In the spirit of the ESPY Awards next month, we have decided to take that concept with the major awards and apply it to the past year of Michigan State athletics. Readers will have an opportunity to vote for the Best Male Athlete, Best Female Athlete, Best Team, Best Coach and Best Game. When looking for nominees, we actively tried to avoid putting multiple representatives from a single sport in each individual category. When we get to the Best Game category, you will see we failed miserably in that regard. We will announce all of the winners once we get past each of these categories. Today, you will have the opportunity to vote for the Best Female Athlete of 2015-16 and have until Thursday to vote for Best Male Athlete in the link above.
Aerial Powers (Basketball) – What a record-breaking season it was for Aerial Powers. She left early for the WNBA after a season where she scored a school record 697 points during her junior year. Despite leaving early, she holds the program-record for most career points. She was also first-team All-Big Ten for the third consecutive season, but appeared underrated from a national perspective. She was “only” a third-team All-American. With 47 career double-doubles, Powers became MSU’s record-holder in that category. She led Michigan State to the third-best record in the Big Ten and led them to the Big Ten Championship game before falling to Maryland. She was taken fifth overall in the WNBA Draft by the Dallas Wings. Her success this past year didn’t take place entirely at MSU as she played for Team USA in the World University Games. Powers helped lead the Americans to a gold medal, as she scored a team-high 27 points in the final game against Canada.
Alexis Wiersma (Cross Country) – Junior Alexis Wiersma finished in the Top 25 in every race she participated in over the last year. Though she never finished first in an event, she finished second twice, including in the Big Ten Championships. In the Big Ten Championships (6K), she posted a personal-best 19:49.9. In addition to being first-team All-Big Ten and first-team All-Regional, her 21st-place finish at the NCAA Championships let her take home All-American honors. In that event, Michigan State was the third team in the Big Ten and 17th overall as Wiersma paced the Spartans.
Lisa Burt (Gymnastics) – Lisa Burt finished the season as a second-team All-Big Ten selection this season after wrapping up last year as a first-team selection. Despite the slight step backwards, she still ended up being an individual qualifier for the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. Her All-Around score of 37.7000 was good enough to finish 34th overall. With her going to the championships, it was the first appearance for any Spartan since 2010. She finished her career with more points than any competitor to ever wear the green and white. Along with the football team’s Jack Allen, Burt won the Big Ten Medal of Honor, an award that is handed out to a male and female athlete of each school in the conference.
Heather Howie (Field Hockey) – Heather Howie is just one of three Spartans to start all 19 games for Michigan State. Despite the Spartans finishing just 5-14, Howie still was a first-team All-Big Ten selection and the only Spartan to receive all-conference honors of any kind. She finished the season third on the team with five goals and tied for the team-lead with five assists. Her 15 points were second on the team, only to Sophie Macadre. Howie, who is on the Scotland National Team, split the Team MVP Award with Katie Miller.
Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz (Soccer) – Though the Spartans finished ninth in the Big Ten, Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz was one of the few bright spots for the Spartans. She was fourth on the team with six points coming off of three goals on 11 shots. She was named first-team All-Big Ten and was the only Spartan to be named to either the first or second teams.
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