Athlete of the Year Nominees

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With the completion of the 2020-21 season, Illinois has announced its nominees for Dike Eddleman male and female Athlete of the Year. The following is a look at the top achievements from the most accomplished Fighting Illini athletes this year. The history of award winners is available here.


DIKE EDDLEMAN MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR NOMINEES

Lucas Byrd  //  Wrestling

• Earned All-America honors at 133-pounds

• Finished fifth at the NCAA Championships at 133-pounds

• Finished third at the Big Ten Championships at 133-pounds, automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships

• Posted a 17-4 overall record during his first season in the lineup

• Finished with a team-high 29 dual points scored, 11 more than the next highest

• Went 7-1 during the dual season, recording two pins and two major decision victories

• Went 6-2 at the NCAA Championships, losing his second match of the tournament and wrestling back to finish in the top five at 133-pounds

Jon Davis  //  Cross Country

• Earned the 27th All-American Honor in program history with a 39th place finish at the NCAA Championships in a time of 30:46.3

• First Team All-Big Ten with a second-place finish at the B1G Championships, the highest individual finish by an Illini since 1990. The last Illinois runner to place higher than second was in 1976

• Highest scorer to help the Illinois men to a sixth-place finish in the conference

Ayo Dosunmu  //  Basketball

• USA Today National Player of the Year

• Bob Cousy National Point Guard of the Year

• NCAA Consensus First-Team All-American, named to 5-player first team by every single organization and news outlet

• Finalist for every National Player of the Year honor, including Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy and Oscar Robertson Trophy

• Only NCAA player in the last 11 seasons to average at least 20 points (20.1 ppg), six rebounds (6.3 rpg) and five assists (5.3 apg)

• Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player and All-Tournament Team

• U.S. Basketball Writers Association District V Player of the Year and unanimous First-Team All-Big Ten

• Led Illinois to its best season in 16 years, including the Big Ten Tournament title, NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed, and No. 2 national ranking in final AP poll

Michael Feagles  //  Golf

• Second-team All-American (Golfweek)

• Finished No. 7 in the inaugural PGA Tour University rankings

• Set program record for single-season stroke average (70.55)

• Earned the Les Bolstad Award from the Big Ten as the conference’s season stroke average leader at 70.83 through the conclusion of the Big Ten Championship

• Earned All-Big Ten first team and GCAA PING All-Midwest Region for an unprecedented fifth year

• 2021 Haskins Award Watch List

• Career-low score of 200 (-16) to earn his second-career win at the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate (Feb. 14-16). The 54-hole score of 200 also ranks as the second-lowest in program history

• Notched top-five finishes in seven of 10 events, including fifth-place finish at the Big Ten Championship, tie for third at the NCAA Stillwater Regional, and fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championship

• Led Illinois to its sixth-straight Big Ten championship and NCAA Match Play (Quarterfinals)

Kendrick Green  //  Football

• USA TODAY second team All-America

• Illinois’ first offensive player to earn All-America honors since FB Jay Prosch in 2011 and first offensive lineman to earn All-America honors since Jon Asamoah in 2009

• Consensus All-Big Ten first team

• Illinois’ first offensive player to earn First Team All-Big Ten since WR A.J. Jenkins in 2011 and first offensive lineman to earn First Team All-Big Ten since Martin O’Donnell in 2007

• Drafted in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers

• Third-highest rated guard in the country by PFF and No. 17 offensive lineman in the nation during the regular season  (min. 475 snaps)

• Finished the season with 33 straight starts

Aleks Kovacevic  //  Tennis

• 2021 ITA All-American

• Advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles Championships

• First Team All-Big Ten

• Finished 11-1 at No. 1 Singles position this season

• Finished doubles play 9-6 this season

• Ranked No. 26 in the final ITA singles rankings

• Defeated #11 John McNally of Ohio State, defeated #39 Kareem Allaf of Iowa, and defeated #124 Andrew Fenty of Michigan

• Led Illini to Big Ten division title, Big Ten Tournament championship (first since 2015), and NCAA Round of 16

Manning Plater  //  Track & Field

• Earned First Team All-American honors with a third place finish in the NCAA Indoor weight throw

• Second Team All-American with a tenth place finish in the NCAA Outdoor hammer throw

• Broke the program records in both the weight throw (74-7 ft.) and the hammer throw (230-2 ft.)

