Illinois Newcomer of the Year Awards go to Akinosun, Hartville
June 11, 2013
Champaign, Ill. - Fighting Illini Athletics had another successful year in 2012-13, and the recipients of Illinois' Newcomer of the Year Awards show that the future could be even brighter. Women's track and field sprinter Morolake Akinosun (Waubonsie Valley HS, Aurora, Ill.), a two-time Big Ten Champion and two-time All-American, and men's gymnast Fred Hartville (Arabia Mountain HS, Atlanta), the Big Ten and NCAA Vault Champion, were named the winners of the annual awards presented to the top male and female newcomers at the University of Illinois each school year.
Akinosun had one of the best freshman seasons for a sprinter in school history, winning two Big Ten indoor titles (60m dash and 4x400 relay) and earning first-team All-America outdoor honors in two events (100m dash, 4x400m relay). She helped lead the Fighting Illini to the Big Ten Indoor team title, the program's first since 1996, and was named Big Ten Indoor Freshman of the Year.
Outdoors, Akinosun clocked the second-fastest 100m time in school history (11.29) at the Texas Relays and ran on three relay teams that won Drake Relays titles (4x100, 4x400 and Sprint Medley). A native of Aurora, Ill., she was runner-up in both the 100m and 4x100 relay at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships before competing in three events at the NCAA Outdoor Championships (100m, 200m and 4x400), including an eighth-place finish in the 100m and anchoring Illinois' fifth-place 4x400 relay.
Akinosun is the seventh overall and the second straight women's track and field athlete to garner Newcomer of the Year honors, as Ashley Spencer won the award last season. She was selected by a panel of DIA coaches and administrators over three other finalists: Jocelynn Birks (volleyball), Giana O'Connor (gymnastics) and Remeny Perez (softball).
Hartville becomes the second straight gymnast to earn the distinction, following in the footsteps of last year's winner, C.J. Maestas. Hartville won a national title on vault, beating out 2012 Olympian Sam Mikulak for the title, and earned All-America honors at the NCAA Championships. He was the fifth national vault champion in school history and was the first-ever freshman to accomplish the feat. At the Big Ten Championships, he won the vault title with a school-record score of 15.550. A walk-on from Atlanta, Hartville led the team with nine event titles and was a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week honoree.
Hartville beat out five other finalists for Newcomer of the Year honors: Thomas Detry (golf), Kevin Duchene (baseball), Jared Hiltzik (tennis), Mason Monheim (football) and Graham Morris (track and field).
Akinosun and Hartville join an elite club of past Newcomer of the Year winners, including all-time Illini greats like Deon Thomas (men's basketball, 1991), Simeon Rice (football, 1993), Adam Tirapelle (wrestling, 1998), Amer Delic (tennis, 2001), Cassie Hunt (track, 2004), Kevin Anderson (tennis, 2005), Angela Bizzarri (track and cross country, 2007), Andrew Riley (track, 2009), Vanessa DiBernardo (soccer, 2011), Ashley Spencer (track, 2012) and many others.