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    Bizzarri, Ruggeri garner Eddleman Awards
    Angela Bizzarri and Paul Ruggeri each won national titles this year.

    Angela Bizzarri and Paul Ruggeri each won national titles this year.

    June 17, 2009

    Champaign, Ill. - A pair of NCAA champions have been named the 2008-09 winners of the Dike Eddleman Awards, which goes to the top male and female athletes at the University of Illinois. Gymnast Paul Ruggeri, who won NCAA titles on both the parallel bars and high bar and Angela Bizzarri, who last week won the national title in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, are this year's Eddleman recipients. This is the first time since 2003 that both recipients were NCAA champions. In addition, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics handed out its Male and Female Newcomers of the Year, respectively, to Andrew Riley of track & field and Michelle Bartsch of volleyball.

    Bizzarri, who claims the Eddleman honor for the second straight year, won the 5,000-meter title going away, bettering second place by some nine seconds. That marked her seventh All-America honor in her three-year collegiate career combined in cross country and indoor and outdoor track. The sophomore from Mason, Ohio, also holds six school records, including a personal best time of 15:37.39 in the 5,000 meters from the Mt. SAC Relays, which is the 15th fastest time by any American this year. Bizzarri set a meet record in winning the Big Ten title in the 5,000 meters and claimed the Mideast Regional title in the event for the second straight year. In addition, she was named USTFCCCA Midwest Region Track Athlete of the Year.

    In the fall, Bizzarri placed sixth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, tying the best-ever finish for an Illinois athlete at the national meet. She reset her own school 6K record in that meet while leading the Illini to their fourth straight top-10 national finish. During the indoor track season, Bizzarri placed fourth in the 3,000 meters at the NCAA Championships and set school records in both the 3,000 (9:11.62) and 5,000 (16:07.50) at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.

    "It's an honor to win this award again," Bizzarri said. "There are so many great athletes at Illinois, both past and present. When you look at the list of past winners, there are a lot of big names and those who have had a lot of success at the professional level. It's cool to be mentioned in the same company. Your goal as an athlete is always to continue to improve, no matter what you have already accomplished. After my season last year, I didn't know what was going to happen this year, so I just kept working as hard as I could and kept the same mindset. I'm happy everything worked out and I stayed healthy."

    Ruggeri is on pace to become one of the most celebrated gymnasts in Illinois' storied history. The Manlius, N.Y., native capped an impressive sophomore season by winning individual national titles on both the parallel bars and high bar. The First Team All-Big Ten selection also won conference championships on parallel bars and floor while leading the Fighting Illini to their first Big Ten championship in five years. The season also included being crowned the U.S. National High Bar champion at the Winter Cup Challenge. In addition, Ruggeri charted 28 top-three finishes and 13 individual event titles despite missing four competitions due to injury.

    "It is an honor to receive such a prestigious award and be recognized by the University that I love," Ruggeri said. "To be singled out as the top male athlete at Illinois is incredible because there are so many amazing competitors here. My coach (Justin Spring) won this award twice and went on to win a bronze medal at the Olympics, which is exciting because that is one of the goals I hope to achieve. To be in the same company as him and other Illini greats, shows how Illinois can prepare athletes for the world stage."

    The University of Illinois Newcomers of the Year also have impressive credentials.

    Riley finished the outdoor season as an All-American, placing fifth in the 110-meter hurdles at the NCAA Championships. He earned All-America status indoors after placing sixth in the 60-meter hurdles at the NCAA Indoor meet in March. The Kingston, Jamaica, native made the most of his time as an Illini after enrolling in school in January. His time of 13.61 in the 110 hurdles at the Drake Relays shattered the Illinois record by .11 seconds. Riley was named Big Ten Indoor Freshman of the Year after winning the 60-meter hurdles at the conference meet with a school record time of 7.72. He also placed fourth at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships in the 110-meter hurdles.

    Bartsch burst on the Illinois volleyball scene a year after the nation's sixth-rated recruiting class. Their combined efforts earned Illinois its 10th NCAA Sweet 16 berth and first since 2003. The versatile and talented Bartsch played middle blocker for the U.S. Junior National Team, which won gold at the 2008 NORCECA Championships where Bartsch was named the top server of the championships. The Maryville, Ill., native and Collinsville High School graduate played right side for Illinois in the fall, earning Big Ten and NCAA Mideast Regional Freshman of the Year. The Honorable Mention All-Midwest Regional choice ranked seventh in the Big Ten in blocks per set.

    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 the Year. In 1993, the awards were named in honor of the 11-time UI letterman and former Olympian, Dwight "Dike" Eddleman. The Newcomer and Spirit Awards have been presented each year since 1990.

    The other major awards were named on April 28 at the Scholar-Athlete reception. Basketball's Trent Meacham and soccer's Emily Zurrer earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor while Chester Frazier from basketball and Kayani Turner from volleyball were named the Male and Female Spirit Award winners, respectively.

