Ohio State's Chase Young, Wisconsin's Dana Rettke Chosen Big Ten's Top Athletes

Tom Brew

ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Big Ten Conference announced its two Athlete of the Year winners on Thursday, and the awards went to Ohio State junior defensive end Chase Young and Wisconsin junior middle blocker Dana Rettke.

Indiana's nominees for the award were Jack Maher from men's soccer and Ali Patberg from women's basketball. 

A team captain for Ohio State in 2019, Young earned six major individual awards while helping the Buckeyes to their third consecutive Big Ten title and a berth in the College Football Playoff national semifinals at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. He led the nation in quarterback sacks (16.5) and sacks per game (1.38) while finishing second in tackles-for-loss (21.5) and TFLs per game (1.8).

The Upper Marlboro, Md., native was named the Big Ten’s Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year, the conference’s Smith-Brown Defensive Linemen of the Year and was the recipient of the Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award. In addition, Young was just the ninth defensive player out of 159 total finalists since 1982 to be selected as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

On the national level, Young won both the Bednarik Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, both of which recognize the nation’s outstanding defensive player, and the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s top defensive end. He was a unanimous All-American and the nucleus of a defense that finished ranked No. 1 in total defense (259.7 yards per game), No. 2 in passing yardage (156.0 yards per game), red zone scores (66 pct.) and pass efficiency (97.50) and No. 4 in scoring (13.7 points per game).

In three years as a Buckeye, Young played in 38 games and earned 23 starts. His career total of 31.0 sacks is second-most in program history, behind only Mike Vrabel (36.0 from 1993-96).

A criminology and criminal justice major, Young announced in January that he would forgo his senior season and enter the 2020 NFL Draft. Last month, he was the second overall selection by the Washington Redskins.

Rettke is the first Wisconsin student to be named Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year since 1997, when track & field standout Kathy Butler shared the honor with Minnesota swimmer Gretchen Hegener. Rettke also is the fourth volleyball student to earn the award, and the first since Penn State’s Megan Hodge in 2010.

Rettke helped lead the Badgers to the 2019 NCAA national championship match and earned her third consecutive selection as a first-team All-American (2017, 2018, 2019). The 2019 Big Ten Player of the Year, Rettke was also selected to both the 2019 NCAA Championship All-Tournament team and 2019 NCAA Regional All-Tournament team.

Originally from Riverdale, Ill., Rettke competed with the U.S. National Team during the summer of 2019, winning the Volleyball Nations League and qualifying for the 2020 (now 2021) Tokyo Olympics. She also was a finalist for both the 2020 AAU James E. Sullivan Award and 2019 Honda Sports Award.

Rettke is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection who is working towards her marketing degree and a certificate in education studies at Wisconsin.

Young and Rettke were among a field of nominees that included three national champions, 23 All-Americans, 11 Big Ten champions, 11 conference Players of the Year and two who collected a national player of the year accolade.

Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year Winners

  • 1982 — Jim Spivey, Indiana, cross country/track & field
  • 1983 — Ed Banach, Iowa, wrestling
  • 1984 — Sunder Nix, Indiana, track & field
  • 1985 — Barry Davis, Iowa, wrestling
  • 1986 — Chuck Long, Iowa, football
  • 1987 — Steve Alford, Indiana, basketball
  • 1988 — Jim Abbott, Michigan, baseball
  • 1989 — Glen Rice, Michigan, basketball
  • 1990 — Anthony Thompson, Indiana, football
  • 1991 — Mike Barrowman, Michigan, swimming
  • 1992 — Desmond Howard, Michigan, football
  • 1993 — John Roethlisberger, Minnesota, gymnastics
  • 1994 — Glenn Robinson, Purdue, basketball
  • 1995 — Tom Dolan, Michigan, swimming
  • 1996 — Eddie George, Ohio State, football
  • 1997 — Blaine Wilson, Ohio State, gymnastics
  • 1998 — Charles Woodson, Michigan, football
  • 1999 — Luke Donald, Northwestern, golf
  • 2000 — Ron Dayne, Wisconsin, football
  • 2001 — Ryan Miller, Michigan State, ice hockey
  • 2002 — Jordan Leopold, Minnesota, ice hockey
  • 2003 — Amer Delic, Illinois, tennis/Matt Lackey, Illinois, wrestling
  • 2004 — Damion Hahn, Minnesota, wrestling
  • 2005 — Luis Vargas, Penn State, gymnastics
  • 2006 — Peter Vanderkaay, Michigan, swimming
  • 2007 — Cole Konrad, Minnesota, wrestling
  • 2008 — Brent Metcalf, Iowa, wrestling
  • 2009 — Jake Herbert, Northwestern, wrestling
  • 2010 — Evan Turner, Ohio State, basketball
  • 2011 — David Boudia, Purdue, diving
  • 2012 — Draymond Green, Michigan State, basketball
  • 2013 — Derek Drouin, Indiana, track & field
  • 2014 — David Taylor, Penn State, wrestling
  • 2015 — Logan Stieber, Ohio State, wrestling
  • 2016 — Denzel Valentine, Michigan State, basketball
  • 2017 — Kyle Snyder, Ohio State, wrestling
  • 2018 — Kyle Snyder, Ohio State, wrestling
  • 2019 — Bo Nickal, Penn State, wrestling
  • 2020 — Chase Young, Ohio State, football

Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year Winners

  • 1983 — Judi Brown, Michigan State, track & field
  • 1984 — Lisa Ishikawa, Northwestern, softball
  • 1985 — Cathy Branta, Wisconsin, cross country/track & field
  • 1986 — Stephanie Herbst, Wisconsin, cross country/track & field
  • 1987 — Jennifer Averill, Northwestern, field hockey/lacrosse
  • 1988 — Suzy Favor, Wisconsin, cross country/track & field
  • 1989 — Suzy Favor, Wisconsin, cross country/track & field
  • 1990 — Suzy Favor, Wisconsin, cross country/track & field
  • 1991 — Julie Farrell-Ovenhouse, Michigan State, diving/Joy Holmes, Purdue, basketball
  • 1992 — MaChelle Joseph, Purdue, basketball
  • 1993 — Lara Hooiveld, Michigan, swimming
  • 1994 — Kristy Gleason, Iowa, field hockey
  • 1995 — Laura Davis, Ohio State, volleyball
  • 1996 — Olga Kalinovskaya, Penn State, fencing
  • 1997 — Kathy Butler, Wisconsin, track & field/Gretchen Hegener, Minnesota, swimming
  • 1998 — Sara Griffin, Michigan, softball
  • 1999 — Stephanie White-McCarty, Purdue, basketball
  • 2000 — Lauren Cacciamani, Penn State, volleyball
  • 2001 — Katie Douglas, Purdue, basketball
  • 2002 — Christie Welsh, Penn State, soccer
  • 2003 — Perdita Felicien, Illinois, track & field
  • 2004 — Kelly Mazzante, Penn State, basketball
  • 2005 — Jennie Ritter, Michigan, softball
  • 2006 — Tiffany Weimer, Penn State, soccer
  • 2007 — Jessica Davenport, Ohio State, basketball
  • 2008 — Hannah Nielsen, Northwestern, lacrosse
  • 2009 — Maria Hernandez, Purdue, golf
  • 2010 — Megan Hodge, Penn State, volleyball
  • 2011 — Shannon Smith, Northwestern, lacrosse
  • 2012 — Christina Manning, Ohio State, track & field
  • 2013 — Amanda Kessel, Minnesota, ice hockey 
  • 2014 — Dani Bunch, Purdue, track & field
  • 2015 — Taylor Cummings, Maryland, lacrosse
  • 2016 — Rachel Banham, Minnesota, basketball 
  • 2017 — Lilly King, Indiana, swimming
  • 2018 — Lilly King, Indiana, swimming
  • 2019 — Megan Gustafson, Iowa, basketball
  • 2020 — Dana Rettke, Wisconsin, volleyball
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