resources offered at the Clara Bell Smith Center and through SASS (Student-Athlete Support Services).
"It also means a lot to named the Chester Brewer Leadership Award winner. It shows that I've come a long way from my freshman year. I try to lead by example and be a good model for my teammates with my work ethic, especially for some of the younger players. There are many outstanding leaders at Michigan State, so this is pretty special.
"Not just me, but all of my teammates have put so much time in over the past four years. To be able to win the Big Ten Championship was very rewarding and meant a lot to us."
"Brandon Eckerle is the hardest worker we have both on and off the field," Spartan baseball coach Jake Boss said. "He leads by example and is very deserving of all his successes. Brandon is extremely active in the community as well as through Student-Athlete Support Services. He led the Big Ten in hitting and became the school's all-time hits leader. Brandon is simply the best center fielder I have ever coached. He's the All-America kid. I couldn't be more proud to have coached him.
"Brandon has been a great leader and role model for not only his own teammates, but for all student-athletes as well as kids in the community. He is the epitome of the well-rounded student-athlete. He has been involved in Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the PACT (Putting Athletes and Communities Together) Program and much more. He is always willing to help and leads by example. His academic record speaks for itself and you can read all of his stats and awards for baseball, but it is the intangible qualities Brandon has that set him apart from the rest."
Highly respected by his teammates, Eckerle was named team captain for the 2011 season. A three-year member of the Michigan State Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, he was MSU's recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award in 2011.
In May, Eckerle was named the 2011 Michigan Male College Athlete of the Year by the Detroit Athletic Club, which is presented annually to a student-athlete that performs at a high level athletically and academically, makes an impact in his/her community, and demonstrates leadership and sportsmanlike behavior.
Eckerle is also one of the most involved Michigan State student-athletes in the community. He has participated in several community-outreach activities, including a student-athlete food drive, Special Olympics, Fall into Fitness, Chuck A Puck, which is a fundraiser for Children's Cancer, and the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's Give Thanks Walk. He has also been baseball's three-year team leader for Teams for Toys, in which the team adopts a family for the holidays.
Eckerle's achievements have been recognized nationally, as he was listed as one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
PAST WINNERS - BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR MALE WINNERS:
2010-Blair White (football); 2009-Doug DeMartin (soccer); 2008-Drew Neitzel (basketball); 2007-Drew Stanton (football); 2006-Drew Stanton (football); 2005-Chris Hill (basketball); 2004-Steve Manz (track and field); 2003-Tyler Robinson (soccer); 2002-Josh Thornhill (football); 2001-Shaun Mason (football); 2000-Shawn Horcoff (hockey); 1999-Steve Schell (cross country/track & field); 1998-Tyler Harlton (hockey); 1997-Tyler Harlton (hockey); 1996-Brian Picklo (wrestling); 1995-Emilio Collins (wrestling); 1994-Steve Wasylk (football); 1993-Dave Smith (cross country/track & field); 1992-Stuart Hirschman (baseball); 1991-Walt Bartels (hockey); 1990-Walt Bartels (hockey); 1989-Danton Cole (hockey); 1988-Michael Davidson (baseball); 1987-Dean Altobelli (football); 1986-Don McSween (hockey); 1985-Carlton Evans (lacrosse); 1984-Kelly Miller (hockey); 1983-Michael Brown (swimming & diving); 1982-Morten Andersen (football); 1981-Jay Vincent (basketball); 1980-Mark Brammer (football); 1979-Gregory Kelser (basketball); 1978-Larry Bethea (football); 1977-Tyrone Willingham (football/baseball); 1976-Pat Milkovich (wrestling); 1975-Dennis Olmstead (hockey); 1974-Robert Cassleman (track); 1973-Kenneth Popejoy (track); 1972-Herb Washington (track); 1971-Thomas Muir (wrestling); 1970-Richard Saul (football); 1969-Allen Brenner (football); 1968-Dale Anderson (wrestling); 1967-Eugene Washington (football, track); 1966-Steve Juday (football); 1965-David Price (gymnastics); 1964-George (Pete) Gent (basketball); 1963-Richard Schloemer (fencing); 1962-Edward Ryan (football); 1961-William Reynolds (track/cross country); 1960-Stan Tarshis (gymnastics); 1959-Robert Anderegg (basketball); 1958-Robert Jasson (hockey); 1957-Selwyn Jones (track); 1956-Carl Nystrom (football); 1955-Kevan Gosper (track); 1954-Robert Hoke (wrestling); 1953-John Wilson (football); 1952-Orris Bender (wrestling); 1951-Everett Grandelius (football).
