June 11, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Junior catcher Kevin Plawecki of baseball and junior outside hitter Ariel Turner of volleyball have been named Purdue's Athletes of the Year for the 2011-12 school year. They were selected by a vote of athletics department administrators from a pool of candidates made up of each sport's Most Valuable Player or similar designee.
Plawecki and Turner will now represent the Boilermakers in the voting for the Big Ten Conference Athlete of the Year awards. Plawecki is in the running for the Jesse Owens Male Big Ten Athlete of the Year award, and Turner is up for the Suzy Favor Female Big Ten Athlete of the Year award. The awards will be voted on by a panel of conference media and announced on the Big Ten Network at 7:30 p.m. ET on Monday, June 18.
Former Purdue diver David Boudia was the winner of the 2011 Jesse Owens Male Big Ten Athlete of the Year award.
Since the inception of the Purdue Athlete of the Year awards in 1982, Plawecki is the first baseball player to garner the men's honor. Turner represents the third volleyball winner of the female award, and the first since Marianne Smith in 1986.
It was a season of firsts for Plawecki and the Purdue baseball program. The Boilermakers won their first Big Ten title since 1909, claimed their first-ever Big Ten Tournament title, were selected to hosted an NCAA Regional for the first time and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1987. Purdue's 45 wins represented a program-record total and the most by a Big Ten team since 2008.
Plawecki was Purdue baseball's first Big Ten Player of the Year winner. After hitting a pair of go-ahead home runs at the event, he was also named the Most Outstanding Player of the Big Ten Tournament. He was fifth player since 1981 to sweep Big Ten Player/Pitcher of the Year and Tournament MOP in the same season. The catcher was also named Second Team All-America by Collegiate Baseball and selected as one of three finalists nationally for the Johnny Bench Award.
When he was selected 35th overall by the New York Mets in last week's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Plawecki became the first Big Ten player picked this year and the Boilers' third-highest draft pick in program history.
Plawecki led the Big Ten in doubles and (20) runs scored (54) this season while also batting .359 with seven home runs and 47 RBI. He started all 59 games, including 49 behind the plate. While calling his own game, he worked with a pitching staff that led the league in ERA and fewest walks allowed.
A two-time First Team All-Big Ten catcher, Plawecki was the most difficult batter to strike out in the Big Ten in each of his three seasons at Purdue. He fanned only 29 times in 638 career at-bats.
Turner is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, who received AVCA first team All-America honors and second team Academic All-America accolades. She ranked in the top six nationally in both kills per set (4.84) and points per set (5.46), also leading the Big Ten in both categories. Turner posted double-digit kills in 32 matches, including 20 or more nine times. She also picked up a league record-tying five Big Ten Player of the Week nods in 2011, while pacing the Boilermakers offensively and adding 2.43 digs per set, second most on the team.
The Highlands Ranch, Colo., native, also garnered Academic All-District V and Academic All-Big Ten honors while setting a Purdue season record for hitting attempts with 1682, snapping a mark set in 1979. Turner led the Boilermakers in kills 32 times, digs three times and blocks twice while also tallying the 1000th kill and 500th dig of her career.
With both athletic and academic All-America honors, Turner became volleyball's third double honoree along with Annette Bauer and Jane Neff. Bauer garnered first team GTE Academic All-America and honorable mention Volleyball Monthly/ASICS Tiger All-America honors in 1984, while Neff picked up both athletic and academic accolades in 1982 with first team GTE Academic All-America and third team Volleyball Monthly/ASICS Tiger All-America honors.
The mechanical engineering major is the seventh Purdue volleyball player to earn Academic All-America honors, and the first since Leah Wischmeier garnered second team accolades in 2004. The Highlands Ranch, Colo., native was one of only two Big Ten players among the 18 Academic All-America honorees along with Michigan State's Jenilee Rathje, who also earned second team accolades.
The Boilermakers advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fifth time since 2005 and finished the year with a 29-5 overall mark and 16-4 record in Big Ten play, both bests for the program since 1985. Purdue tied for second in the Big Ten, its best placing since 1987.
Recent Purdue Athlete of the Year Winners >>> Complete List
^Jesse Owens Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year winner
*Big Ten Suzy Favor Athlete of the Year winner
Male: Kevin Plawecki, Baseball
Female: Ariel Turner, Volleyball
Male: David Boudia^, Diving
Female: Numa Gulyanamitta, Golf
Male: David Boudia, Diving
Female: Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, Golf
Male: David Boudia, Diving
Female: Maria Hernandez*, Golf
Male: Dustin Keller, Football
Female: Maria Hernandez, Golf
Male: Anthony Spencer, Football
Female: Amanda Miller, Diving
Male: Giordan Pogioli, Swimming
Female: Onnarin Sattayabanphot, Golf
Male: Taylor Stubblefield, Football
Female: Carrie McCambridge, Diving