• Big Ten Weight Throw Champion, earning ten points for the Illini

• Two time B1G Field Athlete of the Week (1/17, 4/14)

• Placed third in the Big Ten in the hammer throw and eighth in the discus at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, earning seven points for the Illini

• Won seven events between the indoor and outdoor seasons

Jackson Raper  //  Baseball

• All-Big Ten First Team

• Midwest All-Region First Team

• Led Illinois this season in home runs (13), RBI (44), doubles (11), total bases (102), slugging percentage (.634), OPS (1.034), walks (29) and runs scored (39)

• Finished fourth in both home runs (13) and slugging percentage (.634) in the Big Ten

• Hit for the cycle on May 2 vs. Michigan when he went 4-for-5 (home run, single, triple, double) with a career-high 7 RBI and two runs scored. He was only the fourth Illinois batter in the last 32 seasons (since 1990) to hit for the cycle and first since 2013

• First Illini to have more than one multi-HR game in a season since National Player of the Year Bren Spillane in 2018

• Had the first inside-the-park home run by an Illini since Trent Hammond on April 18, 2017

• .311/.423/.634, 11 2B, 3B, 13 HR, 44 RBI, 29 BB, 102 TB

Ian Skirkey  //  Gymnastics

• 2021 NCAA Pommel Horse National Champion

• Illinois’ first NCAA champion in Pommel Horse since 2016 (Brandon Ngai)

• 2021 NCAA Pommel Horse All-American

• 2021 Big Ten Pommel Horse Runner-up

• Second-Team All-Big Ten

• Earned four pommel horse event titles during 2020-21 season

DIKE EDDLEMAN FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR NOMINEES

Abby Cabush  //  Swim & Dive

• Broke the school record in the 200 freestyle on Feb. 6, 2021 at Wisconsin (1:47.90)

• Broke her own school record in the 200 freestyle during Big Ten Championships prelims (1:47.80); qualified for the finals in the 200 freestyle and finished in 16th place

• Academic All-Big Ten

• Most Valuable Swimmer Team Award

• Scholar Athlete of the Week Feb. 15-19

Rebecca Craddock  //  Cross Country

• Earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors with a ninth place finish at the B1G Championships

• Illinois’ first finisher at the B1G Championships for the fourth straight year

• Highest scorer to help the Illinois women place third overall in the conference

• Placed 68th overall at the NCAA Championships to lead the Illini to a 21st place finish, their highest since 2009

Olivia Howell  //  Track & Field

• Second Team All-American in the 1500 m, finishing 10th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships

• Big Ten Outdoor Freshman of the Year • B1G Champion in the outdoor 1500 m

• Broke the Illinois program record in the 1500 m with her 4:09.71 in the NCAA Championships preliminary race

• B1G Champion in the indoor mile with the third fastest time in program history 4:40.85

• Set the new program record in the indoor 1000 m with a time of 2:46.52

• Finished in seventh place in the 1500 m at the NCAA West Regionals to qualify for the NCAA Championships

• Recorded the eighth fastest time in the indoor 800 m in program history with a 2:06.88

Tristyn Nowlin  //  Golf

• Best career scoring average in program history (73.40)

• Eighth-best single-season scoring average in program history (73.10) in 2021

• All-Big Ten Second Team, her fifth career All-Big Ten honor

• Tied eighth-best 54-hole score in program history at the Clemson Invitational (-5 (211), March 26-28, 2021)

• First four-time NCAA Championships qualifier in program history

• Big Ten Sportsmanship Award

Kendra Pasquale  //  Soccer

• Third-Team All-Big Ten

• Third-Team All-North Region by United Soccer Coaches

• Named Team and Offensive MVP for 2020 season

• Led team in goals (five) and points (12)

• Started all 12 games at forward for the Illini

• Scored game-winning goal at Northwestern to cap off comeback victory

• Scored a brace in home-opener vs. Iowa

Kailee Powell  //  Softball

• First-Team All-Big Ten

• Big Ten All-Defensive Team

• Started all 44 games for the Illini

• Led the Illini in nearly every major offensive category: OPS (.959), HR (5), SLG (.550), OBP (.409) and runs (29)

• Finished second on the team in batting average at .328

• .996 fielding percentage in 244 chances with just one error

• Tied for the team lead in extra base hits (17)



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