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Wisconsin Athletics: Ann-Renée Desbiens, Zach Ziemek named Athletes of the Year

These record-breakers are honored by UW.

desbiens Nicole Haase

Last Friday, the Wisconsin athletic department announced junior hockey goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens and senior track and field standout Zach Ziemek as its women’s men’s athletes of the year, respectively.

Desbiens broke national records in goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts on way to earning 2016 U.S. College Hockey Online Player of the Year and WCHA Player of the Year honors. The La Malbaie, Quebec, native recorded 21 shutouts during the 2015-16 season.

Ziemek won the heptathlon at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Championships — the first Badger to win the event — and finished second in the decathlon at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Ziemek leaves UW as a five-time first-team All-American, as well as the school record holder in the heptathlon, decathlon, indoor pole vault, and outdoor pole vault. He’ll compete for a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

Here’s the official press release from UW:

Desbiens, Ziemek named UW Athletes of the Year

UW duo rewrote record books during 2015-16 season

June 24, 2016

MADISON, Wis. – Following an athletic season full of fantastic feats, the University of Wisconsin has named junior women’s hockey goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens as the school’s Female Athlete of the Year and senior men’s track and field standout Zach Ziemek as its Male Athlete of the Year.

The 2016 U.S. College Hockey Online Player of the Year, Desbiens enjoyed the best goaltending season in NCAA history, breaking national records in goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts while leading the Badgers to the WCHA regular season and postseason titles. The second-ever goaltender to win WCHA Player of the Year honors, Desbiens led UW to its ninth NCAA Frozen Four appearance in the last 11 years.

After redshirting the 2015 indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, Ziemek made a statement his senior season, winning the heptathlon at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Championships before finishing runner-up in the decathlon at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships. ‘Double Z’ also captured a pair of Big Ten Conference titles in the indoor and outdoor pole vault and helped UW finish second at the 2016 Big Ten Indoor Championships.

Ann-Renée Desbiens

Many expected Desbiens to do great things in net for Wisconsin during the 2015-16 season after the La Malbaie, Quebec, native gained valuable experience the previous spring with Team Canada at the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship.

The junior netminder exceeded expectations early in the season, as she held opponents scoreless for 543 minutes, 53 seconds, a streak that started on Oct. 3 in San Jose, California, and ended on Nov. 14 in Duluth, Minnesota.

During the 43-day streak, Desbiens had eight of UW’s nine shutouts, including a pair of blank slates against nationally ranked Bemidji State. Her scoreless streak broke Jessie Vetter’s previous NCAA record of 448:32 and helped Wisconsin open the season 18-0-0, its best start in program history.

Desbiens also shined for the Cardinal and White during the postseason, as she collected shutouts in UW’s first five games of the playoffs, including a 1-0 victory over Minnesota to give UW its sixth WCHA Final Face-Off crown. She also was named the WCHA Final Face-Off Most Outstanding Player, saving all 65 shots she faced in the tournament.

The 2016 WCHA Player of the Year ended the campaign with 21 shutouts, easily surpassing the old NCAA single-season record of 17 and the old program record of 14.

Desbiens also set new NCAA standards in goals-against average, holding opponents to an average of 0.76 goals per game, and save percentage with a .960 clip.

In addition, she held opponents to one goal or less in 32 of her 38 appearances in net and collected 33 victories, which is tied for the most in school history.

A finalist for the 2016 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, given to the top collegiate women’s hockey player, Desbiens became the third UW goaltender to earn first-team All-America honors. She also won her second WCHA goaltending title after sporting a goals-against average of 0.81 during conference games.

Entering her senior year, Desbiens sports a 70-12-5 career record and her 38 career shutouts are five away from the NCAA record. She also has a career save percentage of .952 and goals-against average of 0.97.

Zach Ziemek

Although Ziemek redshirted the 2015 indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, ‘Double Z’ set himself up for a spectacular 2016 season during his year away from competing with UW.

Ziemek began last summer with a third-place showing in the decathlon at the 2015 U.S. Outdoor Championships with a score of 8,107 points to qualify for the 2015 International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships in Beijing, where he finished 15th.

His success from 2015 carried over to the 2016 season, as Ziemek became the first Badger to win the heptathlon at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Championships with a Big Ten record of 6,173 points.

A native of Itasca, Illinois, Ziemek’s score ranks seventh-best all-time among collegians, was the fourth-best total in meet history, and was the top score in the world during the 2016 indoor season.

‘Double Z’ came close to becoming only the second collegian to sweep the NCAA heptathlon and decathlon titles in the same season, as he finished runner-up in the decathlon at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

His personal-best score of 8,300 points at the national outdoor meet broke his own Big Ten record in the event and was the best score ever at the NCAA meet by a second-place finisher. Ziemek’s score makes the No. 8 performer in NCAA history in the decathlon and it stands as the best total by an American this year.

The NCAA championships weren’t the only competitions that Ziemek shined at as he collected 30 points at this year’s Big Ten indoor and outdoor championships.

Ziemek helped UW to a runner-up finish at the 2016 Big Ten Indoor Championships, winning the pole vault while finishing runner-up in the long jump.

He also won the pole vault at the 2016 Big Ten Outdoor Championships, becoming the first Badger to win the conference indoor and outdoor pole vault crowns in the same season since 1949.

A five-time first-team All-American, Ziemek departs UW as the school record holder in the heptathlon, decathlon, indoor pole vault, and outdoor pole vault.

Ziemek looks to continue his success at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, July 1-10, in Eugene, Oregon. One of six Americans to hold the Olympic standard in the decathlon, he would advance to the 2016 Rio Olympics with a top-three finish at the trials.

Male Athlete of the Year Nominees

Nigel Hayes – Basketball

Matt Hutchins – Swimming

Isaac Jordan – Wrestling

Joe Schobert – Football

Zach Ziemek – Track and Field

Female Athlete of the Year Nominees

Kelsey Card – Track and Field

Lauren Carlini – Volleyball

Ann-Renée Desbiens – Hockey

Kelsey Jenkins – Softball

Rose Lavelle -- Soccer

--#Badgers--