EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The UW-Eau Claire Athletics program has announced this year's class of Blugold Super Six Salute award winners. The recipients will be honored at the Hall of Fame banquet Saturday, September 24.
The winners of the university's highest athletics honor are:
Thomas Breitbach (Muskego, Wis.) - men's track & field/cross country
Kristin Faber (Austin, Minn.) - women's hockey
Margaret Ho (Wisconsin Rapids, Wis./Lincoln) - women's cross country/track & field
John Kearns (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine South) - men's hockey
Hannah Mesick (Chatfield, Minn.) - women's basketball
Ben Shea (Manitowoc, Wis./Lincoln) - football
The Super Six award, in its 25th year of existence, recognizes and honors outstanding athletes who have also demonstrated a high level of proficiency in the classroom. Each year the award honors three female and three male student-athletes. These individuals epitomize the ideals of intercollegiate athletics as an educational experience at UWEC.
To be nominated for the award, the student-athletes must have completed their junior or senior season of eligibility, have attended UWEC for two years, have a cumulative resident grade point average of 3.00 or better, have a declared major, be recommended by their head coach and have demonstrated above average performance in their sport.
This year, a total of 15 student-athletes were nominated for the award which was selected by the coaching staff. "These six student-athletes represent the elite of the student-athletes from our 22 intercollegiate teams," said former Sports Information Director Tim Petermann, who was part of the group that established the award 25 years ago.
"Intercollegiate athletics at UW-Eau Claire has been and will continue to be a classroom outside the classroom," said Petermann. "Participation in intercollegiate athletics can teach life skills that will be valuable in whatever profession these athletes enter. They will learn time management, goal setting, interpersonal communication, discipline, assertiveness, overcoming adversity and motivation among other things."
A three-time letterwinner in both men's track and cross country, Thomas Breitbach completed his eligibility in cross country last year but will compete in track & field in the spring of 2012.
Breitbach has competed at a high level since transferring from UW-La Crosse in 2008.
On the track, Breitbach competes in distance events. After recording top-five finishes at WIAC Championships his first two seasons, he highlighted his junior season with a 5,000-meter WIAC Indoor Championship title and two runner-up finishes at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships. During the 2011 outdoor season, he broke two school records, one of had been held for almost 33 years.
In cross country, Breitbach participated at nationals twice. In 2009, he helped the team to a 16th place finish while he was the lone representative for the men's team in 2010. At nationals in 2010, he finished in 93rd place. His best time on an 8,000-meter course came at regionals in the fall of 2010 when he achieved a time of 24:38, one of the best times in school history. He was a team captain in 2009 and 2010.
Academically, Breitbach was a five-time member of the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team (three in cross country, two in track) while he earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors in 2011. A history major, Breitbach holds a 3.44 GPA.
A four-time letterwinner in women's hockey, Kristin Faber finished her Blugold career following the 2010-11 season.
Faber holds numerous school records and has been a leader on and off the ice over the last four years.
In 2011, she was named the NCHA Player of the Year, along with the NCHA's Scholar-Athlete. It was the first time in league history the same person earned both honors in the same year. She was also named an AHCA All-American, the first time a Blugold has ever earned the distinction.
Faber was a first team All-NCHA pick as a junior and senior after earning second team recognition as a sophomore and honorable mention as a freshman.
She led the Blugolds in scoring in each of her four seasons including a school record 34 points as a senior with never less than 22 points the other three years. During her time with the team, she missed only three games.
In the Blugolds' career rankings, she leads 10 out of 12 categories while she is second in the other two. Faber leads the following lists: points (113), points/game (1.10), goals (67), goals/game (0.65), power-play goals (18), short-handed goals (5), assists (46), assists/game (0.45), penalties (71) and penalty minutes (153). She is second in game-winning goals (10) and games played (103).
She also holds a number of single season school records, including points (34) and goals (22) while also holding numerous game records.
Faber was a two-time NCHA All-Academic selection and had a 3.49 GPA while majoring in physical education.
A two-time letterwinner in women's cross country and one-time letterwinner in track, Margaret Ho finished her Blugold career last season.
