Aug. 24, 2008
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue athletics department gathered on Sunday, the night before the start of the fall semester, to kick off the school year with the annual Boilers Back in Action. The event serves as an initial introduction to the department for the incoming freshman class, while also helping to fire up the 18 Boilermaker varsity sports for the upcoming year and as a platform to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of various programs from the previous year.
"The beginning of the fall semester is an exciting time of year for the department," athletics director Morgan Burke said. "It's a nice opportunity to get everyone together all at one time and kickoff the year both on the field and in the classroom in the right way."
The department acknowledged nine teams from the 2007-08 school year for their outstanding efforts not only in competition, but in the classroom, as well.
Seven teams - volleyball, women's soccer, men's basketball, women's basketball, men's swimming and diving, women's indoor track and field and women's golf - were recognized as having 25/75 seasons last year by finishing nationally among the top 25 while maintaining a cumulative grade-point average that met or exceeded expectations over four consecutive semesters, thereby supporting Purdue's goal of reaching a 75 percent graduation rate.
"Achievement of athletic and academic excellence is embodied in our pursuit of having each team perform consistently in the top 25 athletically and attain a 75 percent department graduation rate," Burke said. "This award recognizes teams who have excelled in both areas during the prior year and are leading our efforts to join this prestigious group. Being part of the '25/75 Club' would put us with the top 5 to 10 schools."
Dave Shondell's volleyball program finished its 2007 season 19-14 overall and in third place in the Big Ten with a 11-9 mark. The Boilermakers appeared in a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round.
Under the direction of head coach Rob Klatte, the Purdue soccer program had a school-record 20-2-3 overall mark and an 8-1-1 conference record en route to a second-place regular-season finish in the Big Ten and the title at the league championship tournament. The program finished ranked 16th by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and ninth in the final Soccer Buzz poll.
Matt Painter's youthful men's hoops program took the nation by storm in posting a 25-9 overall record and 15-3 mark in the Big Ten. The men made a second straight NCAA postseason appearance and advanced to the second round.
The women's basketball team under Sharon Versyp made its 15th straight postseason appearance after compiling a 19-15 overall record, an 11-7 mark in the conference and winning the Big Ten Tournament championship for a second straight season. The women advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before bowing out.
The men's swimming and diving program under head coach Dan Ross placed 25th at the NCAA championships in Federal Way, Wash., and were 12th in the final collegeswimming.com poll. Individually, freshman diver David Colturi garnered All-America recognition after posting a third-place finish on the platform.
The women's indoor track and field team secured its highest finish since 2000 by placing 22nd at the 2008 championship meet. Pole vaulter Mallory Peck and thrower Astin Steward both took home All-America honors from the meet.
Devon Brouse's women's golf team capped off an outstanding spring season with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA championship in Albuquerque, N.M. The team carded a five under par 283 in the final round to improve from 10th to fourth on the last day.
Other programs recognized on Sunday included the women's swimming and diving program which was awarded the President's Cup as the program with the highest grade-point average last spring, and the men's cross country team which earned the Provost Award as the program with the most improved grade-point average from the previous semester.
Nine individual student-athletes were singled out in front of their peers on Sunday, as well.
The Durham Brothers Leadership Award, established by former football players John and Bull Durham and recognizing student-athletes that have exhibited exceptional leadership skills both in competition and in their personal lives, was presented to Jenna Alexander (softball), Leah Henniger (women's swimming and diving), Lauren Mioton (women's basketball), Patrick Rose (men's tennis), Nick Bertucci (wrestling) and Amy Burrell (soccer)
The Ben Korschot Perseverance Award, named after the former football walkon and given to student-athletes that have demonstrated perseverance by coming to Purdue as walkons and going on to earn scholarships, was presented to Christine Inman (women's swimming and diving), Nick Spohn (wrestling), Kelly Miller (softball) and Katie Seeger (soccer).