NU 17th in NACDA Cup
University of Nebraska athletic programs continued to rise on a national scale during a successful 2009-10 campaign. The Huskers finished the year ranked 17th in the final NACDA Directors Cup all-sport standings, their highest overall finish since taking 13th in 2000-01.
Nebraska's competitive success included nine top-16 national finishes across its 23 varsity sport programs. NU had 15 teams advance to NCAA Tournament action in 2009-10, and the Husker football team won a 2009 Holiday Bowl crown. Coach Bill Straub's bowling team produced an NCAA runner-up finish, while National Coach-of-the-Year Connie Yori's women's basketball team finished fourth in the Associated Press Top 25 – the best showing in school history. Coach John Cook's tradition-rich volleyball program added a No. 5 final national ranking, while Coach Morgan Hicks' rifle team finished sixth at the 2010 NCAA Championships. Coach Dan Kendig's women's gymnastics team added a seventh-place NCAA finish, while first-year coach Chuck Chmelka's men's gymnastics program rounded out NU's six top-10 team finishes by placing ninth.
Big 12 Coach-of-the-Year Scott Jacobson also helped the women's tennis make history by leading the Huskers to their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. Coach Kerry McDermott also enjoyed a history-making season by leading the Husker men's tennis team to its first-ever berth in the NCAA Championships.
At the conference level, Coach Bo Pelini's football program won the Big 12 North title to advance to the league title game. Yori, the Big 12 Coach of the Year, led the NU women's basketball program to the best season in school history that included a Big 12-record tying 30-game winning streak and a perfect 16-0 league season to claim the conference crown. Big 12 Men's Outdoor Coach-of-the-Year Gary Pepin also led the track and field team to the 101st conference track title in school history.
In addition to the conference-title winning team efforts, the Nebraska women's gymnastics team added a league runner-up finish, while the men's indoor and women's outdoor track and field teams added second-place finishes of their own. The women's tennis team contributed a third-place conference finish, as did the women's indoor track and field squad.
Individually, Nebraska student-athletes also achieved at the highest levels in several sports. All-American Ndamukong Suh became one of the most decorated defensive players in college football history, while powering the Huskers to a 10-win season on the gridiron. Suh, who became the first defensive player in history to earn Associated Press National Player-of-the-Year honors, captured the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award while being named a Heisman Trophy finalist. The defensive tackle from Portland, Ore., also became the first Husker to win both the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik awards as the nation's top defensive player, before being selected with the No. 2 overall pick of the Detroit Lions in the 2010 NFL Draft.
All-American Kelsey Griffin also claimed national headlines while leading the women's basketball team to a record-setting season. The 6-2 forward from Eagle River, Alaska, was a finalist for every major national player-of-the-year award and became Nebraska's first-ever winner across all sports of the prestigious Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, recognizing her success in competition, in the classroom and in the community. The 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year became just the second Husker in history to score more than 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds while capturing the third first-team all-conference accolade of her career. She was a unanimous first-team All-American and picked No. 3 overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft. The 2010 Nebraska Female Student-Athlete of the Year is midway through her first season with the Connecticut Sun.
All-American Cassandra Leuthold also captured 2010 National Player-of-the-Year honors while leading Coach Bill Straub's Husker bowlers to an NCAA runner-up finish. Leuthold, a senior from Black Hawk, S.D., was named the Most Outstanding Player while leading the Huskers to the 2009 NCAA title and was the 2007 National Rookie of the Year, when she helped NU to a third-place finish.
Overall 29 Nebraska student-athletes captured 33 All-America awards in their respective sports, including NCAA 197-pound runner-up Craig Brester. The senior wrestler from Howells, Neb., helped Coach Mark Manning's team to a 12th-place finish at the NCAA Championships before being named Nebraska's Male Student-Athlete of the Year.
