2012-13 ISU Athlete of the Year Nominees Announced

Aug 15, 2013

NORMAL, Ill. - The 14 nominees for the annual Jill Hutchison Female Athlete of the Year and the Milt Weisbecker Male Athlete of the Year awards have been announced. Six male and eight female student-athletes are in the running for the awards that honor the best athletic performances of the 2012-13 academic year and will be presented at the annual Walk of Champions Sunday, Aug. 18.

The eight female nominees are Katie Jean (women's golf), Elizabeth Kay (softball), Sami King (gymnastics), Ashley Rosch (volleyball), Jamie Russell (women's basketball), Brittany Smith (women's track & field), Rachel Tejada (soccer) and Wenting Zhang (Diving). The six male nominees are Jackie Carmichael (men's basketball), Tim Glover (men's track & field), Wils Hawn (men's golf), Alexander Pelaez (men's tennis), Chris Razo (baseball) and Colton Underwood (football).

The female athlete of the year award is named in honor of Hutchison, who retired from coaching women's basketball in 1999 after racking up 461 wins in 28 seasons at Illinois State. Now a radio and television ¬analyst for Redbird broadcasts, Hutchison was a pioneer and advocate for women in athletics throughout her coaching career. A banner in her honor hangs from the Redbird Arena rafters, and she was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

As a senior, Jean continued to make a big impact on the women's golf team, as she won the individual title at the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Championship for the second-straight year. With the win, she was also named the MVC Golfer of the Year, to the All-Valley Team and was the recipient of the MVC Elite-18 Award for the third-straight season. Jean finished the season with three top-5 finishes and eight top-10 finishes and was a two-time Valley Golfer of the Week (April 3, 2013 and April 17, 2013). The Rantoul, Ill., native led the Redbirds to a first-place finish in the Valley Championship. It was the third time in Jean's career that she was a part of a Valley Championship team.

 

 

Kay ended her Redbird career as the Valley Player of the Year and a All-MVC First-Team selection. She was also named to the Valley Softball Championship's All-Tournament Team, was the team's Most Valuable Player (MVP) and was a four-time Valley Player of the Week selection. Kay started 48 games as a senior and every game of her career. She led the team with a .428 batting average, 62 hits, 36 runs scored, 44 RBI and a .710 slugging percentage. For her performance at the plate, Kay became the ISU all-time career leader in RBI with 166. Kay was a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Mideast Region First-Team selection, and raked 24th in batting average and 11th in on-base percentage nationally.

King made an impact for the Redbirds early in her career. As a sophomore, she was all-around champion for the Midwest Independent Conference and was the MIC champion on the balance beam. At the NCAA Regionals, King finished in sixth place in the all-around competition and just missed qualifying for the NCAA Nationals by .2 of a point. In nine out of 12 competitions during the 2012-13 season, King placed first on the balance beam and won three all-around competitions.

Rosch didn't have any trouble transitioning from high school to college athletics during the 2012-13 season, as she stepped in and made an immediate impact for the Redbirds. For her performance during the season, Rosch was named the Valley Freshman of the Year and to the All-Valley First Team, which was only the sixth time a freshman was named to the all-conference first team. She ranked first on the team in points (387), kills (336), and kills per set (3.08) and compiled double-digit kills in 20 matches and double-digit digs 17 matches.

Russell, an All-Valley First-Team member, started every game for the Redbirds during the 2012-13 season and was the team's leading scorer with 14.1 points per game. In 35 games, she tallied double-digit performances in 25 games, including nine-straight with a double-digit scoring effort. For her performance on the defensive end, Russell was named to the Valley All-Defensive Team and was named an MVC Player of the Week on Nov. 12, 2012. At the end of the season, Russell was named the team's MVP, the Best Defensive Player and the Best Teammate (Starter). After her senior season, she participated in the 2013 New Orleans Combine in conjunction with the NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four and was selected to be a NetScouts Basketball USA All-Star, where she was named the MVP of the team for her performance throughout the trip. She signed on to play professionally overseas with Kara Trutnov of the ZBL Basketball Club in the Czech Republic on July 15th.

In the 2012-13 season alone, Smith notched 35 top-five finishes, including 22 first-place finishes and was a four-time All-American. She has 10 All-America honors at the NCAA Track and Field Championships, including two runner-up finishes at the 2013 NCAA Championships in the hammer throw and shot put. During her senior campaign, Smith won her first Missouri Valley Conference outdoor title with a throw of 218-10 in the hammer throw. Her performance helped the women's team receive a No. 25 ranking in the national polls. In the indoor season, Smith won the conference title in the shot put with a throw of 56-9.25 and was in the top-three collegiate throws in the hammer throw, shot put and weight throw. Between the 2012-13 indoor and outdoor season, Smith was named the Valley's Field Athlete of the Week five times. She holds every Illinois State throwing record, expect for the discus throw, where she ranks No. 2.

