Although summer is traditionally a much-needed downtime for Penn State Athletics, this summer is the exception. From record-high football ticket sales to sending former Penn Staters to the Olympics, Nittany Nation has plenty to focus on during these hot summer days.
First up, two Nittany Lions were awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor for their academic and athletic excellence: women’s soccer’s Britt Eckerstrom (Germantown, Md.) and wrestling’s Nico Megaludis (Murrysville, Pa.). The Big Ten Medal of Honor is unique in that it celebrates the Big Ten’s 102nd anniversary as the oldest athletic conference in America. The first recipient of the award was in 1915 and was given to one student (presently, two are awarded at each school: one male and one female) in every graduating class at each Big Ten school for demonstrating excellence in school and on the field.
With close to 10,000 students competing in the Big Ten across 14 schools, being one of the 28 recipients is no easy feat. Both Eckerstrom and Megaludis worked extremely hard for these awards all throughout the 2015-16 year.
Eckerstrom, starting goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team, was a large part of the reason that women’s soccer captured the title of National Champions this past fall. She started every game of the season, which tallies 27, and had an impressive record of 22-3-2, including a whopping 15 shutouts. During her four years with Penn State, Eckerstrom records 255 saves, 24 solo shutouts, and 6,966 minutes played. Eckerstrom’s 255 saves ranks as fourth in the all-time standings at Penn state.
As strong in the classroom as she is in the net, Eckerstrom graduated with a degree in geography, boasting a 3.64 GPA.
Megaludis, a wrestler at Penn State, is known for his incredible work ethic. He won the title of National Champion in his weight class this past year, becoming Penn State wrestling’s 31st national champion in the program. Megaludis ranks second in the program’s all-time NCAA Championship list with 18 NCAA championship titles.
Off the mat and out of the gym, Megaludis pursued the rigorous path of a finance major, which requires students to maintain at least a 3.4 GPA.
Switching gears, five Penn State men’s volleyball alumni are heading to the 2016 Rio Olympics this August. Three alums will be competing for Team USA, and two will be representing Team Mexico.
Team USA welcomes Nittany Lion alums Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.), Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio), and Aaron Russel (Ellicott City, Md.) to the squad this summer, while Team Mexico brings on Carlos Guerrera to the roster and Ivan Contreras as an assistant coach.