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Wisconsin athletics: Dana Rettke and Jonathan Taylor named Athletes of the Year

The duo also serves as Wisconsin’s nominees for the Big Ten Conference Athlete of the Year honors.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday afternoon, the University of Wisconsin announced that junior middle blocker Dana Rettke and junior running back Jonathan Taylor were named the Wisconsin Athletes of the Year for the 2019-2020 school year. They will also be the Badgers nominees for the Big Ten Conference Athlete of the Year honors, which will be awarded Thursday.

Per the UW press release:

One of the country’s best middle blockers, Rettke helped lead the Badgers to the 2019 NCAA National Championship match and earned her third-consecutive selection as a first-team All-American (2017, 2018, 2019). The 2019 Big Ten Player of the Year, Rettke was also selected to both the 2019 NCAA Championship All-Tournament team and 2019 NCAA Regional All-Tournament team.

An All-Big Ten selection, she played and started all 32 matches and played in 110 sets. Rettke led the Big Ten with 1.45 blocks per set, in addition to leading the Badgers and ranking third in the Big Ten with a .390 hitting percentage. She also led UW and ranked fifth in the conference with 3.75 kills per set, setting a single-season school record. Rettke recorded double-figure kills in 26 matches.

Rettke competed with the U.S. National Team during the summer of 2019, winning the Volleyball Nations League and qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She was a finalist for both the 2020 AAU James E. Sullivan Award and a 2019 Honda Award.

Taylor, who left early for the NFL Draft and was selected by the Indianapolis Colts, was a pretty obvious choice for the male athlete. Here is what the release had to say about the All-American back:

Taylor cemented his place as one of the great running backs in college football history during the 2019 season.

Finishing his career with 6,174 yards, Taylor finished No. 6 all-time in rushing among FBS players and is the only player to ever eclipse the 6,000-yard mark in just three seasons. His career total ranks No. 2 all-time among Big Ten players, trailing only Badgers great Ron Dayne (7,125).

With 2,194 in 2018 and 2,003 in 2019, Taylor joined Dayne (1996, ‘99) and Iowa State’s Troy Davis (1995, ‘96) as the only FBS players to record multiple 2,000-yard seasons. Taylor is the only player to rush for at least 1,900 yards in three consecutive seasons.

Hailing from Salem, New Jersey, Taylor repeated as winner of the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s premier running back in 2019, while also earning unanimous first-team All-America honors for the second straight season. He finished fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy. Taylor repeated as the Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year and earned consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors for the second consecutive season, as well.

Taylor led the nation in scoring in 2019 by tallying 26 touchdowns (21 rushing, 5 receiving). He ranked No. 2 in the FBS in yards from scrimmage, averaging 162.9 yards per game and 6.6 yards per play. Taylor finished the season ranked in a tie for No. 3 nationally in rushing, at 143.1 yards per game.

A team captain, he started all 14 games and posted a second-consecutive 2,000-yard season by rushing for 2,003 yards on 320 carries (6.3 ypc). He led nation with 26 total touchdowns, including 21 rushing TDs, and caught 26 passes for 252 yards (9.7 ypc) and five touchdowns. He logged four 200-yard performances on the year – giving him a remarkable 12 for his career – including three straight in November in crucial wins over Iowa, Nebraska and Purdue to lead the Badgers to the Big Ten West Division title and appearances in the Big Ten Football Championship Game and the Rose Bowl.

Rettke will be returning for her senior year to hopefully lead the Badgers back to the Final Four while Taylor will be embarking on his professional career this fall. It will be interesting to see how they do in the conference award voting.