Ruggeri, Bizzarri named top athletes of the year

The University announced the winners of the 2008-09 Dike Eddleman awards Wednesday afternoon for the best Illinois athletes of the year. Gymnast Paul Ruggeri took home the award on the men’s side, while track and field and cross-country runner Angela Bizzarri claimed the award for the women.

Ruggeri won the award after placing first at nationals in both the parallel bars and high bar as a sophomore.

“It’s a great honor to be associated with the award because so many great athletes, professional athletes, Olympians have come before me and received this award,” Ruggeri said.

Bizzarri received the honor for the second year in a row after winning the 5,000 meters both at the Big Ten Championships and at nationals.

“It’s been a really good season, I won my first NCAA title so I couldn’t be happier,” Bizzarri said.

The Male and Female Newcomers of the Year were also handed out to Andrew Riley and Michelle Bartsch, respectively.

Riley was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year for indoor track & field and received All-American honors in both indoor and outdoor track & field. Bartsch was named both Big Ten and NCAA Mideast Regional Freshman of the Year in volleyball.

For more on the Dike Eddleman award winners, pick up a copy of Friday’s Daily Illini.