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In a year that saw Boise State double existing school records for Top 25 teams (eight) and Top 25 finishes (six), there were frankly too many historic performances this year to limit the 2009 Bronco Male Athlete of the Year finalists to five.
Ryan Grinnell, Andrew Hochstrasser, Ian Johnson Tyler Sherfey, Clancy Shields, Simon Wardhaugh and Kyle Wilson all gave memorable performances that went way beyond success on the team or conference level. Consider the incredible accomplishments of each below and then vote for your choice on the Blue Turf Board.
Grinnell capped off a brief but historic Western Athletic Conference career at the Outdoor Championships in Logan, Utah. He won the high jump by clearing 6 feet, 10.25 inches on his third attempt and shot through the air for a 25-feet 9.25-inch long jump. Ryan won the long jump by over a foot. That topped his own personal best and is just 1.5 inches shy of the school record. For an encore, Grinnell became the first Boise State athlete to win three individual conference championships when he won the triple jump with an NCAA regional qualifying mark of 51-9.75. It gave Grinnell nine WAC titles in his two-year career, also a school record.
He also led the Broncos to the WAC Indoor Championship with first-place finishes in the long jump (25-4.75) and triple jump (52-10.25) and a second-place finish in the high jump (6-10.75). With his 28 points, Grinnell was named the Outstanding Male Athlete of the Championships.
Grinnell won the triple jump at the Jackson's Open (52-6), the Boise State Team Invite (52-5.50) and the Sun Angel Classic (53-3.75), the long jump at the NAU Tune-Up (24-5), the Idaho Cup (24-0.25), the Sun Angel Classic (24-2.25) and the Bronco Twilight (24-11.75) and the high jump at the NAU Tune-Up (7-1.75) and the Bronco Twilight (7-0.50). He finished third in the high jump at the prestigious Sun Angel (7-0.50) and was fifth in the long jump (25-1.75), tying Troy Kemp's 1988 mark for the fifth best in school history. Ryan now owns three of the top five jumps at Boise State. Grinnell was named WAC Field Athlete of the Week following his exploits at both the NAU Tune-Up and the Sun Angel Classic.
Grinnell earned All-American honors in the triple jump at the NCAA National Indoor Championships by soaring 53-feet, 3-inches to place fourth in the country.
Ryan won the West Regional in the triple jump (53-9.75), was fourth in the high jump (6-11.75) and finished 11th in the long jump.
Grinnell was the only student-athlete in the nation of either gender to qualify for the NCAA National Outdoor Championships in the high jump, the long jump and the triple jump. He finished ninth in the triple (52-06.75), which earned him his sixth All-America honor, 11th in the high jump (6-10.75) but did not qualify for the national finals in the long jump.
After being away form collegiate competition for three years (two years on a church mission and last year as a redshirt), Hochstrasser compiled a phenomenal 35-5 record in helping the Bronco wrestling team to one of its best seasons on record. He scored seven pins, four technical falls and nine major decisions.
Hochstrasser was one of six Broncos to win individual championships as Boise State dominated the Pac-10 for the second consecutive year, scoring a conference record 172.5 points in the league championships. The 172.5 points broke the existing Pac-10 record by 17.5 points.
Hochstrasser led the Broncos at the NCAA
National Championships to a 12th place finish, capturing fourth place at 133
pounds and earning All-America status. Hochstrasser outpointed Steve
Bell of Maryland 7-3 decision to propel him into the third-place match. His run through
the consolation bracket would finally come to an end there, however, as he
dropped a 14-6 major decision to Jayson Ness of
Johnson completed a sensational career at Boise State with 766 yards (5.1 per carry) and 13 touchdowns in helping Boise State to an undefeated regular season and 9th-place finish in the Bowl Championship Series standings. Johnson also proved his versatility as the team's #5 receiver with 22 catches for 229 yards, one punt return for 19 yards and vastly improved blocking skills. Johnson led the team into postseason for the eighth consecutive year in the Poinsettia Bowl against TCU.
Johnson set a school record with 58 career rushing touchdowns, is second all-time in touchdowns (59), #2 in scoring (356 points) and is the #2 rusher (4,183 years) in Boise State history. He finished third in the record books with 16 games of over 100 yards and is second with two 200-yard games. His 13 rushing touchdowns are tied for 6th all-time (he owns three of the top six marks ever at Boise State). Johnson finished fifth all-time in all-purpose yards with 4,779. He signed with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent.
Sherfey was 30-11 with 2 falls, one technical fall and nine majors. He also won the Pac-10 title at 165 pounds to help the Broncos to their record-setting night and team championship. Sherfey, who was second at 157 pounds a year ago before moving up to 165-pound weight class for his senior season, posted a 4-1 win over Nick Amuchastegui of Stanford to help Boise State to its fifth Pac-10 Championship in the last ten years.
