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    NU Honors Senior Student-Athletes at Annual N Club Banquet



    June 19, 2014

    Game Photo

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern University's N Club held its annual Induction and Senior Recognition Banquet Thursday night at the Hilton Orrington Evanston, inducting the senior class into the N Club while honoring several Wildcats for outstanding seasons and careers for NU.

    Following is a list of the awards bestowed at the banquet:

    Northwestern's Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year Nominee
    Jason Tsirtsis • Wrestling • Watch Award Video

    The Big Ten Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards are given annually to the outstanding male and female athletes in the Big Ten.

    In his first year of varsity competition, Tsirtsis posted arguably the greatest freshman season in Wildcats wrestling history. He became the first NU wrestler to win an NCAA Title as a freshman, taking home the 149-lb. championship. Tsirtsis won 32 matches with a .914 winning percentage, the second best percentage in school history behind Olympian Jake Herbert.

    Tsirtsis also won the 149-lb. Big Ten title and was named Intermat and Big Ten Freshman of the Year. His run to the NCAA title propelled NU to the No. 9 finish in the nation, marking the second time in three years Drew Pariano's `Cats finished the year ranked in the Top 10 in the country.

    Fittingly, Tsirtsis claimed his first national title by winning three consecutive matches in sudden death, including scoring a point in the final second of overtime in the semifinals against Missouri's Drake Houdashelt (how-duh-shelt) to reach the championship.

    During the offseason, Tsirtsis continues to wrestle in the freestyle wresting circuit, where he qualified for the World Team Trials.

    Northwestern's Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year Nominee
    Alyssa Leonard • Women's Lacrosse • Watch Award Video

    The Big Ten Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards are given annually to the outstanding male and female athletes in the Big Ten.

    Despite not playing competitive lacrosse until her junior year of high school, Leonard burst on the sport's scene as a freshman at Northwestern in 2011, when she was the recipient of the American Lacrosse Conference's Rookie of the Year honors.

    Her contributions as a draw control specialist during her debut season keyed the first of back-to-back NCAA championships for the Wildcats and foreshadowed what would transpire over the next three years, during which time Leonard would become Division I women's lacrosse's all-time leader in career draw controls. Relying on quick hands and her competitive demeanor, Leonard finished her NU tenure having controlled a staggering 469 draws in the circle, over 100 more than the previous NCAA record.

    The 2014 All-American, Tewaaraton Award nominee and NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team selection also evolved into a fearless attacker for the Wildcats, leading Northwestern in her senior campaign with 53 points and 41 goals scored.

    A Long Island native, Leonard graduates this spring with a degree in learning and organizational change.

    Big Ten Medal of Honor Recipients
    Marisa Bast • Softball • Watch Award Video
    Raleigh Smith • Men's Tennis • Watch Award Video

    The Big Ten Medal of Honor, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, is the conference's most exclusive award, and was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had "attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work." Big Ten schools currently feature more than 8,200 student-athletes, but only 24 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis.

    On the 100th anniversary of the Big Ten's biggest award, Bast's embodiment of the spirit of the Medal of Honor is truly fitting. An All-American on the field and an Academic All-American in the classroom, Bast also has left a lasting legacy in the Evanston and Chicagoland communities.

    On the field, Bast was named an All-American in 2012 after nearly winning the Big Ten's Triple Crown. She concluded her career ranked among Northwestern's all-time leaders in nine different offensive categories. In the classroom, Bast is a two-time Capital One Academic All-American, a three-time Academic All-Big Ten award winner and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. In the community, she helped create from the ground up the Wildcats Stand Up and ROARR anti-bullying initiative that has been presented in nearly a dozen area schools already.

    She will graduate tomorrow with a degree in Learning and Organizational Change and already has a job secured with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

    A mainstay in the Northwestern men's tennis lineup all four of his years, Smith has been a key contributor to the program's rebirth. A first-team All-Big Ten selection as both a junior and a senior, Smith helped guide the Wildcats to three consecutive NCAA tournament berths. His outstanding play over the last two years has had a direct correlation with Northwestern posting its second and third winningest seasons in school history.