PAST WINNERS - CHESTER BREWER LEADERSHIP AWARD:
2010-Kelly Moffitt (gymnastics); 2009-Jeff Lerg (hockey); 2008-Ryan Brehm (golf); 2007-Taren James (track and field); 2006-R.J. Boudro (wrestling); 2005-Kristin Haynie (basketball); 2004-Allison Fouch (golf); 2003-Sandy Lewis (softball); 2002-Adam Hall (hockey); 2001-Ann Cieszkowski (soccer); 2000-Leah Nilsson (cross country/track & field); 1999-Melissa Pryor (field hockey); 1998-Kyle Baker (cross country); 1997-Dana Cooke (volleyball) and Tamika Matlock (basketball); 1996-Courtney DeBolt (volleyball); 1995-Eric Snow (basketball); 1994-Rob Fredrickson (football); 1993-Steve Johnson (baseball); 1992-Mike Gilmore (hockey); 1991-Becky Belanger (volleyball) and Eileen Shea (basketball); 1990-Chris Willertz (football); 1989-Sheila Ovenhouse (softball); 1988-Pat Shurmur (football); 1987-Shane Bullough (football); 1986-Anthony Bell (football); 1985-Kelly Miller (hockey); 1984-Michael Brown (swimming & diving); 1983-Eliot Tabron (track & field); 1982-Shawn White (wrestling); 1981-Ray Stachowicz (football); 1980-Terry Donnelly (basketball); 1979-Rodger Bastien (baseball); 1978-Jeff Rudolph (gymnastics); 1977-Gary Domagalski (golf); 1976-Thomas Ross (hockey); 1975-No Award Presented; 1974-Val Washington (lacrosse); 1973-Jerry Sackmann (baseball); 1972-Greg Johnson (wrestling); 1971-Kim Hartman (cross country/track); 1970-Ronald Saul (football); 1969-Toby Towson (gymnastics); 1968-John Bailey (basketball/golf); 1967-Gary Dilley (swimming); 1966-Payton Fuller (soccer), James Curzi (gymnastics); 1965-Douglas Roberts (hockey/football); 1964-Sherman Lewis (track/football); 1963-George Azar (football/baseball); 1962-Stephen Johnson (gymnastics); 1961-William Steuart (swimming); 1960-Crawford "Forddy" Kennedy (cross country/track); 1959-Sam Williams (football); 1958-Dave Lean (track/cross country); 1957-Pat Wilson (football/basketball); 1956-Earl Morrall (football/baseball); 1955-John Matsock (football/baseball); 1954-Tom Yewcic (football/baseball); 1953-Bert McLachlan (swimming); 1952-Robert Carey (football/track/basketball); 1951-Everett Grandelius (football).
BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR
(Presented to a male and female student-athlete at each conference institution for outstanding athletic and academic achievement)
FEMALE WINNER: Aimee Neff (Golf)
Aimee Neff leaves Michigan State not only as one of the most accomplished players in school history, but also as a champion. She helped lead the Spartans to their ninth Big Ten title this spring, which was a fitting end to an impressive career.
Neff is one of only three players at MSU to earn All-Big Ten honors four times. She was a first-team all-conference selection this year for the first time in her career after earning second-team honors in 2008, 2009 and 2010. For players who have completed their eligibility, Neff ranks fourth in the school record books with her 76.10 scoring average, and she recorded 13 Top-10 finishes. In addition, her round of 68 in the 2009 Lady Northern Invitational is tied for the best single-round in Spartan history.
Her success wasn't limited to the golf course, however, as she graduated with a 3.66 GPA in Communication. She was named to the NGCA All-Scholar Team and Academic All-Big Ten Team in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Neff was also a fixture in the community, helping out at several events sponsored by SASS (Student-Athlete Support Services), including Team for Toys, the Student-Athlete Food Drive, Flip for a Cure, Wellness Night, the Pen Pal program, Chuck a Puck, and the Teddy Bear Toss.
Neff qualified for the LPGA Futures Tour in November 2010 and is currently in her first year on tour.
This marks the third time a women's golfer has earned the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor (Lisa Marino, 1987; Lisa Speaker, 1982).
"This is a huge honor because of the caliber of school that Michigan State is, especially with the number of great student-athletes that MSU produces," said Neff. "I'm very happy to be a part of the Spartan community and always felt accepted and encouraged to do well. I definitely think Michigan State was the place where I grew up a lot - as a golfer for sure, but even more so as a person.
