With NCAA titles on their resumes, Zain Retherford and Raquel Rodriguez were named Penn State’s Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year on Tuesday.
The honor puts the pair on the ballot to be the Big Ten’s Athletes of the Year, along with the winners from the conference’s 13 other institutions.
The honors follow a spectacular 12 months for both.
Rodriguez helped the Nittany Lion women’s soccer team to its first national championship in December with a 1-0 win over Duke. The Nittany Lions didn’t surrender a goal during the entire NCAA tournament. She later was honored with the MAC Hermann Trophy and the Honda Sports Award for soccer, given to the national player of the year. She is one of 12 finalists for the Honda Collegiate Woman of the Year, which will be announced later this month.
The midfielder also was a first-team All-American, was named the NCAA tournament’s Most Outstanding Player on Offense of the Women's College Cup and an NSCAA Scholar Player of the Year. Drafted by Sky Blue FC of the National Women's Soccer League, she finished her career with 23 goals and 28 assists. Last summer, she scored the first goal in her nation’s history at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Retherford was both an individual NCAA champion at 149 pounds and helped the Nittany Lion wrestling team to its fifth national crown in six seasons. He ended his sophomore season with his second All-American honor after posting a 33-0 record with 15 pins. He also was the Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and was the NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler of the Year.
He placed third at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and earned at spot on the U.S. Freestyle World Team, and picked up NWCA First Team National All-Academic. Retherford is the fifth straight wrestler to be named Penn State’s Male Athlete of the Year, following David Taylor (2012, 2014), Ed Ruth (2013) and Matt Brown (2015).