Champaign, Ill. (UI Release)--Andrew Riley (Kingston, Jamaica) from track and field and Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) from volleyball have been named the winners of the 2011-12 Dike Eddleman Awards, which are presented to the topmale and female athletes at the University of Illinois each school year. Riley is a repeat winner while Ward becomes the first volleyball player to claim the honor since Cristy Chapman did so in 1999.
Riley became the first male athlete in the history of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships to win national titles in both the 100-meter dash and 110-meter high hurdles in the same year. The United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named him the Track Athlete of the Year after helping Illinois to its best finish at the NCAA meet (11th) since 1988. He won four NCAA titles in his Illinois career, which ties for the most in the history of the program, and is an 11-time first-team All-American and 11-time Big Ten champion. Riley holds five school records, one Big Ten record and two Big Ten meet records.
This season, Riley posted a 10.02 school record time in an NCAA semifinal heat of the 100 meters. He won Big Ten Outdoor titles in the 100-meter dash and the110-meter hurdles and ran the lead leg for the Big Ten champion 4x100-meterrelay. During the indoor season, he improved his school record time in the 60-meter dash five times and ran the second fastest times in the country in both 60-meter dash and the 60-meter hurdles. He set a Big Ten meet record in winning the 60m hurdles, while also claiming the conference title in the 60 meters. He ranks second on the Big Ten's all-time list in both events.
"It's a blessing and it's heartwarming to know that the University of Illinois has recognized my talent and has chosen me twice," Riley said. "It's a good feeling to know that I can represent Illinois and come out on top of all these other great athletes. I hope I can be an influence on other young athletes and let them know that all it takes is to have a dream and the dedication to make that dream a reality. I humbly accept this award and thank all my coaches, counselors and all who aided in my development."
Ward was named first-team All-America this season after garnering second team All-America honors as a junior in 2010. She was named to all-tournament teams at both the State Farm Illini Classic and the BYU/Nike Invitational and finished her career with 1,610 kills and 1,044 digs combined in two seasons at Florida and two at Illinois.
Illinois had its best season in school history, reaching the program's third National Semifinal and first appearance in the NCAA Championship match, and Ward wasinstrumental in the run. She was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Gainesville Regional, posting 38 kills and 20 digs while hitting .319 combined in two wins. Ward tallied 23 kills while hitting .500 against her former school, Florida, to clinch a Final Four berth then followed that with 27 kills and 22 digs while hitting .268 in the national semifinal victory over USC. She was named to the NCAA All-Tournament team after also adding 19 kills and 13digs in the national championship match against UCLA.
"It is an honor to be recognized alongside some of the other tremendous athletes to compete at Illinois," Ward said. "Playing at Illinois for these great coaches and teammates has truly been a special experience, one I'll never forget."
The University of Illinois Athlete of the Year was first awarded in 1940. The award was given annually until it was discontinued in 1973. Since 1982, the University of Illinois has recognized both a Male and Female Athlete of theYear. In 1993, the awards were named in honor of the 11-time UI letterman and former Olympian, Dwight "Dike" Eddleman.
This is the final major honor announced by the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics this year. Jenna Carosio from soccer and Luke Guthrie from golf were the recipients of the Big Ten Medals of Honor. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase and tennis' Amy Allin took home the male and female Spirit Awards. National champions C.J. Maestas from gymnastics and Ashley Spencer from track and field claimed the male and female Newcomers of the Year.