"Winning the Big Ten Championship was the brightest spot on my career at Michigan State. There's been so many great golfers that have come through this program, to leave your mark at MSU and to know the fact that you were a part of a Big Ten Championship is a huge deal. I was definitely privileged to be a part of that special team."
"Since the day Aimee Neff stepped foot in East Lansing, she has been a model student-athlete in every way, shape and form," women's golf coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll said. "Aimee excelled in every arena she entered. She was an amazing athlete, playing in every event for four years while compiling the fourth-lowest scoring average in team history. Her academic record is wonderful, and she is very involved in our community and also with our team. She was the `go-to' person; the player that everyone trusted, that everyone liked and respected because of the way she conducted her life. In every facet, Aimee was diligent, hard working, trustworthy, a leader, dedicated, dependable and a team player. She bleeds Green and White and will always be a wonderful ambassador for our program and Athletics Department."
PAST WINNERS - BIG TEN CONFERENCE MEDAL OF HONOR FEMALE WINNERS:
2010-Allyssa DeHaan (basketball); 2009-Sara Schmidt (rowing); 2008-Kate Burdick (rowing); 2007-Kristen Coleman (gymnastics); 2006-Liz Shimek (basketball); 2005-Veerle Goudswaard (field hockey); 2004-Michelle Carson (cross country/track & field); 2003-Stephanie Anisko (swimming & diving); 2002-Carly Weiden (swimming & diving) and Krista Buzzell (crew); 2001-Carly Weiden (swimming & diving); 2000-Carly Weiden (swimming & diving); 1999-Carrie Carpenter (softball); 1998-Melissa Pryor (field hockey); 1997-Val Sterk (volleyball); 1996-Patti Raduenz (softball); 1995-Laura Bell (cross country/track & field); 1994-Laura Bell (cross country/track & field); 1993-Ruth Aguayo (gymnastics); 1992-Misty Allison (cross country/track & field); 1991-Emily Coatney (soccer); 1990-Eileen Shea (basketball); 1989-Mary Schoenle (swimming & diving); 1988-Kim Hartwick (gymnastics); 1987-Lisa Marino (golf); 1986-Julie Polakowski (basketball); 1985-Kelly Belanger (basketball); 1984-Anne Pewe (cross country/track & field); 1983-Karen Wells (basketball); 1982-Lisa Speaker (golf).
DR. JAMES FEURIG ACHIEVEMENT & SERVICE AWARD(Presented to a male or female graduating senior involved in athletics as a competitor or in a supporting role. The recipient should carry a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 or better, and in addition to athletic and academic success, demonstrate involvement in school/campus and community activities.)
WINNER: Jenilee Rathje (Volleyball)
Jenilee Rathje epitomizes the true meaning of student-athlete. Not only has Rathje been a model citizen on the court as she has been one of the team's offensive threats the past several seasons, but she has also been a role model to individuals in the community with her undying devotion to giving back.
"It's just a great honor," said Rathje on winning the Dr. James Feurig Achievement & Service Award. "When looking at the graduating class of student-athletes, this is something that really means a great deal. To become only the second volleyball athlete (Kelly Collister - 1989) to win the award really means a lot to me, as there has been a long line of phenomenal individuals who have played volleyball at Michigan State over the years."
After suffering a season-ending knee injury during her true-sophomore season, Rathje was forced to watch the remainder of the year from the sidelines. The experience allowed Rathje to realize the true meaning of being a student-athlete at Michigan State, as she was an active member in the community.
Over the past four years, Rathje has been actively involved with several organizations including Spartan Buddies at Sparrow Hospital, the Teams for Toys program and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
A two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Rathje has also excelled in the classroom to earn Big Ten Distinguished Scholar status the past two years. Rathje was a member of the Dean's List for all seven semesters of her undergraduate career, finishing her marketing degree in three and a half years with a grade-point average of 3.84. The Mount Pleasant, Mich., native has since enrolled and is working toward a master's degree in kinesiology with an expected graduation date May of 2012.
On the court, Rathje was one of the team's consistent offensive forces this season as she led the team in hitting percentage with a .340 clip, a mark which ranked 70th nationally and fifth in the conference at the end of the regular season. Her team-high hitting mark ranks seventh all-time by a Spartan for a single season performance. In the last match of the season, Rathje became just the 17th Spartan to amass 1,000 kills when she recorded eight against Northwestern.
