Evans, Martinez take top honors

Evans, Martinez take top honors

CHAMPAIGN — Nicole Evans and Isaiah Martinez already had memorable school years in their respective sports at Illinois.

But the two Illini athletes added another impressive accomplishment on Thursday when Evans, an Illini softball player, and Martinez, an Illini wrestler, were selected as this year's recipients of the Dike Eddleman Awards, handed out to the top Illinois male athlete and top Illinois female athlete.

Evans hit a team-best .349 to go along with 18 home runs and 58 RBI for the Illini, who advanced to an NCAA regional final appearance en route to a 39-20 record. Evans leaves Illinois as the program's all-time leader in home runs with 53 and RBI with 176.

Evans, a native of Glen Ellyn, is the first Illinois softball player to receive this honor since females were first given the honor in 1977, with the softball program starting in 2000.

"Dike Eddleman set the example for what all student-athletes should strive to emulate," Evans said. "I am so humbled and so thankful to my teammates, coaches and this school for this award."

Martinez earned his second Eddleman award, becoming the eighth two-time winner and seventh repeat winner in school history, with the first award handed out in 1940. He joins Andy Phillip (basketball), Eddleman (football, basketball and track), Dick Butkus (football), Dave Scholz (basketball), Tony Eason (football), Andrew Riley (track) and Justin Spring (men's gymnastics) as the only two-time winners.

Martinez, a native of Lemoore, Calif., earned All-American honors for the third straight season after he placed second at the NCAA Championships in the 165-pound weight class. The Big Ten champion finished his redshirt junior season with a 31-1 record and carries a 98-2 career record into next season.

Martinez's accomplishments mark the 10th time a wrestler has won the Eddleman award.

"It's a pleasure and honor to represent the University of Illinois," Martinez said. "I am grateful for this recognition."

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