IOWA CITY, Iowa - It was a year like no other. A pandemic changed the way we lived. It impacted us all.
In the sports world, college student-athletes faced never-before-seen challenges. That they managed them was nothing short of amazing.
Some of their seasons were postponed to an abnormal time of year. All of the campaigns were altered. Daily COVID-19 testing created anxiety and mental stress for many.
Achievements by student-athletes during the last year can be considered more impressive than anything we've seen in the past due to the circumstances. Their commitment to their teammates, coaches and fans was unprecedented.
They should be celebrated and remembered fondly forever. With that in mind, let's recognize five outstanding years by University of Iowa male student-athletes:
Jamal Britt, Track & Field - Britt was named the Big Ten Co-Athlete of the Conference Championship earlier this month. He won the 400 hurdles, and was second in the 110 hurdles and long jump. He was the first Hawkeye to be named Athlete of the Championships since Justin Austin in '13. He contributed 26 points to a school-record 127.5 at the Big Ten Championships. During the indoor season, when the Hawkeyes also finished first at Big Ten's, Britt was the NCAA runner-up in 60-meter hurdles, earning All-America honors in a school record-setting 7.52.
-Luka Garza, Basketball - Iowa's all-time leading scorer was named the consensus national player of the year for '20-21. He led the NCAA in Player Efficiency Rating (35.84), total points (747), 30-point games (8), 20-point games (22) and field goals made (281). He was a consensus All-American for a second year in a row. He became the ninth player in program history to have his number retired. The Hawkeyes posted a 65-32 record during his final three seasons, twice reaching the NCAA Tournament second round. Last year's event was canceled by COVID or it would have been three trips to the Big Dance.
-Spencer Lee, Wrestling - The Hawkeyes' lightest weight owns its biggest heart. Look no further than Lee winning his third national championship competing with a torn ACL in March. He is among seven Iowa wrestlers with three titles and can become the first with four next March. He would be only the fifth person ever to accomplish that feat in the sport. Lee outscored his opponents, 141-15, this season in going 12-0. He has won his last 35 matches by a combined score of 432-42.
Daviyon Nixon, Football - A first-year starter, Nixon was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He led the Big Ten and ranked 13th in nation in tackles for loss (13.5) and fourth in the Big Ten in sacks (5.5). He also paced the league's D-Linemen in total tackles (45). He earned consensus All-American honors, the 27th Hawkeye ever to do so. He was one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy. Nixon was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the fifth round of April's NFL Draft.
Trenton Wallace, Baseball - The junior from the Quad Cities struck out nine Michigan State batters in seven innings Friday as the Hawkeyes won, 12-1. Wallace punched out a Big-Ten best 106 batters during the regular season to go with a league-best 2.34 ERA. He posted a 7-1 record with eight quality starts in 13 tries. He became the first Hawkeye to be named Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and it came in his first season as the Friday starter. He currently ranks 188th on Baseball America's MLB Draft board.