Cox tabbed Athlete of the Year; Sullivan named Coach of the Year

University Park, Pa. — On the heels of the Nittany Lions' historic victory at the Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships, senior Shana Cox (Westbury, N.Y.) has been named Track Athlete of the Championship, and Track Athlete of the Year, while Director of Track and Field Beth Alford-Sullivan has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year, announced by conference offices on Wednesday.

Cox has received Athlete of the Championship honors on three occasions, including the 2008 indoor season and the 2006 outdoor season, but this is the first time she has been garnered the Athlete of the Year designation. Sullivan is a two-time recipient of Big Ten coaching accolades, after being named Coach of the Year after the 2004 indoor season, when she led the Lions to the program's first Big Ten win.

Cox was a triple winner at the conference meet, capturing titles in the 200-meters, 400-meters, and the 4x400-meter relay to bring her career total to an impressive 15 Big Ten gold medals - the most by any individual in Nittany Lion history. Cox was as sharp as she has been all season last weekend, winning the 200 in a lifetime-best 23.15, and clocking a season-low 52.00 in the 400. Both Cox's times are among the top three in the East region, while her quarter-mile mark is ranked in the top five nationally. Cox was an easy pick for Track Athlete of the Year accolades as she was named Big Ten Athlete of the Week a total of three times during the outdoor season. The senior remains undefeated in the 400 on the season, including wins at the Oregon Pepsi Team Challenge, Arizona State Sun Angel Classic, and Jesse Owens Track Classic. Cox, who anchored the Penn State 4x400 to its third-straight outdoor conference victory and sixth-consecutive in conference competition, closed on the Lions' 3:31.44 school record at the Penn Relays, where she and teammates Dominique Blake (Bronx, N.Y.), Aleesha Barber (Decatur, Ga.), and Gayle Hunter (Riverside, Calif.) won the program's first-ever Championship of America wheel. Cox is just the third Nittany Lion to earn Athlete of the Year honors, joining Penn State greats Connie Moore and Jennifer Leatherman in the record books.

This is a great honor in my coaching career," said Sullivan. "The Big Ten is such a great conference with such outstanding coaches, it is a true privilege for me to receive such an award."

 

Sullivan led her No. 14 Nittany Lion women to the program's second Big Ten title, and first outdoor crown last weekend. Sullivan's charges scored an impressive 151 points, bettering Michigan with 118 points, and Minnesota at 113. Sullivan, who now has a grand total of 14 Coach of the Year certificates to her credit, oversaw five gold-medal finishes on the weekend, including Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio), who posted a school-record run to win the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and Barber, who knocked off defending NCAA champ Tiffany Ofili of Michigan to capture the 100-meter hurdles, to go along with Cox's two individual victories, and the 4x400. After the five gold medals, Sullivan's Lions added four silver, and four bronze-medal finishes to the Penn State medal count. The Nittany Lions, who have already set three school records this season, have been on the upswing since Sullivan arrived in Happy Valley in 1999, finishing the top three during every outdoor conference meet since the 2003 season - Michigan is the only other Big Ten squad that can claim same level of consistency.

 

The Nittany Lions continue their journey to the NCAA Championships next weekend, traveling to the NCAA East Regional Championships in Tallahassee, Fla. The meet, which will be hosted by Florida State University, is scheduled for May 30-31.

 

Fans can catch all the action from the Big Ten Championships on the Big Ten Network, Thursday, May 22, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

 

Penn State Award Winners
Track Athlete of the Championship: Shana Cox
Track Athlete of the Year: Shana Cox
Women's Coach of the Year: Beth Alford-Sullivan

 

First Team All-Big Ten
Samuel Borchers
Aleesha Barber
Dominique Blake
Shana Cox
Bridget Franek
Briene Simmons

 

Second Team All-Big Ten
Shawn Colligan
Ron Jules
Mark Miller
Clarence Smith
Shavon GReaves

Sportsmanship Award Winners
Heidi Nadeau
Ryan Taylor

Contacts: 
Last Updated November 18, 2010