UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. -- The Saginaw Valley State University Athletic Department has selected its annual "Ryder Athletes of the Year," with Women's Swimming student-athlete Amanda Thielen and Men's Track & Field student-athlete Sam Black being chosen as the top female and male athletes, respectively, for the 2016-17 season.
The "Ryder Athlete of the Year" stands as the most prestigious Cardinal athletic award. During his tenure, former SVSU president, Dr. Jack M. Ryder and his wife, Lila, were both passionate fans of Cardinal Athletics. Their support and contributions to the SVSU Athletic Department are recognized on an annual basis with the presentation of the "Ryder Athlete of the Year" award, which is presented to the top male and female Cardinal student-athletes.
Amanda Thielen - Women's Swimming
Thielen capped-off a stellar sophomore season for the Lady Cardinals by becoming the first-ever all-american performer in the three-year history of the program. She claimed First Team All-American honors in the 200 Backstroke at the 2017 NCAA Division II Championships, finishing in 8th place overall. She added to that Honorable Mention All-American honors in the 100 Backstroke, 200 Medley Relay and 400 Medley Relay. Thielen was named Third Team All-GLIAC in the 400 Medley Relay as well. The Lady Cardinals finished 25th in the nation after the team's performance in the meet, being led by Thielen's performances. The junior currently holds five of SVSU's records.
SVSU Swimming & Diving head coach Bruce Zimmerman on Amanda Thielen...
"I am very excited that Amanda Thielen has been selected to be the recipient of the Female Ryder Athlete of the Year Award. Just a junior, Amanda's work ethic and commitment to her academic and athletic success has led her to be one of the top students on the women's swimming & diving team as well as having earned her the distinction of becoming the first All–American swimmer in the short history of the SVSU Women's Swimming & Diving Program. She can now add to her legacy of being the first SVSU Swimming & Diving Team Member to honored with this prestigious award. We are all very proud of Amanda for all she has done for the team, SVSU Athletics, and Saginaw Valley State University."
Sam Black - Men's Track & Field
Black was beyond solid in what was just his second season competing for the Saginaw Valley Track & Field program. He capped-off his sophomore season by claiming First Team All-American honors in the decatlon, finishing in sixth place at the 2017 NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships. Black earned USTFCCCA All-Region honors in three different events; the high jump, javelin throw and decathlon. Sam claimed the GLIAC Outdoor Championship in the decathlon, earning Field Athlete of the Meet honors. Black was a Second Team All-GLIAC finisher in the heptathlon for the indoor season as well. He earned USTFCCCA All-Academic honors following the 2017 campaign, a national academic honor.
SVSU Track and Field head coach Rod Cowan on Sam Black...
"Sam has worked extremely hard for this moment. He joins a list of our institution's most decorated student-athletes. I wouldn't go as far to say that I knew he would be this good but what I can say is he works his tail off every day! If you were to meet his parents, you would understand where his work ethic and commitment comes from. He's a great example of what coaches look for in student-athletes, as he's great in the classroom and on the track."
Thielen and Black will be recognized at the final home football game of the 2017 season when SVSU faces Tiffin University on Saturday, October 28. Kickoff for that game is set for 3:00 p.m. at Wickes Stadium.
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