June 18, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan Athletic Department announced today (Monday, June 18) that senior rower Felice Mueller (Cleveland Heights, Ohio/Pomfret School, Conn.) and senior wrestler Kellen Russell (High Bridge, N.J./Blair Academy HS) have been named the Michigan Athletes of the Year. This is the second straight year that Russell has earned the top male athletic honor, and Mueller is the first rower to earn the honor for a female athlete.
"Felice and Kellen competed at a high level in both their athletic competitions and in the classroom," said Dave Brandon, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics. "Kellen won an individual national title and Felice led the rowing team to a runner-up finish at the national championship. Not only are they terrific athletes, both graduated from the University of Michigan and have earned academic honors along the way. Felice and Kellen are most deserving of the female and male athlete of the year awards."
Russell is the sixth Michigan athlete to win back-to-back athlete of the year honors and just the second male. The other two-time winners are: Tom Dolan, men's swimming (1995-96); Ann Colloton, women's swimming (1989-90); Sarah Griffin, softball (1996, '98); Jennie Ritter, softball (2005-06); Tiffany Ofili, women's track (2008-09). Last season, Russell shared the award for male athlete of the year with NCAA all-around champion Sam Mikulak (Corona del Mar, Calif./Corona del Mar HS) from the men's gymnastics team.
Mueller led the women's rowing team to a second-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Championships, tying for its highest finish in program history. It was also the best team finish for any Wolverine squad this season. Individually, Mueller earned College Rowing Coaches Association Pocock All-America first team honors and was named the Big Ten Rower of the Year after leading the Wolverines to the conference championship. She earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades for the third straight season.
Russell won his second consecutive 141-pound national title at the 2012 NCAA Championships, claiming the crown with a takedown in overtime. In addition to the NCAA title, he was named the co-Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Big Ten Championships after becoming the 11th wrestler in conference history and the first Michigan athlete to win four Big Ten titles. Russell also excelled off the mat, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors and selection to the NWCA All-Academic team. He was named the Detroit Athletic Club's 2012 Male College Athlete of the Year.
Following are biographical sketches on Mueller and Russell:
Michigan Female Athlete of the Year
Senior Felice Mueller helped lead the University of Michigan women's rowing team to one of the best seasons in program history in 2012, earning the Big Ten Conference title and a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships.
Mueller's first varsity eight boat rowed to a second-place finish at the national championship regatta in late May, propelling the team to a second-place finish overall and tying for the best finish in program history (2001). Mueller also led the 1V8 boat to the Big Ten title, a win which secured the team Big Ten championship for the Wolverines, their conference-leading fifth league crown and the program's first since 2004.
Mueller was recognized with several individual accolades for her performance this season, including first team All-America and first team All-Central Region from the Collegiate Rowing Coaches of America. Mueller earned first team All-Big Ten honors and was named the 2012 Big Ten Athlete of the Year for rowing.
The Cleveland Heights, Ohio, native recently graduated from Michigan's School of Art and Design and earned her third Academic All-Big Ten award.
She also is a decorated international rower, winning goal medals for the U.S. in the Under-23 pair event in 2010 and 2011. Mueller and her partner set a world-record time of 7:14.07 in 2010, only to break their record in 2011 with a time of 7:05.13.
Michigan Male Athlete of the Year
Fifth-year senior Kellen Russell capped his collegiate career with his second straight NCAA title in 2012, posting a near-perfect 33-1 record against a tough national field at 141 pounds.
Russell became the sixth wrestler in U-M program history to capture multiple NCAA titles with a 6-4 overtime victory against Iowa's Montell Marion in the championship match. After trading one takedown and two escapes apiece through the match's first seven minutes, Russell countered a shot midway through the sudden-victory frame, stuffing the head before spinning around behind to wrap up the Hawkeye and bring him to the mat and end the bout with 23 seconds on the clock.
The Wolverine captain also defeated Marion, 7-2, in the 141-pound Big Ten Championships final, becoming just the 11th four-time Big Ten champion in conference history and the first in Michigan history. Russell was named the co-Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships.
Russell's lone loss of the season came against Ohio State's Hunter Stieber in the quarterfinals of the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in early December. Russell avenged that setback to Stieber with a 5-2 decision in the NCAA semifinal round. The Wolverine won his final 26 matches of the season and claimed 71 of 72 matches over his junior and senior campaigns.
A physical education major, Russell completed his student teaching during the fall 2011 semester. He earned Academic All-Big Ten honors and was selected to the NWCA All-Academic team. He also was named the Detroit Athletic Club's Male College Athlete of the Year and was selected as U-M's recipient of the Cliff Keen Most Outstanding Wrestler and Steve Fraser Mental Toughness awards for the second straight year.
Russell completed his collegiate career with a 134-12 record, tying for eighth place on Michigan's all-time wins list. His career win percentage of .918 ranks second in program history.
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