Bo Nickal, three-time Big Ten and NCAA wrestling champ for Penn State, has been named the 2019 Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year, his alma mater announced Wednesday.
Nickal is the eleventh wrestler in the Big Ten conference to be presented with this award, named to honor Jesse Owens, Ohio State track star in the 1930s who won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Nickal is the third Penn State male athlete to earn this honor, joining fellow Nittany Lion wrestler David Taylor in 2014, and gymnast Luis Vargas in 2005.
University of Iowa women’s basketball player Megan Gustafson was named the 2019 Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year.
The Big Ten Conference has recognized a Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year since 1982 and first honored a Female Athlete of the Year in 1983. The Big Ten Athletes of the Year are selected by a panel of conference media members from nominations submitted by each of the fourteen schools which comprise the Big Ten.
Nickal has concluded his academic and athletic career at Penn State with a year of impressive honors. Among the awards earned in 2019: InterMat Wrestler of the Year … Hodge Trophy winner … Penn State Male Athlete of the Year … 2019 NCAA Division I Most Dominant Wrestler … and Co-Big Ten Wrestler of the Year (along with teammate Jason Nolf).
In addition, Nickal completed his Nittany Lion mat career with three NCAA titles, most recently, as 197-pound champ at the 2019 NCAAs. He was also a four-time NCAA finalist and NCAA All-American … and a three-time Big Ten conference champion. The Allen, Texas native tallied a 120-3 career record (including a perfect 30-0 senior year), with 59 pins, 12 technical falls and 23 major decisions in his time as a Penn State wrestler.
Bo Nickal was equally successful in the classroom, earning Academic All-Big Ten and NWCA First Team National All-Academic Honors.