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    NU Honors Student-Athletes at Annual N Club Banquet

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Members of Northwestern's senior class take the oath during their induction into the N Club.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Members of Northwestern's senior class take the oath during their induction into the N Club.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    June 20, 2013

    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
    Venric Mark • Football

    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.

    After two years as a return specialist for the Wildcats, Mark burst on the scene as Northwestern's starting running back this year, easily becoming NU's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006 and earning consensus All-Big Ten accolades at the position.

    Mark, who was one of 10 national semifinalists for the prestigious Doak Walker Award and NU's Offensive MVP in 2013, scored 14 touchdowns and recorded the sixth-best single-season rushing total in school history with 1,366 yards, also coming within 29 yards of eclipsing the Northwestern record for all-purpose yards in a single year.

    Meanwhile, Mark retained his title as one of the most dynamic kick returners in college football, notching two punt return touchdowns en route to being named a first-team All-America punt returner by the Football Writers Association of America -- NU's first All-American on the gridiron since 2005.

    Northwestern's Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year Nominee
    Chelsea Armstrong • Field Hockey

    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.

    Armstrong leaves Northwestern as one of the most decorated field hockey players in Big Ten history.

    A Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient a year ago, she was named a first-team All-Big Ten and all-region selection all four years of her career. A second-team All-America honoree as a sophomore, Armstrong was named to the All-America first team each of the last two seasons. Fourteen times in her career she was recognized as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week and she was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year as both a sophomore and a junior.

    With a four-goal performance on her Senior Day, Armstrong became just the ninth player in NCAA Division I history to score 100 career goals. Her 238 career points rank eighth in Division I history, while her career average of 2.98 points per game ranks seventh. Armstrong's 29 goals as a senior led the nation during the regular season.

    Her efforts helped Northwestern post its highest win total in 23 years and reach as high as eighth in the national rankings. She is currently working towards her master's degree in sports administration.

    Big Ten Medal of Honor Recipients
    Luke Farrell • baseball
    Gabriella Flibotte • women's lacrosse

    The Big Ten Medal of Honor is given annually to one graduating male and female student-athlete of outstanding academic and athletic talent.

    Farrell has established himself as one of the all-time greats to ever wear a Wildcat uniform. He was one of the top pitchers in the Big Ten during his senior campaign, earning a second team All-Big Ten selection. His season-long performance was one of the best by a Northwestern pitcher in a long time; he finished with a 2.13 ERA, the fourth-lowest in the conference, and struck out a career-high 81 hitters. Opponents hit just .218 against him during the season.

    He earned two Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors in a span of three weeks during Big Ten play, highlighted by a complete-game shutout of Michigan at Wrigley Field on April 20.

    Farrell excels in the classroom as well, capturing three Academic All-Big Ten awards for his performance while pursuing a communication studies degree with a minor in business institutions.

    In her Wildcat career, Flibotte was a four-year starter and defensive specialist for the `Cats who during her senior season led the team with an NU single-season record 60 ground balls as well as 49 caused turnovers, good for the third-best single-season total in program history.

    Flibotte's outstanding senior campaign led to her first career IWLCA All-America accolade as a second-team honoree. She also was a first-team All-West/Midwest Region honoree and was named MVP of the American Lacrosse Conference Tournament, leading the Wildcats to the conference crown. Flibotte previously earned ALC All-Tournament Team honors in both 2010 and 2012.

    The three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree will graduate with a degree in communication studies.

    Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarships
    Jarrett Baughman • men's soccer
    Kristin Scharkey • softball

    In 2013, the Big Ten began awarding one male and one female student-athlete from each member institution a 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.

    Baughman is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten award winner and was a 2012 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar who will attend law school after graduation. A full time starter for the Wildcats over the last three seasons, Baughman was an All-Big Ten, Big Ten All-Tournament Team and TopDrawerSoccer National Team of the Week honoree as a senior in 2012 while helping NU to its second-consecutive Big Ten championship.

    Scharkey is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten award winner while earning NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete status in 2012. She graduated in March with a degree in journalism and now is pursuing a Master's degree in creative non-fiction writing here at Northwestern.

    Scharkey started 179 games in her career and enjoyed her best season as a senior in 2013, batting .313 from the leadoff position and legging out five triples, which are the most for a Wildcat in a single season in 23 years. She concluded her career ranked seventh in school history with 63 stolen bases. She also is one of Northwestern's nominees for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.

    N Club Performance Award
    Chris Ritter • men's soccer
    Taylor Thornton • women's lacrosse

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

    A three-year starter in the NU midfield, Ritter helped guide Northwestern to back-to-back Big Ten regular-season championships and the program's first Big Ten Tournament title in 2011. He was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 and received first-team All-Big Ten honors while ranking second on the 2012 squad with five goals and six assists. In 2011, he earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors as he tallied four goals, including the game-winner in Northwestern's 1-0 win over Michigan that gave the Wildcats their first Big Ten title in program history.

    A 2013 Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Ritter is majoring in communication studies with a minor in business institutions. After receiving a medical hardship during his sophomore season, Ritter will return to the Northwestern men's soccer team for a fifth season during the 2013 campaign.

    One of the most talented all-around players in the history of NCAA women's lacrosse, Thornton once again did it in 2013, along the way earning her third straight first-team All-America honor to become the second four-time All-American in program history.

    This year, Thornton scored 28 goals on attack while remaining one of the game's top one-on-one defenders and racking up 29 caused turnovers and 44 ground balls. The 2012 Honda Sports Award winner and 2011 National Defender of the Year graduates ranked second on the school's career ground balls list, third in caused turnovers and tied for sixth in draw controls. She also was a 2012 Tewaaraton Award finalist and one of five female finalists for Sports Illustrated's 2012-13 Female College Athlete of the Year award.

