Illinois Athletics has announced that Tyler Jay (baseball) and Stephanie Richartz (Track & Field) have been named the 2014-15 Dike Eddleman Athletes of the Year. As you've probably guessed, the awards are presented annually to Illinois' top male and female athlete.
Jay had a spectacular junior season with the Illini. The Big Ten Pitcher of the Year set a school record with 14 saves in 66.2 innings of work while logging the nation's third-best ERA (1.08). He was voted a consensus First Team All-American and was selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins. Jay is the second baseball player in the last three years to receive this honor (Justin Parr, 2013).
"This is an awesome honor because of how many great athletes there are on this campus. It is definitely very special, and I wouldn't be here without my teammates, coaching staff, family and friends. They put me in the position to get where I am and I can't thank them enough. I was just a piece of the puzzle here because it's a team game and I will never forget this memorable season."
~ Tyler Jay
On the women's side, Stephanie Richartz became the track & field program's 11th recipient of the award in the last 15 years. The senior broke school and conference pole vault records in 2015 and she also set the Big Ten Indoor Championships record (14 feet, 7-1/4 inches) to win a gold medal. Richartz matched her record mark at the Outdoor Championships to take third place overall at the event.
"This is the perfect way to top off the phenomenal career I have had here, especially coming from a walk-on my freshman year. To come back with such high goals after performing at a high level before being injured last year, it's been really rewarding to be able to excel at the same rate, kind of like I never missed a beat. I feel like there is no better way to end my collegiate career than being named the Dike Eddelman Female Athlete of the Year, and I want to thank everyone involved for helping make this happen, my family, coaches and teammates."
~ Stephanie Richartz