Deciding the winners of Wisconsin's annual Athlete of the Year awards must be a remarkably difficult task. After all, the Badgers boast top-notch programs from football, basketball and hockey, all the way down to track & field and rowing. In any given year, you know there's a sizable number of worthy candidates.
Still, all tough decisions must be made eventually, and 2014's Wisconsin Athletes of the Year are track and field athlete Michael Lihrman and women's hockey goaltender Alex Rigsby. The pair will now be considered for the Big Ten's top male and female athlete honors.
Rigsby, in her senior year, became a household name to most Badgers fans. She was a first-team All-American while leading the women's hockey team to its seventh Frozen Four appearance and setting the program record for career wins with 100. That total is tied for the second-most in NCAA history, and the Delafield, Wisconsin, native also finished third in the country in goals-against average (1.32) and tied for the lead in save percentage (.945).
Lihrman, meanwhile, was the 2014 champion in the indoor weight throw and won nine events while only losing three times to collegiate competition during the indoor and outdoor seasons. The Rice Lake, Wisconsin, native later won the Big Ten title in the weight throw, and at the NCAA indoor championships, he became the first Badger to win an individual title since 2007. During the outdoor season, he broke the Big Ten record in the hammer throw and later finished runner-up in the hammer at the Big Ten outdoor championships. At NCAAs, he became the first Badger to earn All-American honors in the hammer since 1931.