    Thornton is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and is graduating with a degree in communication studies.

    N Club Achievement Award
    David Nwabuisi • football
    Jason Welch • wrestling
    Audrey Huth • cross country
    Dayana Sarkisova • women's fencing

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

    A mainstay in the middle of the Northwestern defense over the last three seasons, Nwabuisi thrived as a team co-captain in his senior campaign as he led NU to a 10-win season and a victory in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. Nwabuisi ranked second on the defensive unit with 97 tackles and tied for the team lead in interceptions with three, including one return for a touchdown at Michigan State.

    The fifth-year senior also recorded 8.5 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and eight passes defended for a unit that ranked fourth in the Big Ten in rushing defense.

    Nwabuisi graduated with a degree in communication studies before earning his master's in sports administration from Northwestern.

    After 116 career wins, a trip to the national finals and three All-America honors, Welch will leave Northwestern as one of the most decorated wrestlers in program history. He became just the sixth three-time All-American at NU as he finished the 2012-13 season in the national finals at 157 lbs.

    Welch's career .841 winning percentage and victory total of 116 also rank sixth and seventh, respectively, at NU. His senior season was his most memorable in an NU singlet with a career-high 34 victories, a Big Ten title and a national runner-up finish. Welch also won two Midlands titles on his home mat at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

    After five years in Evanston, the English major plans to stick around the area as he will pursue his Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Northwestern.

    Arguably the most accomplished runner in the history of Northwestern cross country, Huth has been a key component in the program's resurgence over the last four years. As a sophomore in 2010, Huth became the first Wildcat to compete in the NCAA Championships in nearly a decade after she broke the 6K school record in the qualifying meet with a time of 20:35.

    This season, Huth broke her own mark with a time of 20 minutes, 19 seconds at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational, and several weeks later helped NU to its best finish at the Big Ten Championships since 2002. She is a two-time All-Midwest Region performer and earned All-Big Ten honors in her junior campaign. Huth even carried her success over to the spring track season where she was a four-time Chicagoland champion in the 5K event.

    She is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and graduates this spring with a degree in philosophy.

    Sarkisova is one of four fencers in Northwestern history to collect four All-America honors during her time in Evanston. She overcame injury as a senior to record more than 70 victories as she battled her way to an eighth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

    In 2010, Sarkisova became the first foilist in Northwestern history to earn first team All-America accolades with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. In addition to her All-America awards, she was a four-time Midwest Fencing Conference medalist with two bronze and two silver performances.

    A squad captain, Sarkisova exits the program with 382 victories, the fourth-best total in Northwestern history.

    Billy McKinney Award
    Reggie Hearn • men's basketball

    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.

    Hearn joined the Northwestern men's basketball team as a walk-on in the fall of 2009 and played a total of just 72 minutes his first two seasons. However, his work ethic and refusal to give up earned him the opportunity to be a starter as both a junior and a senior while being named a team captain his senior year.

    Hearn became the team's leading scorer as a senior, averaging 13.4 points per game, a mark that ranked 13th in the Big Ten and helped earn him All-Big Ten accolades. A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and the male winner of the 2013 Hammer Strength All-America award, he will graduate tomorrow with a degree in psychology.

    Lisa Ishikawa Award
    Taylor Reynolds • women's swimming

    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.

    Reynolds came to Northwestern as a lightly recruited prospect and worked her way into an NCAA qualifier and NU school-record holder. In 2012-13, Reynolds established a new NU mark in the 50 free with a 22.14 at the Big Ten Championships, lowering the time previously set by 2008 All-American Andrea Hupman.

    She also earned an All-Big Ten award in her senior season when she finished second in the conference in the 100 free, and set another school record with the 200 free relay at this year's B1G meet.

    Reynolds is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten award winner, a CSCAA Scholar All-American and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar who will graduate this weekend with a degree in journalism.

    Northwestern's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Recipients
    Charlie Rimkus • men's swimming
    Kate Popovec • women's basketball

    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.

    Northwestern's senior leader and team workhorse at any distance for the last four years, Rimkus concluded his career at NU ranked on the Wildcats' top times list for 2012-13 in eight different events, showcasing his talent and versatility.

    A 2011 NCAA Championships qualifier in three distance events, Charlie helped mentor freshman phenom Jordan Wilimovsky to an NCAA berth and school record in the mile this season. His leadership extended beyond his team to the entire student-athlete population this year when he served as the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

    Rimkus is a multiple-time Academic All-Big Ten recipient and will graduate this weekend with a degree in political science with a minor in business institutions.

    Popovec joined the Northwestern women's basketball team in 2010-11 after transferring from Pittsburgh and had an immediate impact on and off the court. A key reserve off the bench during her time at NU, the Canfield, Ohio native played in nearly every game during the 2012-13 campaign despite suffering from a serious injury.

    Known as the "team mom" she was always providing support for her teammates whether on or off the court and was elected team captain this season. A two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Popovec will leave Northwestern with an undergraduate degree in communication studies and Masters in Sports Administration.

    Popovec has aspirations to continue her career as a basketball coach and attended the Women's Basketball Coaches' Association's "So You Want to be a Coach?" program in April of 2013.

    Northwestern also announced its 2013 NCAA Woman of the Year candidates at the event: Thornton and Scharkey. This award recognizes individual excellence in three areas: athletics, academics and community service. Up to two graduating seniors at each institution who participated in the 2012-13 academic year will be recognized as the "NCAA Women of the Year" and will automatically be eligible for state selection.

    Patrick Ward of football and Mei Liu of women's golf 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 this year in honor of retiring Associate Athletic Director for Academic Services>Margaret Akerstrom, who is retiring after 25 years of service.

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