Cox, Sandy named Penn State Athletes of the Year

University Park, Pa. — Junior men's gymnast Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.) and women's track redshirt-senior Shana Cox (Westbury, N.Y.) have been named the 2007-08 Penn State Student-Athletes of the Year after outstanding seasons for both Nittany Lions. The award is the first for Sandy with Cox capturing the PSU honor for the second straight year. Both student-athletes will now face the other 10 conference institutions' Student-Athletes of the Year to vie for the coveted Jesse Owens Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year and Suzy Favor Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year honors.

The winners of the conference Athlete of the Year awards will be named during the Big Ten Awards Show, which will air Friday, June 20, at 10 p.m. ET., on the Big Ten Network.

In 2008, Sandy had arguably the greatest individual season in the storied history of Penn State men's gymnastics. For a program whose athletes have earned 99 All-American honors (since 1980) and captured a total of 51 NCAA individual championships, that is no small feat. During a regular season which featured head-to-head competitions with national powers Oklahoma, Cal, Ohio State, and Michigan, Sandy excelled, winning 29 titles and compiling 53 top-three finishes. His impressive accomplishments did not go unrecognized, as he tied a conference record by earning Big Ten Male Gymnast of the Week accolades four times. Sandy's success continued in the postseason when he led the Nittany Lions to their second Big Ten Championship, winning individual titles in the parallel bars and the all-around. For his brilliant performance, he, by a vote of the conference coaches, was unanimously named the 2008 Big Ten Gymnast of the Year. Sandy then went on to dominate at the national collegiate championships, capturing the NCAA all-around crown. With that title, he became the first Penn State gymnast to win the Big Ten and NCAA all-around championships in the same year. Sandy secured a total of six All-America honors, the most ever by a Nittany Lion at a single NCAA Championship. With the new FIG scoring being implemented this year, Sandy currently owns the Penn State record for high score in four of the six events plus the all-around. A diligent and hard-working student who is pursuing degree in science, Sandy will undoubtedly be the leading candidate for the 2009 Nissen-Emery Award, the gymnastics equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, in his senior season.

An 11-time All-American, Cox captured a pair of national titles this past weekend at the NCAA Championships to seal her place in Penn State history. After a runner-up finish in last year's 400-meters, Cox used the finish as motivation and became Penn State's first national champion in a running event since 1978 and the first-ever champion on the track in NCAA-sanctioned competition. She is also Penn State's first female ever to win two national championships in the same year. This year's honor is Cox's second straight as Penn State's Female Student-Athlete of the Year. Cox earned the 2008 Indoor and Outdoor Mid-Atlantic Region Track Athlete of the Year, marking her third straight Regional Athlete of the Year honor. Following the Big Ten Championship meet, where she boosted Penn State to its first-ever outdoor conference championship in that sport, Cox ends her career with a grand total of 12 Big Ten titles to her credit, adding wins in the 200-meters, 400-meters, and 4x400-meter relay in 2008. Cox was named Track Athlete of the Championships for her efforts, the second such award of her career. The national leader in the 400-meters for much of the 2008 campaign, Cox also posted a provisional mark in the 200, and ran on Penn State's provisional qualifying distance medley relay. Throughout the season, Cox's accolades include a third-place finish in the invitational relay at the Tyson Invitational, and a first-place finish amongst collegiate teams the same weekend. Cox is also a three-time Mid-Atlantic Regional Athlete of the Year, winning the award in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Individually, Cox was named Penn State Athlete of the Week on February 12 and February 19.

In 2004-05, men's gymnast Luis Vargas captured the Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year Award. A Penn State student-athlete last captured the Big Ten Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year Award in 2005-06 when women's soccer standout Tiffany Weimer was the recipient. All told, a Nittany Lion has garnered the conference Athlete of the Year award five times: Olga Kalinovskaya (women's fencing, 1995-96), Lauren Cacciamani (women's volleyball, 1999-2000), Christie Welsh (women's soccer, 2001-2002), Kelly Mazzante (women's basketball, 2003-04), and Tiffany Weimer (women's soccer, 2005-06). Vargas remains the only male Nittany Lion to be named conference Athlete of the Year since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1992.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010