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Field Hockey Senior Marina DiGiacomo (Mendoza, Argentina ) and junior wrestler Jeff Rusak (Reading, Pa.) were named Athletes of the Year by the Old Dominion University Alumni Association, while tennis standout Mily Kannarkat (Va. Beach, Va.) and golfer Gary Harper (Sidmouth, Devon, England) were named the 2001 Jack Wilkins/James Howard Scholar Athletes of the Year.

Old Dominion University Athletic Honors Banquet and Hall of Fame induction was held at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel on Tuesday, April 24.

DiGiacomo completed her illustrious career as Old Dominion's most decorated field hockey player. She is a four-time CAA Player of the Year, a four-time CAA Tournament MVP, a two-time Dita/NFHCA All-American and Old Dominion's fifth Honda Award winner as the nation's top player in her sport. At the field hockey national championships, she scored five goals in two games leading Old Dominion to its ninth NCAA National Championship. She led the nation in scoring with 63 goals, 25 assists and 151 points, and completed her career as the NCAA's all-time scorer with 414 points and 167 goals. DiGiacomo also received the Tom Scott award at the Norfolk Sports Club Monday as the top athlete at the University.

Jeff Rusak compiled a 33-5 record in 200-01 and captured the CAA Championship at 174 pounds. He picked up his 100th career victory at the NCAA National Championships where he was 2-2. Rusak has a three-year streak of perfection in dual matches, going 12-0 this year and upping his record to 35-0 in three seasons. This season, Rusak placed first at Coppin State Open, the Old Dominion Invitational, the CAA Championships and the Virginia Intercollegiate State Championships. The junior placed second at the Penn State Invitational and the prestigious Mat Town Tournament.

The Jack Wilkins/James Howard Scholar Athletes of the Year are presented to the male and female senior athletes with the highest grade point averages. Both Howard and Wilkins were instrumental in the formation of the Intercollegiate Foundation in 1965.

Mily Kannarkat was 20-1 this year in singles and undefeated in the CAA. She earned second team All-CAA honors this year in in singles and doubles as the Lady Monarchs captured their first CAA Tennis Championship, and will now advance to their first-ever NCAA Tournament. In 1999, she was named the CAA Tournament MVP. Kannarkat has a 3.97 grade point average in biology/pre-med. She is a CAA Scholar Athlete and ITA Academic All-American.

Gary Harper earned Academic All-American honors last year by the Golf Coaches Association. He is a CAA Scholar Athlete, and in 1998, Harper placed 11th at the Virginia Intercollegiate State Championships. Last week, he helped lead the Monarchs to second at the CAA Championships. He will graduate with a degree in finance and has a grade point average of 3.80.

Old Dominion University also inducted five former athletes into the school's Sports Hall of Fame. They included: Robin Smith (field hockey), Wayne Gomes (baseball), George Green (track and cross country), Peter Horst (wrestling) and Neil Paynter (soccer).

In addition to the above mentioned, the Most Valuable Players from each sport were recognized. They are as follows:

Baseball: TBA
Men's Basketball: Clifton Jones (Pleasantville, NJ.)
Women's Basketball: Hamchetou Maiga (Bamako, Mali)
Cross Country: Jessica Bradley (Middle Island, NY)
Field Hockey: Marina DiGiacomo (Mendoza, Argentina)
Golf: Geoffrey Harris (Reading, England)
Women's Lacrosse: Dana Wisniewski (Collegeville, Pa.)
Women's Sailing: Sally Barkow (Nashotah,WI.)
Coed Sailing: Adam Burns (Youngstown, NY.)
Men's Soccer: Attila Vendegh (Bratislava, Slovakia)
Women's Soccer: Melanie McGovern(Somerdale, NJ.)
Men's Swimming & Diving: Mike Coley (Niskayuna,NY.)
Women's Swimming & Diving: Kara Fichthorn (Landsdowne, Pa.)
Men's Tennis: Calin Milos (Timisoara, Romania)
Women's Tennis: Nataly Cahana (Qiriat Bialik,Isreal)
Wrestling: Jeff Rusak (Reading, Pa.)

This article was posted on: April 25, 2001

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