Abbey Weitzeil, Ryan Hoffer, Beata Nelson Named Semi Finalists For AAU Sullivan Award

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Abbey Weitzeil. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The Amateur Athletic Union has announced its semi finalists for the annual AAU Sullivan Award, which annually awards the top amateur athlete in the United States. Swimmers Ryan HofferAbbey Weitzeil and Beata Nelson were named semi finalists for the award, and you can vote here. Voting will close March 13 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Ryan Hoffer, Cal

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Ryan Hoffer has been named a semi finalist for the AAU Sullivan Award. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Ryan Hoffer has excelled at the highest level of amateur swimming since a young age and has continued to raise the bar while earning his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley. Hoffer reached the pinnacle of NCAA swimming as a sophomore in 2019, earning two NCAA titles in the 50-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle relay while helping lead California to its sixth NCAA team championship.

He earned seven All-America honors in the process, the maximum amount awarded by the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA). In total, Hoffer has been awarded 13 CSCAA All-America honors in just two years of collegiate swimming. He earned six CSCAA All-America honors and scored 26.5 points, all while helping Cal set the American record in the 200-yard medley relay (1:21.88).

A champion at the conference level as well, Hoffer recently led Cal to its third consecutive Pac-12 Conference team title on March 7, 2020. He was named the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Meet, after amassing five total victories, including three individual crowns, throughout the week of competition. In total, Hoffer has won 11 Pac-12 titles throughout his collegiate career.

Heading into the NCAA Championships (March 25-28), Hoffer owns the nation’s fastest 50-yard freestyle (18.87) and has additional NCAA “A” cut-qualifying times in the 100-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle relay, 400-yard freestyle relay, 200-yard medley relay and 400-yard medley relay events.

“We are all moving forward as a group with the same goals of team championships,” Hoffer said in a recent interview with Swimming World Magazine.

A well-respected competitor in the pool and phenomenal teammate and leader in all aspects for the Golden Bears, Hoffer is taking a team-oriented focus into the final weeks of his junior season with the chance to become a repeat national champion.

Beata Nelson, Wisconsin

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Beata Nelson is a semi finalist for the AAU Sullivan Award. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Beata Nelson is one of the best backstrokes in college swimming. She is a seven-time All-American, six-time honorable mention All-American, five-time Big Ten champion and holds the collegiate, U.S. Open and American record in 100-yard backstroke (49.18).

Nelson is the only woman to break 50 seconds in 100 backstroke six times and holds the NCAA record in 200-yard backstroke (1:47.24). She is Wisconsin’s school record-holder in 100 back, 200 back, 100 fly and 200 IM, as well as holding Big Ten records in 100 back (49.18), 200 back (1:47.24) and 200 IM (1:50.79).

Nelson was named CSCAA Women’s Swimmer of the Year after winning three individual national titles (100 back, 200 back, 200 IM). She was also selected as the Big Ten Swimmer of the Year, Big Ten Swimmer of the Championship and All-Big Ten First Team. Academically, Nelson made the Academic All-Big Ten team in both 2018 and 2019.

Abbey Weitzeil, Cal

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Abbey Weitzeil is a semi finalist for the AAU Sullivan Award. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Weitzeil has proven herself to be the preeminent amateur sprint freestyler in the country, having broken the American record in the 50-yard free twice in 2019, winning four national titles at the 2019 NCAA Championships and earning 2019 Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year honors. Not only did she win all three of her individual races at the Pac-12 Championship meet – 50 free, 100 free, 200 free – but she also helped her Cal team to four relays to titles. As a result, she was named the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Meet.

At the NCAA Championships, she earned a national title in the 50 free when she was timed in 21.02 to lower the American record in the event. She also anchored three relays to national championships – 200 free relay, 400 free relay and 400 medley relay – while helping the 200 medley relay to a runner-up finish.

Weitzeil showed perseverance after hyper-extending an elbow on the final race of the third night of the meet when she hit the final wall hard at the finish of the 200 medley relay. After a visit to a local hospital, she wasn’t sure she would be able to compete due to the pain despite being cleared to swim. On the final day of the meet and with her arm heavily taped, she finished fourth in the 100 free and anchored the 400 free relay to a national title. The winning time broke the NCAA record in the event.

Weitzeil later won the 100-meter free at the Phillips 66 National Championships. For the 2019-20 collegiate season, she was named a captain of the Cal team. In the 50 free, she again lowered her American record in the event, this time to 20.90 to become the first woman ever to break the 21-second barrier at the Minnesota Invitational.

The full list of AAU Sullivan Award Semi Finalists

  • Brittany Bowe, Speedskating
  • Jade Carey, Gymnastics
  • Lauren Cox, Basketball
  • Teahna Daniels, Track & Field
  • Yianni Diakomihalis, Wrestling
  • Justin Fields, Football
  • Makenzie Fischer, Water Polo
  • Adeline Gray, Wrestling
  • Jenna Gray, Volleyball and Track & Field
  • Evita Griskenas, Rhythmic Gymnastics
  • James Harding, Jr. Diving
  • Morgan Hentz, Volleyball
  • Ryan Hoffer, Swimming
  • Grant Holloway, Track & Field
  • Markus Howard, Basketball
  • Sabrina Ionescu, Basketball
  • Trevor Lawrence, Football
  • Spencer Lee, Wrestling
  • Kaitlin Leslie, Softball
  • Erin Matson, Field Hockey
  • Maggie Nichols, Gymnastics
  • Paige McPherson, Taekwondo
  • Beata Nelson, Swimming
  • Yossiana Presley, Volleyball
  • Dana Rettke, Volleyball
  • Shaccari Richardson, Track & Field
  • Kyla Ross, Gymnastics
  • Patrick Spencer, Lacrosse / Basketball
  • Lauren Stivrins, Volleyball
  • Megan Taylor, Lacrosse
  • CJ Van Eyk, Baseball
  • Abbey Weitzeil, Swimming
  • Cassius Winston, Basketball

AAU Sullivan Award Winners (Swimming & Diving)

  • 1944- Ann Curtis
  • 1953- Sammy Lee
  • 1956- Pat McCormick
  • 1964- Don Schollander
  • 1968- Debbie Meyer
  • 1970- John Kinsella
  • 1971- Mark Spitz
  • 1975- Tim Shaw
  • 1977- John Naber
  • 1978- Tracy Caulkins
  • 1984- Greg Louganis
  • 1989- Janet Evans
  • 2003- Michael Phelps
  • 2006- Jessica Long
  • 2012- Missy Franklin

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