June 23, 2014
MGoBlue.com Awards | Michigan Athletes of the Year
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan Athletic Department announced today (Monday, June 23) that senior men's swimmer Connor Jaeger (Fair Haven, N.J./Rumson-Fair Haven) and senior women's gymnast Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) have been named the 2013-14 Michigan Male and Female Athletes of the Year. Both student-athletes are receiving the honor for the second consecutive year.
Connor Jaeger (L) and Joanna Sampson
Since the award's inception in 1982, only six individuals have been named Michigan's Athletes of the Year more than once: Ann Colloton (women's swimming and diving -- 1989-90), Tom Dolan (men's swimming and diving -- 1995-96), Sara Griffin (softball -- 1996, 1998), Jennie Ritter (softball -- 2005-06), Tiffany Ofili (women's track and field -- 2008-09) and Kellen Russell (wrestling -- 2011-12). Both student-athletes are eligible to be named Big Ten Conference Athletes of the Year, the winners of which are determined by a media vote.
Jaeger, one of three senior captains on the men's swimming and diving team, helped guide Michigan to its fourth consecutive Big Ten championship and a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Individually, Jaeger was strong once again in the pool, repeating as national champion in the 1,650-yard freestyle and earning three NCAA All-America honors. He also won three Big Ten titles (two individual, one relay), while helping set an NCAA record as part of the 800-yard freestyle relay team back in February. He was named Big Ten Men's Swimmer of the Year for the second consecutive year and was also again named Michigan Male College Athlete of the Year by the prestigious Detroit Athletic Club. In the classroom, Jaeger was an Academic All-Big Ten selection for the third time and was named a first team CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-American.
Like Jaeger, Sampson was one of three senior captains this year, leading the women's gymnastics team to Big Ten and NCAA Regional championships and another top-10 finish at the NCAA Championships. She was one of the nation's best workers on floor exercise, winning Big Ten and NCAA Regional titles, while finishing second in that event at the NCAA Championships. Sampson was a three-time NCAA All-American this season, earning first team honors in the all-around, on uneven bars and floor exercise. She also captured the Big Ten title on uneven bars. One of the nation's strongest gymnasts, Sampson was named the NCAA Northeast Region Gymnast of the Year for the second consecutive season, while also being named a finalist for the 2014 AAI Award, given annually to the nation's top senior women's gymnast. She was named an Academic All-Big Ten selection for the first time in her career and will also receive NACGC/W Scholastic All-America honors.
Both Athlete of the Year winners are recipients of endowed scholarships. Jaeger is the Jon C. Urbanchek Endowed Scholarship recipient, and Sampson received the Donald R. Shepherd Women's Gymnastics Scholarship.
Following are biographical sketches on Jaeger and Sampson:
Michigan Male Athlete of the Year
Over the last four years, few collegiate swimmers have accomplished more both in and out of the water than the University of Michigan's Connor Jaeger. Arguably one of the best swimmers in the storied 93-year history of the program, Jaeger departs as a three-time national champion, nine-time Big Ten individual or relay champion and 10-time NCAA All-American, but more important to him are the accomplishments of his team, which won four Big Ten team titles and one national title during his time in Ann Arbor.
One of three senior captains this past season, Jaeger continued to show why he's one of the best distance swimmers in the world, repeating as national champion in the 1,650-yard freestyle, the longest and most grueling of the sport's races on the collegiate stage. He was a three-time NCAA All-American this season, earning the honor in that race, as well as in the 500-yard freestyle and as part of the 800-yard freestyle relay. He also received an NCAA All-America Honorable Mention in the 200-yard freestyle. As a team, Michigan finished fourth, its third consecutive top-five finish at the NCAA Championships.
Jaeger also captained the Wolverines to its fourth consecutive Big Ten title, which was won it his home pool of Canham Natatorium. He defended his titles in the 500-yard freestyle and 1,650-yard freestyle, and was also part of the winning 800-yard freestyle relay team that set a new NCAA record. He was given first team All-Big Ten honors and was one of the highest point-scorers at the four-day meet.
He also continued to shine in the classroom, where he was named a first team Academic All-American by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), while receiving Academic All-Big Ten honors for the third consecutive year. For his efforts in and out of the water, Jaeger was named Big Ten Men's Swimmer of the Year and Michigan Male College Athlete of the Year (by the Detroit Athletic Club) each for the second consecutive year.
Jaeger will remain in Ann Arbor to complete his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and continue training with Club Wolverine in advance of the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Michigan Female Athlete of the Year
Following a breakout junior campaign a year ago, Joanna Sampson maintained her place as one of the nation's top collegiate gymnasts during her senior season this year. One of three senior captains, Sampson led the University of Michigan women's gymnastics team to a fantastic season that included the Big Ten championship (its first since 2011), an NCAA Regional title and a top-10 finish at the NCAA Championships.
Individually, Sampson was sharp, hitting an astounding 98 percent of her routines (52 of 53) and averaging 39.423 in the all-around, putting her among the top ten gymnasts in the country based on averages. She was one of six national finalists for the 2014 AAI Award, the sport's Heisman Trophy that is given annually to the nation's top senior collegiate gymnast.
One of the highlights of the team's season came at the Big Ten Championships, where Sampson scored a perfect 10.0 on floor exercise, the first of her career and first for the team on any event in three seasons. Additionally, Sampson became the first gymnast in Big Ten history to record a 10.0 on floor exercise at the Big Ten Championships (a feat later equaled by Nebraska's Emily Wong) and was the first gymnast in Michigan history to record a 10.0 on floor exercise in the postseason. During the team's postseason run, Sampson won or tied for two Big Ten titles (floor exercise, uneven bars) and one NCAA Regional title (floor exercise), while coming incredibly close to repeating as national champion on floor exercise, being surpassed by Arkansas' Katherine Grable on the final routine during the NCAA's Individual Event Finals on the last day of the season.
For her efforts, Sampson was named NCAA Northeast Gymnast of the Year for the second consecutive year and was once again named to the All-Big Ten first team. She also had one of her best years in the classroom, picking up Academic All-Big Ten and NACGC/W Scholastic All-America honors for the first time in her career.