    As a junior, he pulled off the rare sweep at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, claiming both the singles and doubles titles. This past season, he earned top-40 national rankings in both singles and doubles and earned the right to compete in the NCAA Singles Championship in Athens, Georgia.

    An Academic All-Big Ten honoree, he is graduating with a degree in learning and organizational change.

    NCAA Woman of the Year Nominees
    Marisa Bast • Softball • Watch Award Video
    Belinda Niu • Women's Tennis • Watch Award Video

    This award recognizes individual excellence in three areas: athletics, academics and community service. Each NCAA institution has the opportunity to nominate up to two graduating seniors who participate in athletics during the current school year to be their "NCAA Woman of the Year" and those nominees will be eligible for selection as the conference's Woman of the Year.

    In addition to earning the Big Ten Medal of Honor, Bast also was one of Northwestern's two NCAA Woman of the Year Award nominees alongside Niu.

    Niu has played a huge role in maintaining one of the most impressive team streaks in Big Ten Conference history. Over the last four years, she has helped lead the Northwestern women's tennis program to one Big Ten regular season title and three conference tournament crowns while earning first-team All-Big Ten honors all four years.

    As both a freshman and a senior, Niu came through with dramatic singles victories in the final match of the conference tournament title match against Michigan. Her efforts have helped the team win a Big Ten title for a remarkable 16 consecutive seasons. Individually, Niu leaves Northwestern with 100 career singles victories. This past season, she earned a top-40 national ranking and participated in the NCAA Singles Championship for the first time.

    Her efforts off the court are equally impressive. The co-president of Northwestern's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Niu was named the Division I national female recipient of the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sportsmanship & Leadership Award this year. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, she is graduating with degrees in economics as well as learning and organizational change.

    Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarships
    Maria Kovalchuk • Field Hockey • Watch Award Video
    Dan Tyson • Baseball • Watch Award Video

    In 2013, the Big Ten began awarding one male and one female student-athlete from each member institution a $7,500 postgraduate scholarship. Student-athletes must have been in their final season of NCAA eligibility, maintained at least a 3.2 grade-point-average, demonstrated leadership qualities, served as an excellent role model and intended to continue their academic work beyond their baccalaureate degree at a graduate degree program.

    Kovalchuk appeared in 71 career matches and made 22 starts for the Northwestern field hockey team during her four seasons as a Wildcat. She was a member of a senior class that recorded 54 victories, the most by a Northwestern graduating class in 22 years. Kovalchuk helped guide the Wildcats to their first Big Ten title since 1994 this past season while earning a top-10 national ranking for the second consecutive season.

    A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, she is graduating with a degree in classics.

    A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Tyson will graduate from Northwestern with a degree in economics before returning to his hometown of San Diego, Calif., where he will attend the University of California--San Diego in pursuit of a master's degree in business administration.

    Tyson was valuable member of the Wildcats pitching staff over the last four seasons, accumulating more than 50 appearances and logging more than 150 innings on the mound. Tyson led the team with a 3.47 ERA in 2014 while picking up a career-high four victories during his final season

    N Club Performance Award
    Stephanie Holthus • Volleyball • Watch Award Video
    Nikki Parsley • Field Hockey • Watch Award Video
    Jack Perry • Men's Golf • Watch Award Video
    Mike McMullan • Wrestling • Watch Award Video

    The N Club Performance Award is presented to male and female student-athletes in recognition of "spectacular and outstanding" athletic performance by a graduating senior and letter award winner.

    No one accomplished more on the volleyball court for the Northwestern Wildcats than outside hitter Holthus. She was a three-time All-Big Ten performer in the nation's toughest conference and she earned back-to-back AVCA All-America honors in 2012 and 2013.

    Holthus concluded her collegiate career with her name dotted across NU's record book. She ranks as the program's all-time leader with 1,797 kills and 3.77 kills per set. She also ranks sixth all-time with 1,347 digs after starting all 127 matches over the last four years. As a senior, Holthus buried a career-high 503 kills, marking only the fourth time in program history that any Wildcat has eclipsed 500 kills in a single season.

    The Elgin, Ill., native won multiple Big Ten Player of the Week awards throughout her tenure in Evanston and on September 24, 2013, she was named the AVCA Division I National Player of the Week after taking home tournament MVP honors at the Wildcats Classic. In addition to her remarkable achievements on the court, Holthus was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.

