Retherford, Rodriguez selected Penn State Student-Athletes of the Year

June 14, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A pair of All-Americans from Penn State’s two NCAA championship teams this year have been selected as the Nittany Lions’ Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year for 2015-16. Sophomore wrestler Zain Retherford, of Benton, and women’s soccer senior standout Raquel Rodriguez, of San Jose, Costa Rica, have been honored as Penn State’s top athletes.

Retherford and Rodriguez will be on the ballot for Big Ten Male and Female Athletes of the Year with honorees from the other 13 conference institutions.

The honors are the latest in a long list of athletic and academic accolades for the two standout student-athletes.

Retherford and Rodriguez have been instrumental in helping Penn State win a combined three NCAA championships and nine Big Ten championships or tournament titles during their superlative careers, with NCAA wrestling titles in 2014 and 2016 and the women’s soccer crown in 2015.

A sophomore for head coach Cael Sanderson, Retherford helped lead Penn State to its fifth NCAA national championship in the last six years, its fifth Big Ten title in the last six years, a share of the 2016 Big Ten regular season (dual meet) championship, the NWCA National Dual Meet Series title, and its sixth straight Southern Scuffle crown. The team went 16-0, 9-0 in Big Ten duals.

The two-time All-American won the 2016 NCAA individual championship at 149 pounds with a 5-0 run through nationals, including a major, a technical fall and three pins.  He ended his sophomore year as a two-time All-American and NCAA champion,with a 33-0 overall record, and he is now 67-3 for his career. He had 15 pins this season alone, tied for seventh on Penn State’s all-time single season falls list. Retherford was the 2016 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and was named the 2016 NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler of the Year.

Retherford placed third at the 2016 United States Olympic Team Trials, earning a spot on the 2016 U.S. Freestyle World Team. He was named InterMat’s 2016 National Wrestler of the Year and was a First Team All-Big Ten selection.  Retherford’s perfect 34-0 record included 30 bonus point wins (15 pins, eight technical falls and seven majors).

A First Team Academic All-Big Ten selection, Retherford was also a NWCA First Team National All-Academic selection.  e earned CoSIDA First Team Academic All-Region At-Large honors and closed out his academic accolades for the year by earning CoSIDA Second Team Academic All-America At-Large honors. Retherford has a 3.72 grade-point average and is a finance major.

Retherford’s selection as Penn State’s Male Student-Athlete of the Year marks the fifth straight year that one of Sanderson’s wrestlers has earned the honor: David Taylor in 2012, Ed Ruth in 2013, Taylor again in 2014, Matt Brown in 2015 and Retherford this year.

Rodriguez capped off her historic Nittany Lion career on the field by securing the first national title for the Penn State women’s soccer team in a 1-0 win over Duke in the Women’s College Cup Final on Dec. 6, 2015. Playing for Coach Erica Walsh, Rodriguez’ goal in the 72nd minute in the championship match proved to be the difference for the Nittany Lions.

Following the College Cup victory, Rodriguez became the second member of the Penn State women’s soccer program to win the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is presented annually to the top female collegiate soccer player in the country, and she received the Honda Sport Award honoree for soccer. Rodriguez is one of 12 Honda Sport Award finalists for the Collegiate Woman of the Year award, which will be announced later this month in Los Angeles.

A recreation, park and tourism management major, Rodriguez also was selected No. 2 overall in the 2016 National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft by Sky Blue FC.

Rodriguez earned numerous awards in 2015-16, including: MAC Hermann Trophy winner, Honda Sport Award winner, CONCACAF Female Player of the Year nominee, Most Outstanding Player on Offense of the Women's College Cup, Women's College Cup All-Tournament Team, NSCAA Scholar Player of the Year, NSCAA Scholar First Team All-American, NSCAA All-Great Lakes First Team, NSCAA First Team All-American, All-Big Ten First Team, Academic All-Big Ten, TopDrawerSoccer Best XI First Team, TopDrawerSoccer's Player of the Year and CoSIDA Academic All-District first team.

In the Penn State record books, Rodriguez ranks 16th in points (74), 18th in goals (23), T-15th in game-winning goals (nine), T-8th in assists (28), 12th in shots attempted (187), 10th in shots on goal (77) and T-17th in games started (90).

Last Updated June 14, 2016