The AAU James E. Sullivan Award ceremony has gone online. The announcement of the winner of one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious awards for amateur athletes will be announced Wednesday, April 29th at 8PM Eastern Time on the Sports Stories with Denny Lennon video podcast. The 2020 event will award the best performers in the 2019 calendar year.
The award, given to the United States’ top amateur athlete, was first given in 1930 It has been won by swimmers 18 times and water polo players 3 times. The most recent aquatic sports winner was another Cal swimmer, Missy Franklin, who won the award in 2012.
Among the 10 finalists for the award is Cal senior swimmer Abbey Weitzeil. Since finalists for this award was announced, Weitzeil was also named the Honda Sports Award winner as the best female collegiate swimmer of the 2019-2020 academic year.
One of 5 aquatic sport athletes who were named semi-finalists for the award, Weitzeil was the only one to advance to the finals (Wisconsin swimmer Beata Nelson, Stanford water polo player Mackenzie Fischer, fellow Cal swimmer Ryan Hoffer, and incoming Duke diver James Harding Jr.).
While Weitzeil had her senior season cut short when the NCAA cancelled all swimming & diving championships due to the coronavirus outbreak, she still inserted her name in the history books in December. At the Minnesota Invite in December, she became the first woman in history to split sub-21 seconds in the 50 yard free when she swam a 20.90.
What Weitzeil would do at those NCAA Championships was still a matter of discussion when they were cancelled after she hurt her arm on the finish of the 50 free at the Pac-12 Championships for the 2nd straight season. That led her to sitting out the conclusion of that meet.
Weitzeil is one of 9 collegiate athletes named as finalists for the award. Of that group, all but Dana Rettke (volleyball) and Trevor Lawrence (football) had their collegiate national championship events cancelled. The 10th is 19-year old Rhythmic Gymnast Evita Griskenas.
- Evita Griskenas, Rhythmic Gymnastics, USA Rhythmic Gymnastics
- Grant Holloway, Track and Field, University of Florida
- Markus Howard, Men’s Basketball, Marquette University
- Sabrina Ionescu, Women’s Basketball, University of Oregon
- Trevor Lawrence, Football, Clemson University
- Spencer Lee, Men’s Wrestling, University of Iowa
- Dana Rettke, Women’s Volleyball, University of Wisconsin
- Kyla Ross, Gymnastics, University of California Los Angeles
- Megan Taylor, Women’s Lacrosse, University of Maryland
- Abbey Weitzeil, Women’s Swimming, University of California Berkeley