The University of Illinois announced on Thursday that Nicole Evans (softball) and Isaiah Martinez (wrestling) are the recipients of the 2016-17 Dike Eddleman Awards. The honors are presented annually to the top Fighting Illini female and male athlete, as voted on by Illinois head coaches, DIA executive staff members, and the DIA athletics awards committee.
Evans is the first member of the softball team to earn this recognition, and it was certainly well-deserved. The senior led Illinois in seven offensive categories on the year, including batting average (.349), slugging percentage (.775), on-base percentage (.471), RBIs (58), and home runs (18). Evans also earned First Team All-Big Ten and NFCA Third-Team All-American status for her performances.
Martinez is the eighth two-time winner and seventh repeat winner in the history of the male award. The star junior was the runner-up at the 2017 NCAA Championships, netting him All-American honors for the third straight year. He was also ranked No. 1 throughout the season in his weight category thanks to a 31-1 overall record.
As Fighting Illini Athletes of the Year, Evans and Martinez become Illinois' nominees for Big Ten Athlete of the Year honors, which will be announced next week.
The other finalists on the male side were Alex Diab (gymnastics), Malcolm Hill (basketball), David Kendziera (track), Dylan Lafond (cross country), Pat McInerney (baseball), Dylan Meyer (golf), and Aleks Vukic (tennis).
The female finalists were Ali Bastianelli (volleyball), Lizzy Leduc (gymnastics), Pedrya Seymour (track), and Slex Wittinger (basketball).