Nittany Lion wrestler Bo Nickal (Allen, Texas) has been named the 2019 Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year.
Nickal was honored from a field that featured each of the 14 Big Ten members’ Male Athletes of the Year.
Iowa women’s basketball player Megan Gustafson was named the 2019 Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year.
Nickal is the first Penn State student to be named Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year since fellow wrestler David Taylor was honored in 2014.
He is the third Penn State male student to be recognized and 11th wrestler to win the award. Men’s gymnast Luis Vargas was the first Nittany Lion to be honored, earning the award in 2005.
The Allen, Texas, native was the 2019 NCAA Champion at 197 pounds and was honored with the 2019 Dan Hodge Trophy as the most outstanding college wrestler of the year. Nickal was named the 2019 Co-Big Ten Wrestler of the Year (with teammate Jason Nolf) following a season in which he claimed his third Big Ten title.
Overall, he was 120-3 at Penn State with 59 pins, 12 technical falls and 23 majors. He was 19-1 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, winning three national titles.
Nickal earned the 2019 NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler accolade as he finished his senior season with a perfect 30-0 record. Nickal was part of four consecutive NCAA Championship teams with the Nittany Lions, winning the crown in each of his competitive seasons in State College.
Nickal was recently voted Penn State Male Student-Athlete of the Year, the seventh Nittany Lion wrestler to be honored as such (and those seven grapplers earned nine total Penn State awards).
Six Penn Staters have been named Female Athlete of the Year, the latest being women’s volleyball player Megan Hodge in 2010.
Gustafson and Nickal were among a field of nominees that included 11 national champions, 25 All-Americans, 16 Big Ten Champions, 14 individuals who won Big Ten Player of the Year honors and six who collected a National Player of the Year accolade.
The Big Ten Conference has recognized a Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year since 1982 and first honored a Female Athlete of the Year in 1983.
The Big Ten Athletes of the Year are selected by a panel of conference media members from nominations submitted by each institution.