Jake Herbert immediately after defeating defending champ Mike
Pucillo of Ohio State 6-3 for the 184-pound title at the 2009
NCAAs. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Jake Herbert, two-time NCAA Division I 184-pound wrestling champ for Northwestern University, has been named the 2009 recipient of the Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year Award as the top male athlete across all sports in the Big Ten Conference.
Herbert becomes the third consecutive college wrestler to win this award, named for the African-American track star from Ohio State who made history at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In 2007, University of Minnesota heavyweight Cole Konrad earned the award; last year, Brent Metcalf of the University of Iowa was named conference male athlete of the year.
"This is such an honor and one that I never really imagined I could win, "Herbert said. "It's just great to be able to represent Northwestern wrestling and the entire athletic department so that everybody in the Big Ten and the rest of the country knows the amazing things that go on at this school."
This is just the latest honor for Herbert since winning his second NCAA title in March. The Northwestern senior was awarded the 2009 Dan Hodge Trophy, presented by WIN (Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine) to the best collegiate wrestler of the year. He also was named the 2009 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year, and Wrestler of the Year by the amateur wrestling website InterMat.
Herbert is the most decorated wrestler in Northwestern history, becoming only the second two-time NCAA champ for the Evanston, Illinois-based school (the other being Jack Riley, who won NCAA heavyweight titles for the Wildcats in 1931 and 1932). He is also the second Northwestern wrestler to be a four-time NCAA All-American, never having placed lower than third in his weight class at the national collegiate championships. In addition, Herbert won three Big Ten and Midlands titles. With a four-year record of 135-4 (including a 66-match win streak his last two years of college competition), Herbert leaves Northwestern with the fifth-best career winning percentage (.971) among all Division I college wrestlers since the 1974-75 season.
Since the conclusion of his college career, Herbert has also found considerable success in freestyle competition, winning his weight class at the U.S. Nationals in April, then, in May, earned a spot on the U.S. World Team that will compete at the World Championships in Denmark this September.
In addition to his stellar on-the-mat performance, Jake Herbert has been a star in the classroom as well. Earlier this month, the Wexford, Pennsylvania native was named to the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) All-Academic squad -- one of five out of ten 2009 NCAA champs, and one of 17 All-Americans out of a possible 80 to earn that recognition--for the second time in his career. He is also a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. This spring, Herbert graduated from Northwestern with a degree in communication studies.
Since the inception of the Jesse Owens Award in 1982, a total of seven wrestlers have earned this honor: Iowa's Ed Banach in 1983, Barry Davis in 1985, and Brent Metcalf in 2008; Matt Lackey of the University of Illinois "Champaign-Urbana in 2003; Minnesota's Damion Hahn in 2004 and Cole Konrad in 2007; and Herbert in 2009. In fact, the sport of wrestling can claim more Jesse Owens Award recipients than any other single sport.
via The Examiner