Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Breen Named Student-Athlete of the Year

By NU Athletic Communications

Lincoln -- Senior Danielle Breen was named Nebraska's Female Student Athlete of the Year at the annual Night at the Lied event on Sunday evening, one of the most coveted awards offered by the University of Nebraska Athletics Department.  

The University of Nebraska Athletics Departmenthonored some of its best and brightest student-athletes with a special red carpet recognition event at the Lied Center for Performing Arts Sunday evening. The event included the naming of 2017-18 Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year and other annual team and individual accomplishments, as Husker Athletics highlighted stellar performances in competition, the classroom and the community.

Senior gymnasts Chris Stephenson and Danielle Breen garnered two of Nebraska’s most coveted awards as the Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year. The presentation of those awards capped the 28th annual event and marked the first time since 1997 that gymnasts swept the top awards.

Breen is the third Husker women’s gymnast in five years to be recognized as UNL Female Student-Athlete of the Year and the sixth winner since the student-athletes of the year were selected beginning in 1991. Breen has been a stalwart for Coach Dan Kendig’s program for the last four years, as the No. 14 Huskers finished second at the NCAA Raleigh Regional Saturday evening. Breen has been in the balance beam lineup this season, scoring 9.80 or better nine times, including a season-best 9.925 at Florida on March 9 and a 9.90 at regionals. Breen is a returning second-team All-American on the balance beam, and a two-time All-Big Ten selection. She was the Big Ten runner-up as a sophomore in 2016, earning a place on the Big Ten All-Championships Team in the all-around and on the uneven bars.  Breen has shown the ability to balance academics, athletics and community service throughout her time at Nebraska. A second-team CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2017, the Ames, Iowa, product is a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and a seven-time Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll recipient. She was also recognized as one of the Sam Foltz 27 Hero Leadership Award winners in 2017 for her work in NU’s Life Skills program. Breen will graduate with a degree in accounting this December.

Stephenson is the fifth men’s gymnast to receive the honor and first since Stephen Tetrault in 2008. He has been a leader for Chuck Chmelka’s program, as the Huskers prepare for the NCAA Championships later this month. A native of Fishers, Ind., Stephenson competes on three events (floor exercise, pommel horse and parallel bars) for the Huskers, who were ranked No. 1 nationally earlier this year. In 2017, he helped the Huskers earn their best national finish since 1999, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors for his performance in the all-around. He was a two-time Big Ten Gymnast of the Week as he performed a team-best 63 routines in 2017.  He is also a two-time finalist at the USA Gymnastics Winter Cup Challenge. Stephenson has shined in the classroom, earning Big Ten Distinguished Scholar accolades in 2016 and 2017 and is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. He is also a four-time CGA All-America Scholar Athlete. A seven-time member of the NU Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll, Stephenson will graduate with a degree in biological sciences next month.

Stephenson and Breen will be Nebraska’s Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients in 2018. The conference's most exclusive award was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student from the graduating class of each university who had "attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work." Big Ten schools currently feature more than 9,500 students competing in intercollegiate athletics, but only 28 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis. In more than 100 years of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, almost 1,400 students have earned this distinction.

Breen was also one of eight recipients of the Outstanding Scholar Award which is presented to student-athletes in their final season of eligibility or who are graduating next month while carrying a 3.90 or better GPA. Additionally, the Life Skills program named seven winners across all sports of its most prestigious individual award - the Heart & Soul Award, of which Breen was a recipient. She rounded out the night with Tom Osborne Citizenship Team honors. 

Read the complete list of awards presented at Night at the Lied and read more information here. Breen and Nebraska women's gymnastics will be back in action on April 20, when the Cornhuskers compete in the NCAA National Semifinals in St. Louis, Mo. 

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