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Victors highlights top NIU teams, student-athletes

April 29, 2014

Victor E. HuskieNIU Athletics held its fifth annual Victors Awards at the Egyptian Theatre on Monday night.

Jordan Lynch of the Huskie football team and Nelle Youel of the Huskie women’s tennis team were honored as NIU’s Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

An all-sports, ESPY-style awards show, the Victors highlighted the on-field and off-field accomplishments of Huskie Athletics from the 2013 spring, 2013 fall and 2013-14 winter seasons.

Lynch finished third in the balloting for the 2013 Heisman Trophy; the highest ever finish for a player from the Mid-American Conference. He closed his Huskie career with five NCAA FBS records for quarterback rushing and led the Huskies to a 24-4 record as a starter. Lynch ranks second on the NIU career total offense list and is NIU’s third all-time leading rusher.

Youel posted a 21-3 singles record during the spring of 2013, playing all 24 matches at No. 1 singles. Youel also recorded a 19-5 doubles record while helping her team to a 14-10 mark. Youel garnered All-MAC First Team honors, the first for a Huskie since 2006, and went on to claim the USTA Midwest Sectional Championship last summer.

Along with Lynch’s individual honor, the Huskie football team was honored as the Men’s Team of the Year. The Huskies finished with a 12-2 record, winning the MAC West Division. NIU made history when it became the first MAC program to win two games against the Big Ten in the same regular season when it won at Iowa and Purdue.

The NIU volleyball team was named the Women’s Team of the Year after going 19-13, including 10-6 in MAC play, and advancing to the MAC Tournament Semifinals for the fourth consecutive season. NIU’s 10 conference wins marked its fourth consecutive season with double-digit league victories. While the volleyball team earned team of the year honors, its head coach, Ray Gooden, was honored as the Women’s Coach of the Year.

Jared Torrence and Courtney Ksiazek

Jared Torrence and Courtney Ksiazek

Men’s basketball head coach Mark Montgomery was named the Men’s Coach of the Year. Montgomery guided the Huskies to a 10-win improvement, the largest single-season improvement in school history and the 10th-largest nationally in 2013-14.

Jared Torrence of the Huskie wrestling team and Courtney Ksiazek from the NIU women’s soccer team were honored as Mr. and Ms. Victor E. Huskie, an honor presented to student-athletes who represent the values of being a champion in the classroom, in competition and in life.

The Victors Cup, a team award reserved for the team who epitomizes outstanding athletic, academic and community service achievement, was awarded to baseball and softball. The Huskie baseball team was also honored as the Men’s Community Service Team of the Year, with 475 community service hours, while the women’s golf team received the Women’s Community Service Team of the Year award, with 430 hours of community service.

Individually, Joe Windsor from the NIU football team received the Male Community Service Award, he dedicated more than 100 hours of community service to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America, and Arantza De La Torre of the Huskie women’s tennis team earned the Female Community Service Award. She had more than 250 community service hours with Tails Humane Society, Kite Fest and STEM Fest.

De La Torre and the women’s tennis team was also honored as the Women’s Academic Team of the Year, with a cumulative 3.59 GPA, while the men’s tennis team was recognized as the Men’s Academic Team of the Year, with a cumulative 3.37 GPA.

Nelle Youel and Jordan Lynch

Nelle Youel and Jordan Lynch

NIU President Dr. Douglas Baker was on hand to present the Male and Female Presidential Academic Awards. The Presidential Academic Award honorees were Eli Anderson of the Huskie baseball team, a psychology major with a 3.26 GPA who also led NIU in nearly every pitching category, and Justine Schepler from the NIU volleyball team, an accountancy major with a 3.89 who led the Huskies with 547 digs.

Mary Grace Kelly, also from the Huskie volleyball team, picked up Female Newcomer of the Year honors. Kelly was a MAC All-Freshman Team honoree and ranked third on the team in kills while starting all 32 matches. Aaric Armstead of the men’s basketball team earned the Male Newcomer of the Year Award. Armstead was also a MAC All-Freshman Team recipient, he averaged 9.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during conference play.

Armstead’s teammate Jordan Threloff picked up the Play of the Year Award, as voted on by the fans on NIUHuskies.com. Threloff’s offensive rebound and put-back against Eastern Michigan lifted the Huskies to a 61-59 double overtime win over the Eagles on Feb. 20, and was in ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays later that night.

Mary Grace Kelly and Aaric Armstead

Mary Grace Kelly and Aaric Armstead

The Unsung Hero of the Year Award, which recognizes a student-athlete who serves the best interest of their team through selfless commitment, was given to Jenna Thorp of the Huskie women’s basketball team.

Morgan Johnson of the NIU gymnastics team was honored with the Huskie Pride Award, which is given to a student-athlete who exhibits the greatest passion and dedication to NIU Athletics.

The Huskie Heart Award, recognizing a student-athlete who best exemplifies the comeback spirit by distinguishing themselves in competition after rehabbing an injury, was presented to Tyler Loos of the NIU football team. Loos recovered from a broken tibia in 2012 to earn a starting role in 2013.

Isaac Kannah from the NIU men’s soccer team received the Huskies Vision Award, given to a student-athlete whose improvement can be seen academically, athletically and socially.

The Staff Excellence Award, honoring an NIU employee whose contribution to intercollegiate athletics epitomizes the Huskie work ethic and dedication to student-athlete success, was presented to Sam Baker, Assistant Director for Advising and Undergraduate Studies.

Morgan Johnson

Morgan Johnson

2014 Victors Award Winners

  • Male Newcomer of the Year: Aaric Armstead, Men’s Basketball
  • Female Newcomer of the Year: Mary Grace Kelly, Volleyball
  • Male Community Service Award: Joe Windsor, Football
  • Female Community Service Award: Arantza De La Torre, Women’s Tennis
  • Men’s Academic Team of the Year: Men’s Tennis
  • Women’s Academic Team of the Year: Women’s Tennis
  • Play of the Year: Jordan Threloff, Men’s Basketball
  • Unsung Hero of the Year: Jenna Thorp, Women’s Basketball
  • Huskie Pride Award: Morgan Johnson, Gymnastics
  • Men’s Team of the Year: Football
  • Women’s Team of the Year: Volleyball
  • Male Athlete of the Year: Jordan Lynch, Football
  • Female Athlete of the Year: Nelle Youel, Women’s Tennis
  • Huskie Vision Award: Isaac Kannah, Men’s Soccer
  • Male Presidential Academic Award: Eli Anderson, Baseball
  • Female Presidential Academic Award: Justine Schepler, Volleyball
  • Staff Excellence Award: Sam Baker, Undergraduate Studies
  • Men’s Community Service Team of the Year: Baseball
  • Women’s Community Service Team of the Year: Women’s Golf
  • Men’s Coach of the Year: Mark Montgomery, Men’s Basketball
  • Women’s Coach of the Year: Ray Gooden, Volleyball
  • Huskie Heart Award: Tyler Loos, Football
  • Men’s Victors Cup: Baseball
  • Women’s Victors Cup: Softball
  • Mr. Victor E. Huskie: Jared Torrence, Wrestling
  • Ms. Victor E. Huskie: Courtney Ksiazek, Women’s Soccer

For more information on NIU athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.