    Parsley's time at Northwestern not coincidentally has coincided with the rebirth of the Wildcats' field hockey program. The midfielder was honored as a first-team All-West Region and All-Big Ten selection three times after being named to the all-region second team as a freshman.

    Parsley has had the opportunity to don the Red, White and Blue as well, representing the United States at events such as the Junior Pan American Games and the Junior World Cup. Last season, she helped guide Northwestern to a share of its first Big Ten regular season title in 20 years while being honored as a second-team All-American after leading the team with 13 goals and 29 points.

    In the classroom, she has earned three Academic All-Big Ten laurels while being recognized as a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar as a junior. Parsley is graduating with a degree in learning and organizational change.

    Perry finished his All-America career at Northwestern with a strong senior season in which he compiled six top-10 finishes including three top-3 performances and a victory at the Rod Myers Invitational.

    Buoyed by a career-best 9-under par 63 in the final round of the 2014 Puerto Rico Classic that ranked as the second-lowest score in school history, Perry finished this year with a 72.05 stroke average and a career stroke average of 72.78 that ranks third overall in the Northwestern record books. An All-American and Les Bolstad Award winner for having the lowest stroke average in the conference in 2013, Perry was named a unanimous All-Big Ten first-team choice in 2014 and was one of five finalists for the prestigious Golf Coaches Association of America Byron Nelson Award.

    A multiple-time Academic All-Big Ten award winner as well as a GCAA All-America Scholar, Perry is graduating with a degree in communication studies.

    McMullan continued to build to his storied Northwestern career, stamping himself as the school's seventh three-time All-American wrestler after a third-place finish in 2014. He has finished in the Top 3 in the nation in each of the past three seasons and recorded two victories against the nation's top ranked heavyweights during the year's dual season.

    After reaching the NCAA Finals as a sophomore in 2013, McMullan showed his work ethic and sheer will battling back in the consolation finals in 2014 to win seven matches during the NCAA Championships to reach and win the Third Place Match.

    After redshirting as a freshman, McMullan will return to campus with one more year of eligibility this fall already with 71 career victories in his Wildcats career. A journalism major in Medill, McMullan is interning for Men's Health Magazine this spring and summer.

    N Club Achievement Award
    Emily Allard • Softball • Watch Award Video
    Drew Crawford • Men's Basketball • Watch Award Video

    The N Club Achievement Award is given to one male and one female student-athlete who have exhibited the qualities of good citizenship, significant academic achievement and outstanding athletic performance.

    Allard redefined the meaning of speed in the Northwestern softball program. A four-year leadoff batter for the Wildcats, Allard concluded her career with a .402 batting average and more than 300 base hits.

    Once on base is where Allard was most dangerous, shattering the Northwestern school record with 154 stolen bases--a number which ranks 19th in the history of NCAA Division I softball. She set the school's single-season batting record in 2011 with a .491 average during the same year she was named the NFCA Golden Shoes Award winner as the nation's top base stealer.

    A four-time All-Big Ten selection and 2014 All-Big Ten defensive team selection, Allard was selected 12th overall by the Chicago Bandits in the National Pro Fastpitch Senior Draft.

    She graduated with a degree in communications studies and currently is pursuing a master's degree in Integrated Marketing Communications.

    The consummate Wildcat, Crawford has left his mark on the men's basketball program during his time at Northwestern. A two-time third-team All-Big Ten selection as well as a Big Ten Freshman of the Year honoree, Crawford completed his collegiate career ranked second in school history with 1,920 points. His 143 starts and 142 games played rank first all-time at Northwestern while also ranking in the top 10 in field goals, 3-point field goals, blocked shots, rebounds and assists.

    He played a key role in helping lead the Wildcats to three postseason appearances. This past season, he was named the Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week after leading Northwestern to road wins at both Wisconsin and Minnesota.

    His success wasn't limited solely to the court, however, as he was named an Academic All-Big Ten selection four times while twice earning Academic All-America honors, including a first-team designation this year. He graduated with a degree in economics and currently is pursing a master's degree in sports administration.