"Jenilee Rathje started as a freshman on a team that played in the NCAA Sweet 16," volleyball coach Cathy George said. "Her sophomore campaign was going extremely well before an ACL injury sidelined her for the remainder of the season. Fortunately, she was granted a red-shirt year and through hard work and dedication to her rehab, she not only came back from the injury but became a unanimous All-Big Ten selection in her junior campaign. Jenilee has had to play every attacking position for us and has not only done it willingly, but she has excelled with every new challenge. Her versatility and athleticism set her apart in the Big Ten. Standing only 5-10, she has soared among the giants with her amazing leaping ability.
"Not only does Jenilee stand out on the court but also in the classroom and community. She graduated last December with a 3.84 GPA in marketing. Now, Jenilee is pursuing her master's degree in kinesiology and just recently received a 4.0 on 10 credits. In May, she was awarded the Joey Spano MSU Varsity S Club Fellowship for her excellence in athletics and academics. There's no doubt that she will continue to succeed as she leads our team as a captain as a fifth-year senior next fall."
FEURIG ACHIEVEMENT & SERVICE AWARD PAST WINNERS:
2010-Ross Weaver (football); 2009-Katlyn Roggensack (gymnastics); 2008-Matthew McNichols (swimming & diving); 2007-John Masters (football); 2006-Taren James (track and field); 2005-Erin Carlson (soccer); 2004-Joe Tate (football); 2003-Brad Fast (hockey); 2002-Adam Hall (hockey); 2001-Deb White (field hockey); 2000-Jennifer Hanink (soccer); 1999-Melissa Pryor (field hockey); 1998-Dave Mudge (football); 1997-Stephanie Dueringer (cross country/track & field); 1996-Susan Gibson (soccer); 1995-Angela Howard (gymnastics); 1994-Mill Coleman (football); 1993-Molly West (tennis) and Chris Brown (track & field); 1992-Matt Steigenga (basketball); 1991-Jason Muzzatti (hockey); 1990-Dawna Wilson (gymnastics) and Todd Mercer (swimming & diving); 1989-Kelly Collister (volleyball); 1988-Keiko Timmerman (gymnastics); 1987-Kristen Nelson (swimming & diving) and Barry Fordham (basketball); 1986-John Wojciehowski (football); 1985-Bob Fossum (golf) and Riney Wilke (lacrosse); 1984-Michael Brown (swimming & diving); 1983-Syd Wells (golf); 1982-Molly Brennan (track & field); 1981-Ivan Merritt (gymnastics); 1980-Michael Longaker (basketball); 1979-Kevin Willitts (lacrosse); 1978-Joan Garety (golf); 1977-Herb Lindsay (track/cross country).
BIG TEN SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD(One member of each varsity sports team on every campus was chosen by the institution as a Sportsmanship Award honoree and from each university's list, two outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners were then selected. All of the Sportsmanship Award honorees have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, these student-athletes must be in good academic standing and must have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.)
MALE WINNER: Brandon Eckerle (Baseball)
FEMALE WINNER: Kathryn Mahoney (Gymnastics)
An inspirational figure to not only the MSU gymnastics team but to the gymnastics community, Kathryn Mahoney has faced several obstacles over the past six months.
After suffering a career-ending injury in December, Mahoney was forced to remain on the sidelines to support her team during what was scheduled to be her senior season. The Western Springs, Ill., native, remained in regular contact with the Spartans, communicating via Skype with the gymnasts prior to every meet.
A season highlight for the Spartans occurred during Senior Night when Mahoney watched the first meet since her injury live via Skype. The team wheeled around a laptop to each apparatus, allowing Mahoney to see each event live from her home in suburban Chicago. Following the meet, Mahoney was honored along with the rest of the senior class for their hard work and determination the entire year.
The Spartans dedicated their 2011 season to Mahoney by wearing removable tattoos on their cheeks in the shape of a heart around a $ to signify Mahoney's nickname, Money. The logo was also etched into each of their leotards this season on the left shoulder. Also, the team wore black t-shirts this season that said, "'We stomp our tricks' - KM".
A three-time All-Big Ten honoree, Mahoney has received National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches/Women Scholar All-America honors once in her career.
MSU gave tribute the best way it knew how by tying its best finish at an NCAA Regional event in program history when it finished third overall at the Corvallis Regional on April 2.
A fund has been set up for Kathryn Mahoney at the MSU Federal Credit Union, and donations will be used for any necessities that she needs as she begins the post-operative, recovery stage. Checks should be made payable to "Kathryn Mahoney Fund" and mailed to either the Michigan State Federal Credit Union, 3777 West Rd., East Lansing, MI 48823 or MSU Gymnastics head coach Kathie Klages, 312 Jenison Field House, East Lansing, MI 48824-1025. People can also call (517) 333-2424 and make a deposit via virtual check at no additional cost.