Evans, Giannotti named Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Nittany Lion student-athletes Adrian Evans (men’s gymnastics) and Emily Giannotti (women's track and field/cross-country) have been selected Penn State’s 2013-14 Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients.

As the Big Ten Conference commemorates its 100th anniversary of a unique tradition, the pair join more than 1,300 student-athletes who have earned this proud distinction.

The conference's most exclusive award was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had "attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work."

In 1982, the award was expanded to include one female student-athlete from each member institution. Of the 8,200 student-athletes competing at Big Ten programs, only 24 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis.

Evans and Giannotti join a distinguished list of previous Penn State Big Ten Medal of Honor award winners that include: John Amaechi, men's basketball, 1995; Jeff Hartings, football, 1996; Kim McGreevy, women's track and field, 1998; Katie Futcher, women's golf, 2004; Joanna Lohman, women's soccer, 2005; and the 2013 recipients, Petra Januskova, women’s tennis and John Urschel, football.

Earlier this spring, Evans and Giannotti were named recipients of the 2014 Ernest B. McCoy Memorial Award, which is presented annually to one Penn State senior male and one senior female student-athlete who have combined successful athletic participation with academic excellence.

A native of Boulder, Colo., Evans closed out his collegiate career with a top-20 performance at the 2014 NCAA national championship team finals. During his final campaign in the blue and white, he recorded four top-10 finishes on the pommel horse, highlighted by a second-place finish against Temple (14.9).

This season he was also selected as one of nine finalists for the 2014 Nissen-Emery Award. Widely regarded as one of the most prestigious honors in collegiate gymnastics, Evans became the 26th Nissen-Emery finalist in Penn State program history.

In 2013, Evans garnered his second consecutive All-America honor on the pommel horse at the 2013 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships. Outside of the gym, the advertising major and 2014 team captain earned College Gymnastics Association All-America Scholar-Athlete honors the last three consecutive seasons, while also earning a spot on the Academic All-Big Ten team each year.

Giannotti, who is majoring in rehabilitation and human services, has been a fixture on the Nittany Lion women's track and cross-country teams during her career. On the course, the long-distance runner competed in three NCAA Cross-Country Championships (2011-13), leading the Penn State contingent to a berth in the 2013 Championships. Giannotti also earned All-Region status with a 21st-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, which the former All-Big Ten member helped the Nittany Lions win. 

Giannotti has helped Penn State capture the Big Ten women’s indoor and outdoor track and field championships in 2013-14.

On the national scene, the Coudersport, Pa., native qualified for the 2013 NCAA Eastern Preliminary Round in the 10,000 meters and for the 2012 edition of the meet in the steeplechase. A graduate student, she placed third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in the USA Track & Field Junior Outdoor Championships.

Penn State has won three NCAA Championships in 2013-14, its most since winning three in 1999-2000, and has tied its school record by capturing eight Big Ten titles for the second consecutive, the highest combined total in the conference the past two years. Penn State student-athletes have an 88 percent graduation rate, according to the most recent NCAA data.

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Last Updated May 30, 2014