Ben Askren Named Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year

7/6/2007 7:41:00 PM

Missouri Wrestler Honored By Conference

Columbia, Mo. ?Ben Askren (Hartland, Wis.), Missouri?s two-time wrestling National Champion and 2007 graduate, was named Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year as announced today by the conference office. Joining Askren is Nebraska volleyball player Sarah Pavan as Big 12 Female Athlete of the Year. Askren becomes the first Tiger to earn conference Athlete of the Year honors since men?s basketball player Anthony Peeler was recognized for his work in the Big Eight Conference during the 1991-92 season.

?I feel honored to win such a prestigious award,? Askren said. ?It encompasses so many great athletes in the Big 12 Conference. This is a great culmination to my athletic career at the University of Missouri.?

Throughout the course of his senior campaign, the 174-pound grappler continuously pushed himself to excel on the mat and in the classroom. Askren claimed six tournament titles including his third Big 12 medal and fourth All-America honor. In addition, Askren was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and Southern Scuffle as well as being awarded the Gorarrian Award for most pins recorded at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

Recording a perfect 42-0 mark as a senior, the Tiger captain set a high standard for future Missouri wrestlers. Now atop the record books with 91 career pins, 29 falls in a season (2006-07) and 153 career victories, Askren also recorded the longest Missouri consecutive win streak at 87, dating back to the start of his junior campaign. As a senior, 23 of Askren?s 42 matches were decided in the first period by way of fall.

Capping off the 2006-07 campaign by earning his second national title, Askren became Missouri?s first four-time wrestling All-American. Askren?s dominating style on the mat also helped him earn his second Dan Hodge Trophy, wrestling?s equivalent to the Heisman, and second Wade Schalles Award for most falls in the season. On June 25, Askren received his first ESPY nomination in the category of Best Male College Athlete. One of four finalists, the winner will be announced Sunday, July 15, at 8 p.m. (CT) on ESPN.

?Ben goal was always to dominate in the sport of college wrestling,? Missouri wrestling Head Coach Brian Smith said. ?For Ben to receive this award over so many other well qualified athletes is a testament to the amazing performance he gave day-in and day-out this past season.?

Askren, named Missouri?s voluntary assistant coach for the upcoming 2007-08 Tiger wrestling season, becomes the first grappler since Iowa State?s Cael Sanderson to earn the title of Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year. Sanderson received the award for his performance during the 2001-02 season.