After a stellar freshman year, Tejada continued to lead the Redbirds during the 2012 season. She was the Valley Player of Year for the second-straight season, as well as for the Chicagoland Soccer News. Tejada was an All-Valley First-Team selection for the second-straight season and was the MVC Tournament MVP. The Troy, Ill., native led the conference with 18 goals, 10 assists, 36 points, 80 shots and four game-winning goals, and earned four MVC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Tejada ranked in the top-seven nationally in goals (seventh), goals per game (sixth), points (sixth) and points per game (fifth). After two seasons with the Redbirds, she moved into second place on the program's all-time lists for points (97), goals (39) and assists (19).

Zhang, in her second season with the Redbirds, was named the Valley Diver of the Year for the second-straight season. Throughout the season, Zhang broke and re-broke the school record on the 1-meter and 3-meter board multiple times. She set the 3-meter diving record with a score of 351.15 at the UIC Diving Invitational and set the 1-meter diving record at the conference championships with a score of 324.75. Zhang set the Valley record in the 1-meter dive and was named an eight-time MVC Diver of the Week. The junior from China ended her season at the NCAA Zone Diving Regionals, where she qualified for the regionals during every competition of the 2012-13 season.

The male athlete of the year award ¬is named for Weisbecker, the former athletics director who led Illinois State through times of change from 1966 to 1974. As athletics director, he successfully led the university's athletic program from the NCAA College Division into Division I status. Additionally, Weisbecker had an outstanding record in seven seasons as the Redbird's head golf coach, including a fourth-place NCAA College Divi¬sion finish in 1969.

Carmichael was the face of Redbird basketball during his senior campaign, as the forward made a name for himself in the program and the nation. Carmichael posted 15 double-doubles and netted double figures in 29 games during the season. He is one of 12 players in Valley history with 1,500-career points and 900-career rebounds. The Manhattan, Kan., native owned a Valley-best 9.3 rebounding average, which ranked 34th in the country. At the end of his career, he ranks eighth in scoring with 1,580 points and is third on the career-rebounding list (942) and the career double-doubles list (35). The Valley First-Team honoree and All-Defensive Team member is ISU's career-blocked shot leader with 200 total blocks, 40 more than the next Redbird. Carmichael was a three-time Valley Player of the Week in 2012-13, was featured in Sports Illustrated as a Future Game Changer and was named a Lou Henson All-American.

Hawn led the men's golf team throughout the 2012-13 season, as he had a low-stroke average of 74.57 and led the team. The low-stroke average was the ninth best score in the Valley. For his performances, he was named to the all-conference team and was named the Valley Golfer of the Week. Hawn had three top-10 finishes during his sophomore season and competed in every event for the Redbirds.

Glover came into the national spotlight during his sophomore season, launched even further on the scene as a junior, and was a well-known name by his senior season. Glover finished as the runner up in the javelin throw at the NCAA Track and Field Championships with a throw of 247-06 in stiff and swirling winds. Glover ended his Redbird career with two NCAA Division I National Titles in the javelin and was a three-time All-American. During his senior campaign, Glover was named the Valley's Field Athlete of the Week three times, including two-consecutive weeks. Those accolades added to his fourth-straight Missouri Valley Conference title, as well as his third-straight Valley Most Outstanding Field Athlete award.

Pelaez ended his senior season as a Valley individual champion at the No. 1 doubles and was an All-Valley selection. He ranked as high as No. 58 nationally in doubles play and became ISU's all-time career wins leader in both singles and doubles. Pelaez led the Redbirds with 25 total singles wins and a 13-7 singles records. In the regional rankings, he ranked as high as No. 5 in doubles and top-20 in singles for the Midwest region.

Razo ended his Redbird career with a memorable and record-setting season. For his stellar performances on the mound, he was named the Valley Pitcher of the Year, which was the first time in ISU history that a Redbirds has won the award. He was an All-Valley First-Team selection and a Louisville Slugger Third Team All-American. Razo ended the season with a record of 8-2 and a team-best earned-run average of 1.71 in 89.1 innings pitched. He recorded 20 appearances, had 11 starts and five complete games. Razo allowed 17 earned runs and walked 32 batters.

Underwood racked up several awards after the end of his junior season, as the Washington, Ill., native was named an All-American selection by five organizations and finished sixth overall in the voting for the 2012 Buck Buchanan Award, which is awarded to the best defensive player in the FCS by The Sports Network. He played in all 13 games at defensive end with 12 starts and led the MVFC in sacks (10.5) and tackles-for-loss (19.5). Underwood ranked second on the team with 95 total tackles and recorded at least one sack in eight games and tallied six multiple tackle-for-loss performances. The All-MVFC selection finished the season tied for No. 12 in the FCS in tackles-for-loss per game and No. 13 in the country in sacks per game. For his performance during the season, he was the runner-up for the MVFC Defensive Player of the Year Award.

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