A testament of NU's national recruiting power, the Huskers' 29 All-Americans came to Nebraska from 13 states and three foreign countries. The state of Nebraska produced five All-Americans and five more came from the Big Ten region (Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota). Four All-Americans came from Texas and three more from Missouri. Across the board, the future looks bright for Nebraska's athletic programs. Among NU's 29 All-Americans in 2009-10, 20 were underclassmen who are expected to return in 2010-11.
Nebraska's 2009-10 Athletic All-Americans
(29 Athletes/33 Total Awards/22 First-Team Awards)
- Sydney Anderson, Junior, Salt Lake City, Utah, Volleyball (3rd Team)
- Craig Brester, Senior, Howells, Neb., Wrestling (1st Team – NCAA 197-Pound Runner-up)
- Epley Bullock, Senior, Allen, Texas, Women's Track & Field (1st Team – Indoor & Outdoor High Jump)
- Bobby Carter, Freshman, Lee's Summit, Mo., Men's Track & Field (1st, Outdoor Long Jump)
- Kori Cooper, Senior, Amarillo, Texas, Volleyball (Honorable-Mention)
- Brooke Delano, Bellevue, Neb., Sophomore, Volleyball (2nd Team)
- Janine Dutton, Eagle River, Alaska, Sophomore, Rifle (2nd Team)
- Stephen Dwyer, Senior, Rockton, Ill., Wrestling (1st Team, 4th, 174 Pounds)
- Lora Evenstad, Sophomore, Grand Forks, N.D., Women's Gymnastics (1st Team, Vault; 2nd Team, Floor)
- Lehann Fourie, Junior, Pretoria, South Africa, Men's Track & Field (1st Team, 60 Hurdles-Indoor, 110 Hurdles-Outdoor)
- Janelle Giblin, Freshman, San Ramon, Calif., Women's Gymnastics (2nd Team, Bars)
- Nicholas Gordon, Junior, Kingston, Jamaica, Men's Track & Field (1st Team, Outdoor Long Jump)
- Kelsey Griffin, Senior, Eagle River, Alaska, Women's Basketball (1st Team)
- Paul Hamilton, Junior, Sidney, Neb., Men's Track & Field (1st Team, Indoor & Outdoor High Jump)
- Tyler Hitchler, Sophomore, Fremont, Neb., Men's Track & Field (1st Team, Discus)
- Kathryn Howard, Senior, Houston, Texas, Women's Gymnastics (2nd Team, Bars)
- Anthony Ingrelli, Junior, West Allis, Wis., Men's Gymnastics (1st Team, Still Rings)
- Cassandra Leuthold, Senior, Black Hawk, S.D., Bowling (1st Team, NCAA Player of the Year)
- Leandra McGruder, Senior, Jefferson City, Mo., Women's Track & Field (1st Team, Indoor Triple Jump)
- Chantae McMillan, Junior, Rolla, Mo., Women's Track & Field (1st Team, Heptathlon)
- Kassandra Nathe, Sophomore, Sartell, Minn., Women's Gymnastics (2nd Team, Bars)
- Chris Phipps, Sophomore, Patterson, N.J., Men's Track & Field (1st Team, Outdoor Long Jump)
- Maria Scaffidi, Junior, Hartland, Wis., Women's Gymnastics (2nd Team, Floor)
- Brittany Skinner, Freshman, Los Altos, Calif., Women's Gymnastics (1st Team, Vault)
- Ndamukong Suh, Senior, Portland, Ore., Football (1st Team, Outland, Lombardi, Nagurski, Bednarik awards)
- Audrey Svane, Junior, Tioga, Texas, Women's Track & Field (1st Team, Indoor High Jump)
- Hannah Werth, Freshman, Springfield, Ill., Volleyball (Honorable-Mention)
- Natalie Willer, Junior, Elkhorn, Neb., Women's Track & Field (1st Team, Outdoor Pole Vault)
- Adam Wolkins, Junior, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, Canada, Men's Track & Field (1st Team, Javelin)