Raquel Rodriguez, Zain Retherford Named Penn State Student-Athletes Of The Year

Two powerhouse athletes from two powerhouse teams were selected as the student-athletes of the year. Penn State Athletics announced today that women’s soccer star Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez and Wrestling champ Zain Retherford earned the honors for the 2015-16 school year.

Rodriguez, a forward/midfielder from Costa Rica, helped carry the women’s soccer team to its first-ever NCAA championship in the fall and scored the game-winning goal in the title match. A captain her senior year, Rodriguez earned a number of accolades throughout her college career and especially for her 2015 season. Notably, she was awarded the Mac Hermann Trophy and was named to the All-Big Ten First Team as well as the Academic All-Big Ten Team. furthermore, Rodriguez’s efforts go beyond both the classroom and the soccer field as she works to improve conditions for female athletes in her home of Costa Rica.

Since leaving Penn State, Rodriguez was selected second overall in the 2016 NWSL College Draft and currently plays for Sky Blue FC. Last summer she was also scored Costa Rica’s first-ever Women’s World Cup goal during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

A rising junior who wrestles in the 149 weight class, Retherford helped lead Cael Sanderson’s team to both Big Ten and NCAA Championships in 2016, both of which were the team’s fifth title in the last six years. Additionally, the Benton, Penn. native took home the NCAA crown at 149 after going 5-0 through nationals competition to cap off a perfect 34-0 season that included 15 pins.

Retherford was also no stranger to various accolades this year — in 2016 the sophomore was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year as well as NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler of the Year. As for the student side of student-athlete, Retherford made the First Team All-Academic Big Ten Team as well as the NWCA First-Team National All-Academic crew. He will also be keeping busy training this summer at the Olympics as a member of the USA National Team after earning third at 65 kg at the US Olympic Team Trials.

The Student-Athlete of the Year Award highlights collegiate athletes who excel both on the field and in the classroom — a cliché description for a distinction that Penn State athletes are good at and the university loves to boast about. Rodriguez and Retherford will also now be on the ballot for Big Ten Female and Male Athletes of the year, respectively.

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Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.

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