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Friday, May 24, 2024
Wisconsin Mens Hockey McClellan

The Daily Cardinal’s Wisconsin men’s sports 2023-24 awards

In a year marked by the debut of two new high-profile coaches, the 2023-24 academic year was topsy-turvy for Wisconsin men’s sports.

As the athletic and academic year nears its end, there is no better way to close out this time than by handing out some awards. It was yet another action-packed year for Wisconsin athletics, so let’s look back and recognize all the good that came from this sports season. 

MVP: Kyle McClellan, hockey

Kyle McClellan, a goaltender for the Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team, was critical in backstopping the hockey team to a resurgent season this year. McClellan shouldered a large burden for the Badgers, starting 37 games. He saved 93% of the shots he faced and allowed only 1.94 goals per game, which was the nation’s best. 

McClellan finished the year with 24 wins and seven shutouts and was recently honored with the Mike Richter Award, given annually to the best goalie in college hockey. Additionally, he was named an All-American and was a top-ten finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the best player in college hockey. 

Transfer of the Year: AJ Storr, basketball

While it’s ironic this award goes to a player who has since transferred from Wisconsin, AJ Storr still earned it for his performance this year. Storr averaged nearly 17 points per game, including back-to-back 28-point performances against Michigan State and Nebraska. Storr brought dynamic athleticism and provided a spark to the Badgers team that missed the tournament last year. He helped carry Wisconsin to the Big Ten tournament final with dominant performances against Northwestern and Purdue and led the team back to the NCAA Tournament. 

Breakout Player of the Year: Ricardo Hallman, football

In a very up-and-down year for Wisconsin football, Ricardo Hallman stole the show as a consistent presence every week. Hallman tied for the most interceptions in the nation with seven, highlighted by his 95-yard pick-six against Rutgers, Wisconsin’s longest pick-six against a Big Ten opponent since 1954. Hallman also recorded a tackle in every game except the season opener and was the definition of a lockdown corner. 

Hallman faced off against many difficult receivers, including some looks against Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. According to Pro Football Focus, Hallman allowed quarterbacks to have a 37.4 passer rating when throwing to him. Not too shabby. 

Coach of the Year: Mike Hastings, hockey

Wisconsin hockey was a proud program that had hit rock bottom. The Badgers’ last two seasons were simply not good enough — they went 10-24-1 in 2021-22, and 13-23-0 last year, which led to head coach Tony Granato’s dismissal

Then came Mike Hastings, who immediately engineered a turnaround. The once hapless Badgers suddenly swept No. 1 Minnesota on the road, beat powerhouse Michigan and stole the No. 1 ranking for themselves. That ranking didn’t last, but the Badgers played solid hockey all year and finished second in the Big Ten. Wisconsin also returned to the NCAA Tournament, which ended with a heartbreaking overtime loss to defending national champion Quinnipiac

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Game of the Year: Hockey, 5-4 win over Michigan 

It might seem sacrilegious to not award this to the football team that got Paul Bunyan’s Axe back from Minnesota, but hockey’s victory over Michigan was just electric. Coming off two wins against the Golden Gophers, the Badgers had an opportunity to prove their resurgence was legit. They welcomed the Wolverines, a hockey power, to town. Michigan built a 4-2 lead, but the Badgers reeled off three straight goals, including the winner from Owen Lindmark with under five minutes to go. 

Team of the Year: Track and Field

The track and field team had a strong year, taking home the Big Ten Championship. This was courtesy of Adam Spencer winning the mile race, Jackson Sharp winning the 3000 meter and Gio Wearing taking home the title in the 60 hurdles. Spencer later finished second in the NCAA Championships for the mile run. 

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