2018 Victors Awards predictions

2018 Victors Awards predictions

2018 Victors Awards predictions

By Eddie Garcia

NIU Athletics will host its ninth annual Victors Awards show Thursday to recognize the accomplishments of student-athletes from the spring, fall and winter of 2017 seasons.

Huskie fans are invited to get involved in the award ceremony festivities by voting for the “Play of the Year.” This category represents a student who had the top play of the season. Voting for the semifinalists will remain open on the NIU Athletics’ website until midnight May 1.

The top two plays will then be voted on through the @NIUAthletics Twitter page from noon to 7:30 p.m. May 3, and the winning play will be announced at “The Victors” ceremony, as well as the rest of the awards.

Here are the prospective winners who are predicted to take home some hardware at the Victors Awards show based on their student-athlete success.

Team of the Year (Female) — Track & Field

The Track & Field team definitely should earn top female Team of the Year after NIU tied for fifth at the Mid-American Conference Championship during the indoor season and placed fourth at the outdoor championship.

Four members of the team were named to the All-Academic team by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, which included Lorena Martin, Hope Schmelzle-Hoffman, Ali Olson and Carly Pederson.

Schmelzle-Hoffman made her mark on school history after becoming NIU’s first NCAA women’s track and field All-American.

All together, the track & field team definitely stamped their way as best female team on campus.

Team of the Year (Male) — Men’s Tennis

The Men’s Tennis team has earned the right to be team of the year after reaching the MAC tournament semifinals for the second consecutive year.

The Huskies posted a 15-8 overall record and dominated at home going 9-1 on the season. They finished conference play with a 5-2 record but just fell short in the MAC tournament semifinals losing to the University of Buffalo 4-3.

Their record, style of play and season success should land them as the top male team on campus.

Coach of the Year (Female) — Gymnastics Head Coach Sam Morreale

Morreale deserves to be the Coach of the year based on his team’s historical success this season with seniors Ashley Potts, Katherine Prentice and junior gymnast Anna Martucci leading the team into the record books on multiple occasions.

Potts set all-time records eight times, Prentice set four all-time records and Martucci scored a 9.975 on the floor March 4, the highest score recorded for the Huskies in over two decades.

Martucci was named MAC Specialist of the year as she also joined Prentice and Potts on All-MAC teams and as NCAA Regional qualifiers.

Overall, Morreale implemented an abundance of confidence in his team as they finished second in the MAC Championship with a score of 195.875. This was the gymnastics teams’ highest finish all time at the MAC Championship.

Coach of the Year (Male) — Football Head Coach Rod Carey

Carey went from being in the hot seat to beating Big-10 Nebraska Sept. 16 and reaching his fifth bowl game since coming into the lead role in 2013.

The Huskies finished the 2017 season with an 8-5, 6-2 MAC record and were led primarily by their work on the defensive end.

Carey rallied his team together as it was led by the work of the consensus All-American Sutton Smith, redshirt sophomore defensive end, who accumulated 14 sacks, breaking former NIU standout and retired NFL player Larry English’s old record of 13 from 2006.

NIU’s defense as a whole ranked eighth in the nation in yards, giving up 4.6 per play, according to ESPN.

His work as head coach in 2017 makes him the best candidate for coach of the year.

Athlete of the Year (Female) — Courtney Woods, women’s basketball junior guard

Woods should earn the Athlete of the Year recognition after a career year as a Huskie.

She finished the 2017-18 regular season off with 640 points, 87 3-point field goals and 225 rebounds. The MAC Player of the Year candidate completed her junior season as the conference leading scorer and the No. 10 leading scorer in the nation.

The junior guard currently ranks No. 10 on NIU’s all-time scoring list with 1,520 points.

If Woods can have a repeat year in the 2018-19 season, she would finish as the No. 2 leading scorer in school history.

Athlete of the Year (Male) — Sutton Smith

Smith arguably became the most decorated defender in school history after adding to his impressive resume as a Huskie.

Smith won the Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and he was a consensus All-American. He led the nation in tackles for loss, had 14 sacks to tie for the national lead, and his 87 quarterback pressures led the nation by a wide margin.

His 2017 campaign seems to have him as a lock for Male Athlete of the Year.

His success in 2017 makes him the best candidate for male athlete of the year.

Huskie Comeback — Paulina Castro, women’s basketball redshirt freshman guard

Castro battled back from an unexpected journey after she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer that attacks the immune system, in December of 2016.

Less than a year later, her teammates and fans were able to cheer for her from the sidelines as she played in the first exhibition game against Benedictine University Nov 4.

Castro went on to start in eight games for the Huskies and made 23 overall appearances. The redshirt freshman averaged just over 12 minutes per game at the point guard position.

Castro undoubtedly has earned the 2018 Huskie Comeback Award.

Top Play of the Year — Anna Martucci’s historic floor score

Martucci’s outstanding school record of 9.975 on the floor in NIU’s 195.725-194.400 win March 4 over Western Michigan at home definitely earns the Top Play of the Year.

Martucci’s nearly perfect routine should be the top play of the year simply because of the rarity of this type of scoring performance.

She should be awarded for doing something that very few have done in school history, especially in regards to this specific sport.

All of these awards are judged by administrators, staff, student athletes and coaches.

Check out if these predictions matchup as the Victors award ceremony is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Sandburg Auditorium.