Conference USA Names 2009-10 Athletes Of The Year
June 29, 2010
IRVING, Texas - Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky announced today that Rice baseball player Anthony Rendon and UTEP track & field standout Blessing Okagbare were selected as the 2009-10 C-USA Athletes of the Year.
Rendon was named the 2010 National Player of the Year by Baseball America and the American Baseball Coaches Association, after winning his second-straight Conference USA Player of the Year honor. Baseball America also selected him its 2009 National Freshman of the Year. He is a finalist for the 2010 Dick Howser Trophy (winner to be named on July 2) and was named the NCBWA District VII Player of the Year (top player in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas) for the second year in a row. Rendon is just the second player in Conference USA history to be named Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons after picking up that honor this year while leading the Owls to the regular-season league championship. The two-time All-Conference USA first-team selection was named to the C-USA Championship All-Tournament team and was named the Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA Austin Regional. He batted .402 in conference play and finished the season hitting .394 overall. Rendon led C-USA in home runs with 26 and had more homers than strikeouts (22) all season long. Rendon ranks among the nation's leaders in runs scored (83) and walks (65) while maintaining a .530 on-base percentage. He had 12 doubles and 85 RBI, while posting an .801 slugging percentage.
Okagbare concluded a stellar collegiate career with four national titles, 11 All-America honors and 15 C-USA championships. She most recently won the 100m with a personal-best time of 10.98 at the NCAA Championships, a performance that ranks among the world's best. The senior finished first in every 100m race she competed in this season. She also took gold at the NCAA Championships in the long jump with a leap of 6.79m (22-3.50") to become the first C-USA athlete to win two national titles. The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) named her the Mountain Regional Track and Field Indoor Athlete of the Year. She was the only athlete, male or female, to win both indoor honors in a respective region. Okagbare also was named the USTFCCCA Mountain Regional Female Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year.
Okagbare's 15 C-USA gold medals are a conference record. Two weeks prior to outdoor nationals, the 2008 Olympian claimed her third consecutive C-USA long jump title with a leap of 6.58m (21-7.25"). During the regular season, she cleared 6.88m (22-1") for first place at the prestigious Texas Relays, the best jump in the world at the time. Okagbare held the top jump in the country throughout the season. She also was the C-USA Champion in the 100m (11.36) as well as anchoring the winning 4x100m relay team that advanced to nationals with a season-best time of 44.31. During the C-USA Indoor Championships, she won the 60m, 200m, long jump and triple jump. Okagbare's four individual indoor gold medals tie for the most in league history. She also ranks second for most overall titles (including relays) at a championship meet. For her performances at both the C-USA Indoor and Outdoor Championships, Okagbare earned the meet's High Point Scorer honors in addition to claiming the Female Performance of the Meet titles. Her performance throughout the season has earned her a spot on The Bowerman Watch List and the NCAA Honda Collegiate Women's Sports Award list, which recognizes the top collegiate athlete in track and field.
The 2009-10 athletic season marked the seventh time that C-USA has honored Male and Female Athletes of the Year. The award is based solely on athletic achievement during an academic year and the winners are determined through a vote by the conference's Directors of Athletics. This is the third time in four years a Rice male student-athlete has earned this honor, while Okagbare becomes the first UTEP student-athlete selected. A complete list of winners to follow:
Conference USA Athletes of the Year