ESPN honors four Illini for academic, athletic success

By Meghan Montemurro

ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District honored four Illini athletes for their athletic and academic success.

Senior tennis player Ruben Gonzales was named to the First Team Men’s At-Large, while senior tennis player Momei Qu and junior swimmer Marissa Clapp were named to the First Team Women’s At-Large. Senior gymnast Tyler Yamauchi earned second team All-District honors.

District members from College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) selected the award winners.

District Five is comprised of Division I universities in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba. For athletes to be eligible for the honor, they need to at least be in their second year academically, have a minimum grade-point average of 3.20 on a 4.0 scale and be a starter or regular contributor. Athletes in bowling, crew, fencing, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, rifle, skiing, swimming, tennis and water polo form the at-large category.

A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Gonzales was recognized at the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Scholar-Athlete Banquet for the highest senior GPA among all athletes, earning a sport management degree. He finished his career 89-41 in singles and 70-35 in doubles. Gonzales, a unanimous selection as First Team All-Big Ten, earned four Big Ten Player of the Week honors, including three in 2008 while leading the Illini to the Sweet 16 for the seventh consecutive season.

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Qu’s academic honors continue after receiving the Arthur Ashe Jr. Top Female Scholar Athlete, as well as earning the top GPA among all-senior female athletes at the Scholar-Athlete Banquet. The Portland, Ore., native is also a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, ITA Scholar-Athlete and repeat winner of the All-District honor after majoring in finance and computer engineering. For Illinois this season, Qu recorded a 17-13 record in singles play.

Clapp, a kinesiology major, swam the seventh- and eighth-fastest times in school history in the 400-meter individual medley and scored the most points at the Big Ten Championships for Illinois. In seven of eight dual meets this season, the Danville, Ill., native won the 200m breaststroke.

Yamauchi, a second team selection, is a four-time All-American. He earned the recognition on the vault in the 2008 season. Yamauchi became only one of three gymnasts in the nation to be named an All-American for the past four seasons. The kinesiology major was a second-team All-Big Ten selection this season.

Gonzales, Qu and Clapp will be considered for Academic All-America honors after being named to the first team. Academic All-America selections will be announced on June 10 for men and June 12 for women.