    Billy McKinney Award
    Lepe Seetane • Men's Soccer • Watch Award Video

    The Billy McKinney Award is presented to the male student-athlete who has exhibited exemplary leadership qualities, constant (110 percent) effort, and a positive attitude that, in his coach's estimation, makes him a "coach's dream." McKinney graduated as Northwestern's all-time leading scorer, netting 1,900 points for the men's basketball team from 1973-77. He went on to play nine years in the NBA.

    Born in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho surrounded by South Africa, Seetane moved to the United States at age 14 to live with his guardians Marc and Pam Maguire in Louisville, Kentucky. After playing soccer in the neighborhoods of Lesotho, Seetane found his passion and began playing the sport in organized leagues in Louisville.

    Seetane joined the Wildcats roster in 2010, where he promptly made his impact in college, being named to the Big-Ten All Freshman Team. Over his four seasons at NU, Seetane started 81 games in his career, including all 21 this season and helped lead the `Cats to two straight Big Ten regular season titles, a Big Ten Tournament championship and three appearances in the NCAA Championships, where NU reached the Sweet Sixteen in 2012.

    Nearly 9,000 miles from his birthplace, Seetane is the first member of his family to graduate from college.

    Lisa Ishikawa Award
    Julie Sierks • Women's Soccer • Watch Award Video

    The Lisa Ishikawa award is presented to a female student-athlete who has exhibited outstanding leadership ability and selfless dedication to team goals; Ishikawa's determination and positive attitude on the softball diamond led her to perform above and beyond the expected. She was the NCAA's single-season strikeout record-holder for nearly a decade, leading Northwestern to four-straight Big Ten titles and three-straight Women's College World Series from 1984-87.

    Sierks represented Northwestern University with the highest distinction during her four years in Evanston. Despite a number of ups and downs throughout her career, including multiple injuries followed by grueling offseason rehabilitation, she was always one of the most engaged and enthusiastic team members while always displaying a smile -- even while on crutches. As one of her teammates described her "Julie is the type of person that will be successful no matter what she does. She is so determined and no one ever heard her utter a single complaint. She is so selfless and positive."

    She never missed a game in her Northwestern career, playing all 76 contests and ended her tenure as a solid contributor on the 2013 team, tying for the team lead in goals.

    A three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Julie will graduate this weekend with a degree in industrial engineering along with a managerial analytics certificate from the Kellogg School of Management.

    Northwestern's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Recipients
    Jackie Powell • Women's Swimming and Diving • Watch Award Video
    Jack Quigley • Baseball • Watch Award Video

    The Big Ten Sportsmanship award is given to one male and female student-athlete who displays exemplary sportsmanship and is a key contributor in the community.

    Powell was instrumental in organizing the incredibly successful inaugural "Breaststroke4BreastCancer" event in October of 2013 that has raised tens of thousands of dollars for local cancer research over the past two years.

    A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, Powell ranked in Northwestern's top times in the 50 and 100 free and swam the 'Cats fastest time on the year in the 200 free, where she reached the finals at the Big Ten Championships.

    She overcame a season-ending injury as a junior to also lead the 'Cats with the team's best relay times in the 200, 400 and 800 free relays. Powell posted NCAA `B' Cut times five times throughout her career and swam strong times in the Big Ten Championships each of the last four years.

    Powell will be working for the Department of Health Services in Madison, Wisconsin while applying to medical schools.

    Team captain Quigley exemplifies what it means to be a student-athlete at Northwestern. He led the Wildcats with 24 appearances in 2014 and ranked fifth in the Big Ten with eight saves. He was named Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the Week on April 21 after a particularly dominant weekend when he helped NU win a series on the road at Nebraska.

    In the classroom, he is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and a 2014 CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree.

    Quigley is also heavily involved in several community relations efforts by serving as an ambassador for the NFL Fuel Up to Play 60 program, the Will to Live Foundation and a mentor during the annual Buddy Ball baseball games.

    Kovalchuk and Quigley also were honored with the Margaret Akerstrom Academic Achievement Award, given annually to the male and female graduating student-athlete with the highest GPA. The award, formerly the Director's Award, was renamed last year in honor of 25 years of service by retired Associate Athletic Director for Academic Services Margaret Akerstrom.


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