Thursday, June 10, 2010

Nikki Branchini, Tim Bush & Valete Graham Chosen 2009-10 UAlbany Athletes of the Year

Albany, N.Y. - Nikki Branchini, an All-America lacrosse defender, Tim Bush, an all-conference wide receiver, and Valete Graham, a conference long jump champion, have been selected the University at Albany's 2009-10 Male and Female Athletes of the Year, as announced on Thursday, June 10. The athletes were chosen in voting by the head coaches of the school's Division I 19-sport intercollegiate athletic program.

Branchini, a junior from Guilderland, N.Y., was named to the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-America third team, the first UAlbany player at the Division I level to be selected. She was picked by as the Division I Defender of the Year and made the IWLCA's All-North Region first team. Branchini was chosen America East Conference Player of the Year and made her third consecutive appearance on the all-conference first team. She added 10 goals and three assists in leading the Great Danes to their first-ever America East Conference regular-season title, a school-record 13-3 campaign, and the program's first national top-20 ranking. She ranks among the NCAA national leaders in draw controls (second, 4.93 pg), ground balls (sixth, 3.27 pg) and caused turnovers (ninth, 2.07 pg).

A senior from Bronx, N.Y., Graham won his third consecutive America East Conference outdoor long jump championship. He leaped 24-feet, 7.75-inches to become the second athlete in league history to win three titles in a row. He also placed fifth in the triple jump (47-8) as the Great Danes captured their sixth straight America East outdoor title, a conference record. Graham was even more proficient during the indoor season when he led UAlbany to the IC4A and league championships. The Great Danes became the first program to win back-to-back IC4A indoor crowns since 2000. He won the America East indoor long jump and was fourth at the IC4A meet in the same event. Graham, the track program's indoor and outdoor MVP, owns the school's indoor record (24-6.50).

Bush, a senior from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., shares the UAlbany male athlete award with Graham. He was voted first-team All-Northeast Conference for the second consecutive season. He caught 63 passes for 861 yards and three touchdowns, as the Great Danes posted a 7-4 record and finished second in the conference standings. Bush became the first UAlbany player to make 60-plus catches in back-to-back seasons and had four 100-yard receiving games, tying the second-best single-season mark. He hauled in five passes for 101 yards in a 20-16 comeback win over No. 20 Maine. Bush established a school record for career receptions with 147, breaking a standard previously set in 1997, and finished third on the program's all-time receiving yards list with 1,880.

University at Albany Athletes of the Year (Division I)
2009-10: Male: Tim Bush (Football) & Valete Graham (Track & Field), Female: Nikki Branchini (Lacrosse)
2008-09: Male: Joe Greene (Track & Field), Female: Michelle Simpson (Field Hockey)
2007-08: Male: Brian Lillis (Basketball), Female: Amber Maisonet (Softball)
2006-07: Male: Frank Resetarits (Lacrosse) & Jamar Wilson (Basketball), Female: Casey Halloran (Softball)
2005-06: Male: Jamar Wilson (Basketball), Female: Blair Buchanan (Volleyball) & Casey Halloran (Softball)
2004-05: Male: Luke Daquino (Lacrosse), Female: Blair Buchanan (Volleyball)
2003-04: Male: Gary Jones (Football), Female: Andee Lindgren (Softball)
2002-03: Male: Gary Jones (Football), Female: Teresa Covert (Track & Field)
2001-02: Male: Chris Phillis (Football), Female: Amy Di Micco (Field Hockey)
2000-01: Male: Michael Oliva (Baseball), Female: Dawn Di Micco (Basketball/Lacrosse)
1999-00: Male: Todd Cetnar (Basketball), Female: Megan Buchanan (Basketball)

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

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