    All-Time Illinois Athletes of the Year

    1940	William J. Hapac, basketball & baseball
    1941 	John Drish, basketball & baseball
    1942	Andy Phillip, basketball & baseball
    1943	Andy Phillip, basketball & baseball
    1944	Buddy Young, football & track
    1945	Walton "Junior" Kirk, basketball
    1946	Herbert McKenley, track
    1947	Alex Agase, football & wrestling
    1948	Dwight "Dike" Eddleman, football, basketball & track
    1949	Dwight "Dike" Eddleman, football, basketball & track
    1950	Russell Steger, football & baseball
    1951	Don Sunderlage, basketball
    1952	Charles Boerio, football
    1953	Clive Follmer, basketball & baseball
    1954	J.C. Caroline, football
    1955	Paul Judson, basketball
    1956	Em Lindbeck, football & baseball
    1957	Abe Woodson, football & track
    1958	Bob Mitchell, football & track
    1959	Abe Grossfeld, gymnastics
    1960	Bill Burrell, football
    1961	Bill Brown, football & track
    1962	Doug Mills, football, basketball & baseball
    1963	Harold Holmes, gymnastics
    1964	Dick Butkus, football
    1965	Dick Butkus, football
    1966	Jim Grabowski, football
    1967	Jim Dawson, basketball
    1968	Dave Scholz, basketball
    1969	Dave Scholz, basketball
    1970	Mike Price, basketball
    1971	Lee LaBadie, track/cross country
    1972	Rick Gross, track/cross country
    1973-81 Award not given
    1982	Tony Eason, football
    1983	Tony Eason, football
             	Marianne Dickerson, track/cross country
    1984    Don Thorp, football
             	Karen Brems, gymnastics
    1985	Charles Lake, gymnastics
             	Kelly McNee, track/cross country
    1986	David Williams, football
            	Jonelle Polk, basketball
    1987	Darrin Fletcher, baseball
            	Mary Eggers, volleyball
    1988	Tim Simon, track
              	Mary Eggers, volleyball
    1989	David Zeddies, gymnastics
            	Mary Eggers, volleyball
    1990	Kendall Gill, basketball
            	Laura Bush, volleyball
    1991	Jon Llewellyn, wrestling
            	Sarah Sharp, basketball
            	Renee Heiken, golf
    1992	Tim Simpson, football
            	Len Sitko, track/cross country
            	Renee Heiken, golf
            	Tonja Buford, track
    1993	Marko Koers, track
            	Tonja Buford, track
    1994	Anthony Jones, track
            	Tina Rogers, volleyball
    1995	Dana Howard, football
            	Steve Marianetti, wrestling
            	Tonya Williams, track
    1996	Kevin Hardy, football
            	Tonya Williams, track
    1997	Ernest Benion, wrestling
            	Ashley Berggren, basketball
    1998	Eric Siebert, wrestling
            	Ashley Berggren, basketball
            	Yvonne Harrison, track & field
    1999	Oliver Freelove, tennis
           	Cristy Chapman, volleyball
    2000	Jason Anderson, baseball
            	Jessica Aveyard, swimming
    2001	Adam Tirapelle, wrestling
            	Perdita Felicien, track & field
    2002	Kurt Kittner, football
            	Perdita Felicien, track & field
    2003	Amer Delic, tennis
            	Matt Lackey, wrestling
            	Perdita Felicien, track & field
    2004	Justin Spring, gymnastics
            	Leisha Alcia, soccer
    2005	Deron Williams, basketball
            	Cassie Hunt, track & field/cross country
    2006	Justin Spring, gymnastics
           	Cassie Hunt, track & field/cross country
    2007	Kevin Anderson, tennis
    	Yvonne Mensah, track & field
    2008	J Leman, football
    	Angela Bizzarri, track & field/cross country
    2009	Paul Ruggeri, gymnastics
    	Angela Bizzarri, track & field/cross country

    All-Time Illinois Newcomers of the Year

    1990	Steve Bridges, track & field/cross country
    	Peggy Pullman, gymnastics
    1991	Deon Thomas, basketball
    	Mandy Cunningham, basketball
    1992	Marko Koers, track & field
    	Becky Biehl, golf
    1993	Simeon Rice, football
    	Kirsten Gleis, volleyball
    1994	Jerry Turek, tennis
    	Nicole "Punti" Viernes, gymnastics
    1995	Robert Holcombe, football
    	Erin Borske, volleyball
    1996	Karl Roesler, wrestling
    	Kim Berres, gymnastics
    1997	Chris Jones, track & field
    	Cary Franklin, tennis
    	Tisha Ponder, track & field
    1998	Adam Tirapelle, wrestling
    	Aleisha Latimer, track & field
    1999	Cory Bradford, basketball
    	Jason Van Swol, track & field
    	Allison Curtin, basketball
    2000	Brandon Lloyd, football
    	Shavonna Hunter, basketball
    2001	Amer Delic, tennis
    	Phil Stolt, tennis
    	Jennifer McGaffigan, tennis
    	Susanna Kallur, track & field
    2002	Drew Davidson, baseball
    	Ashley Williams, gymnastics
    2003	Alex Tirapelle, wrestling
    	Rajeev Ram, tennis
    	Rachelle Coriddi, softball
    2004	E.B. Halsey, football
    	Cassie Hunt, track & field/cross country
    2005	Kevin Anderson, tennis
    	Macall Harkins, tennis
    2006	Kyle Hudson, football/baseball
    	Julie Crall, gymnastics
    2007	Gakologelwang Masheto, track & field
    	Angela Bizzarri, track & field/cross country
    2008	Arrelious Benn, football
    	Allison Buckley, gymnastics
    2009	Andrew Riley, track & field
    	Michelle Bartsch, volleyball

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