Top five players of the semester

Nic Kerdiles—men’s hockey

Nic Kerdiles’ start in NCAA hockey was not exactly ideal. The Irvine, Calif., native was forced to miss the first 10 games of the regular season because of a suspension handed down by the NCAA.

However, as soon as he rejoined his team on the ice Nov. 30, Kerdiles made an incredible impact, helping the Badgers to a 21-6-5 record for the remainder of the season. He finished with 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists) in 32 games. Kerdiles’ surge left him with an average of 1.03 points per game, putting him second in the nation among all freshmen for scoring.

Kerdiles ended the regular season high on a 12-game scoring streak, recording 19 points (6 goals, 13 assists), including two points per game during a five-game stretch in the playoffs, earning him the WCHA tournament MVP award.

He had goals in five of the final six games, including the NCAA tournament  and the last three games of the WCHA playoffs. To cap off what at one point seemed like a season that might not happen for Kerdiles, he was ultimately named the March/April National Rookie of the Month by the Hockey Commissioner’s Association.

—Adee Feiner

Tyler Graff—wrestling

After taking a year-long break from the Badgers to focus on his Olympic training, redshirt junior wrestler Tyler Graff came back better than ever in 2013.

Graff defeated Edinboro’s redshirt junior A.J. Schopp in the bronze medal match in the 133 lbs. division at the NCAA Championships in March to earn his highest career finish. He finished fifth in both 2010 and 2011.

 The Loveland, Colo., native put together a 33-6 record on the season, while going 5-1 in the NCAA tournament and finishing the season ranked as the No. 3 wrestler in the country.

Graff went 11-2 in Big Ten matches and defeated 14 other nationally ranked wrestlers on the year en route to being named an All-American for the third time in his UW career.

 His 33 overall wins were tops for the Badgers, as did his 13 duel wins, his 56 duel points and his seven Big Ten wins.

—Matt Masterson

Mary Massei—softball

It is difficult to choose just one player to recognize on a team that has six players hitting above .300 and scores an impressive 4.96 runs per game. But if there is one UW player who deserves the recognition, it is right fielder Mary Massei. The junior has compiled a record-setting season while leading the Wisconsin softball team to a program-best 39-11 record.

Massei currently owns the Wisconsin softball single-season record for hits (74), runs (47) and total bases (121), and if the season ended today, she would also hold the single-season record for batting average (.433).

The right fielder rivaled her performance on the field this season with strong academic achievements as she was named to the Capital One Academic All-District Softball Team, an impressive feat for the UW softball program that has not had an all-district player since 2000. As a result of her award, Massei is eligible for All-America honors.

Massei looks to further a season set for the record books as she leads the Badgers into Big Ten postseason play beginning May 9 in Lincoln, Neb.

—Christian Blatner

Alex Rigsby—women’s hockey

While the Wisconsin women’s hockey team failed to make the NCAA Tournament for only the fourth time since head coach Mark Johnson took over, junior goaltender Alex Rigsby was still a force between the pipes for the Badgers. The Delafield, Wis., native started in net for all 35 games and had an allowed -goal average of 1.49 goals per game to go along with a save percentage of .943.

Specifically, in the second half of the season spanning from Jan. 11 to March 8—a period of 15 games—Rigsby really found her groove, as she registered a save percentage of .948 and allowed an average of just 1.4 goals per game. To go along with her impressive statistics, she earned herself second-team All-WCHA and second-team All-American. The All-American accolade was the first of her career.

Rigsby’s job in net was further recognized by her coaches and teammates, receiving the team’s Jeff Sauer Award, which is annually awarded to the most dedicated player.

All in all, Rigsby carried on the Wisconsin tradition of strong goaltending, vaulting her into the category of one of the five best athletes of the spring semester.

—Rex Sheild

Morgan Paige—women’s basketball

The Wisconsin women’s basketball team ended its season in March when it lost in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament to Purdue. One Badger who especially stood out was junior guard Morgan Paige, who earned third-team All-Big Ten by league coaches and media.

 The Marion, Iowa, native led Wisconsin with 15.9 points per game and started in all of UW’s 31 games. Most notably, Paige scored a career-high 33 points when the Badgers upset No. 7 Penn State in January. The junior scored in double figures in 25 of 31 games. She also ranked No. 11 in the Big Ten with a 79.2 percent mark from the free-throw line.

Paige started playing basketball in the second grade and just earned her third letter from Wisconsin. The sport runs in her family, as her brother is a freshman guard at North Carolina. Both siblings received academic recognition this year from their respective conferences, as Morgan earned Academic All-Big Ten honors. Their parents, Ellis and Sherryl Paige, both played basketball at Mount Mercy University.

With one year remaining, Paige will continue to have opportunities to rewrite the Badger record book with a relatively experienced UW roster.

—Cameron Kalmon

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