Sherfey finished 8th at 165 pounds at the National Championships and also earned All-America honors. Sherfey concluded his incredible career at Boise State with an overall record of 126-41, winning 75.5 percent of his matches. He qualified for the NCAA Championships four times; twice at 149-pounds and once at 157 and 165.
Shields had a 28-10 singles record including an impressive 9-6 record vs. other ranked players. Shields finished the season ranked #27 in the nation in singles. He was 22-13 in doubles play. He helped Boise State shut out New Mexico State in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament in Hawai'i with a 6-1, 6-1 singles victory and, with doubles partner Stanley Sarapanich, prevailed there as well 8-5. The Broncos were upset by host Hawai'i 4-2 in the WAC finals. Shields was named the WAC Player of the Year and was 1st Team All-WAC for both the regular season and the tournament.
Boise State was selected as an at-large team to the NCAA National Tournament and Shields was a major part of their success. He and Sarapanich helped Boise State capture the doubles point in their first-round match against Middle Tennessee State by winning 8-6. Shields was well ahead of his singles opponent as well, 6-4, 5-3 when the Broncos clinched the 4-0 win.
The Broncos took on #14 Alabama in the next round. Shields and Sarapanich downed Billy Mertz and Saketh Myneni of the Crimson Tide 8-5 as the Broncos surprised 'Bama in doubles. Clancy then defeated #84 Mathieu Thibaudeau 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 as the Broncos pulled off the win 4-3 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
Clancy qualified for the NCAA National Championships in singles for the third consecutive year.
Shields was named to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District men's at-large first-team for his excellence both on the court as well as in the classroom. He is the first at-large district winner at Boise State since the Broncos joined the WAC in 2001. Shields pulled down a 3.93 grade-point average this year while majoring in Kinesiology.
Wardhaugh broke the school record in the 35-pound weight throw at the Jackson's Open to kick off the indoor track season. The Bronco senior tossed the weight 73-feet to break the record set two years ago by Mattias Jons (72-4.50). Wardhaugh was named WAC Field Athlete of the week following the performance. He also won the weight throw at the United Heritage (68-8.50), the Boise State Team Invite (68-10.50) and the Bronco Invitational (69-9.50). He won the WAC title in the event at the Indoor Championships with a throw of 71-8. Wardhaugh then finished the indoor campaign with a fifth-place finish (71-5) at the NCAA National Indoor Championships to earn him his second consecutive All-America award.
Simon picked up where he left off by beginning the outdoor season with a seventh-place finish in the hammer throw at the prestigious Mt. Sac Relays ( 217-0) and finished third (215-10) at the Sun Angel Classic. Wardhaugh prepped for postseason competition with an outstanding toss of 223-11 at the Bronco Twilight to beat his personal best.
He began an amazing postseason run when he won the hammer by over 20 feet at the WAC Outdoor Championships last month with yet another personal mark of 224-0. Two weeks later, he won the NCAA West Regional (216-10) over UCLA's Boldizsar Kocsor (213-5) by over three feet. Wardhaugh broke his personal record once again at a most opportune time by heaving the hammer 230-feet, 5-inches to place third in the nation at the NCAA National Outdoor Championships. He came within five feet of capturing the national championship, won his third All-America title and helped Boise State finish 25th in the country.
Wardhaugh was honored last week when he was named to the All-American Academic 2nd Team by ESPN the Magazine. He earned a 3.41 G.P.A. at Boise State. Wardhaugh is a two-time WAC all-academic selection and is a member of ESPN's District 8 all-academic team.
Wilson led the WAC in interceptions with five and was ranked 10th nationally as he helped the Broncos become the only team in America with three undefeated regular seasons in five years. Wilson finished the year with 28 tackles and a team-leading 10 pass breakups. Wilson was named All-WAC at safety and received second team honors as a punt returner with 470 yards and three touchdowns. He was far and away the top WAC punt returner in the national standings, ranking 12th in the country with a 14.24 average and was one of only two players in the nation to bring three punts back for touchdowns. Wilson was named 2nd-Team All-American as a punt returner by The Sporting News.
Honorable mention in this best-ever year in Bronco sports goes to javelin thrower Pontus Thomee, tennis player Kean Feeder and Bronco quarterback Kellen Moore.
Grinnell, Hochstrasser, Johnson, Sherfey, Shields, Wardhaugh and Wilson. Seven great Broncos want your vote for 2009 Bronco Male Athlete of the Year. Go vote now on the Blue Turf Board!