Having helped lead their respective teams to multiple NCAA and Big Ten titles, women's volleyball player Deja McClendon and wrestler David Taylor were named Penn State's Athletes of the Year today. The awards are the latest in a long line of accolades for both standout athletes, whose senior years and seasons were capped off with championships.
McClendon came to Penn State from Louisville, KY, and made an immediate impact on the court; she was named the AVCA Freshman of the Year in 2010 and the NCAA Tournament MVP, helping Penn State to their then-fifth (and fourth in a row) women's volleyball national championship. Two years later, McClendon's game became more well-rounded and while she didn't earn quite as many individual accolades (*only* being named to the All-Big Ten and All-American squads, and NCAA All-Tournament team) during this past season's fifth championship run, her leadership and experience are one of the key reasons why Russ Rose's squad earned their trip atop the podium in December.
Taylor, alongside 2013 Penn State Athlete of the year Ed Ruth, will go down in history as one of the greatest wrestlers to ever don a PSU singlet. He is the reigning Hodge Trophy winner, given annually to the nation's best wrestler (his second in his collegiate career); he was also named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year (for the third time), as the only wrestler in the conference to go undefeated on the season. Along with his individual National title at 165 pounds this year--his second NCAA crown--he was instrumental in helping Cael Sanderson win four consecutive National Titles these past four seasons, both on the mat and as a mentor/coach for the other wrestlers off the mat.
Congratulations to Deja and David, and best of luck in the future as you continue your sports careers on the international stage!