Ho competed the last two seasons for the cross country team after transferring from Macalester College (Minn.). She also attended St. Olaf College (Minn.) her freshman year and competed in cross country at both institutions.
At Eau Claire, she earned All-American honors twice in cross country. Ho took 33rd at nationals in 2009, helping lead the team to a national title. The same season, she took eighth at the WIAC Championships, where the Blugolds also won a title.
In 2010, Ho took 22nd at nationals as the Blugolds finished fourth as a team, and she recorded an eighth place finish at the WIAC Championships as the team again won a conference title. She was named the WIAC Co-Scholar-Athlete following the championship.
During the 2009-10 season, Ho also competed on the track team and came away with two top-seven finishes in distance events at WIAC Championships.
In the spring of 2011, Ho studied abroad in Germany. She has also competed in the Boston Marathon (spring of 2009) and in the Madison Marathon (spring of 2008).
Ho is a criminal justice major and holds a 3.94 GPA. She plans to graduate in December 2011.
A four-time letterwinner in men's hockey, John Kearns finished his career as a Blugold following the 2010-11 season. He is currently playing professionally with the Laredo (Texas) Bucks of the Central Hockey League.
A defenseman for the Blugolds, Kearns was a two-time team captain and earned a number of team awards. He earned the team's most dedicated player award his senior year while he was named the team's freshman of the year in 2008.
In the NCHA, Kearns was honored twice on the All-Academic team and was also an All-NCHA honorable mention recipient twice. In 2011, he was also named a WIAC co-scholar-athlete while he was an All-WIAC first team selection in 2010.
On the ice, Kearns finished with four goals and 21 assists. He and the Blugold defense consistently held opponents to fewer shots than the Blugold achieved.
Kearns, a health care administration major, holds a 3.49 GPA.
A four-time letterwinner in women's basketball, Hannah Mesick finished her Blugold career following the 2010-11 season.
Mesick was named a D3hoops.com All-Central Region second team selection in both her junior and senior seasons. She was also an All-WIAC first team pick the same years and was a Josten's Trophy finalist in 2011.
During her senior season, she led the WIAC and team in scoring (17.1 points/game) while leading the team in rebounding (8.4 rebounds/game), a mark that ranked fifth best in the WIAC. She finished with eight double-doubles.
A two-time team MVP and captain's award winner, she played on teams that advanced to the NCAA tournament her freshman and sophomore seasons. In her first year, she was named the team's rookie of the year.
In the Blugolds' all-time career rankings, Mesick ranks fourth in scoring (1,443 points) and fifth in field goals (561) and field goal percentage (.528). She also ranks third in most free throws made (320) and fourth in most free throws attempted (423). Rebounding, she ranks seventh (716) while she is sixth in blocked shots (75). She also ranks high in a number of other categories.
Academically, Mesick was a 2011 WIAC Co-Scholar-Athlete and was named a CoSIDA Academic All-District second team selection in both 2010 and 2011. A member of the University Honors Program, she was a political science major with a 3.85 GPA.
A four-time letterwinner in football, Ben Shea completed his Blugold career last season.
During his career, he played in 39 out of a possible 42 games. He was a part of the 2007 team that advanced to the NCAA playoffs for just the second time in school history.
In 2010, Shea was second on the team with 62 tackles and was tied for 15th in the WIAC. He forced one fumble and also recovered one.
Shea, who primarily played at linebacker, accumulated 71 tackles combined in his first three seasons and had one interception. In 2008, he led the Blugolds with two forced fumbles, a mark that was second in the WIAC.
A kinesiology major with a 3.71 GPA, Shea was selected as a CoSIDA Academic All-American, just the seventh football player in school history to have ever earned the honor. He was also named a National Football Foundation William V. Campbell Trophy Semifinalist.
NCAA - National Collegiate Athletic Association
NCHA - Northern Collegiate Hockey Association
NFCA - National Fastpitch Coaches Association
NCWA - National Wrestling Coaches Association
WIAC - Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
CoSIDA - College Sports Information Directors of America
USTFCCCA - United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association