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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A trio of seniors have earned accolades from Penn State for their academic, athletic and leadership accomplishments.
Zain Retherford (wrestling) and Haleigh Washington (women's volleyball) have been selected as the 2017-18 recipients of the Ernest B. McCoy Award and Megan McCloskey (women's track and field) is among the University's John W. Oswald Award recipients.
All three were recognized at the Penn State Student Awards ceremony Sunday at Eisenhower Auditorium.
The McCoy Award is the most prestigious honor presented by Penn State Athletics. The honor has been presented annually since 1971 to one senior female and one senior male student-athlete who have combined successful athletic participation with academic excellence. The award is named for Ernie McCoy, the long-time dean of Penn State's College of Physical Education, who also served as the University's athletic director.
The John W. Oswald Award, established in 1983, annually recognizes graduating seniors who have provided outstanding leadership in at least one of several areas of activity at the University. The award consists of a medallion honoring John W. Oswald, president of the University from 1970-83.
Retherford, a finance major with a 3.73 grade-point average, won his third straight NCAA individual title at 149 in March, downing Lock Haven's Ronnie Perry in the finals. Retherford ended his season with a 31-0 mark and posted a 126-3 career record. He finished his Penn State career riding a 94-match win streak dating to his true freshman year. His 19 career NCAA Tournament wins are second on Penn State's all-time list (Ed Ruth had 21). He is a four-time All-American, Penn State's second three-time NCAA Champion (joining Ruth) and helped the Nittany Lions capture the last three NCAA team titles. Retherford also sits at seventh on Penn State's all-time win list.
From Benton, Pennsylvania, Retherford's honors are numerous: two-time Hodge Trophy Winner, three-time NCAA Champion, three-time Big Ten Champion, three-time first team All-Big Ten, three-time NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler, four-time All-American, NCAA Championship Outstanding Wrestler (2017), Penn State's 10th four-time All-American, Penn State's second three-time NCAA Champion, 53 career falls are tied for tops in Penn State history, 2017 U.S. World Team Trial Champion, member U.S. World Team, 2017 CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American, 2016 CoSIDA Second Team Academic All-American, two-time NWCA First Team National All-Academic Team, 2016-17 Penn State Male Student-Athlete of the Year and three-time Academic All-Big Ten.
Washington, a senior captain of the 2017 Big Ten Champion and NCAA semifinalist women's volleyball team, graduated last December with a 3.79 GPA in philosophy. A three-time First Team AVCA All-American, she earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2017 and was a four-time All-Big Ten honoree. Washington helped Penn State to a 33-2 record and an NCAA semifinal appearance in her senior campaign. Over her four-year career, she helped the Nittany Lions to a 121-21 record, and the 2014 NCAA Championship.
From Colorado Springs, Colorado, Washington is a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-American, earning second team honors in 2015 and 2017, and third team honors in 2016. She also earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. She was a member of the Parmi Nous Honor Society, the Spiritus Leonitus Honor Society, and the Lion's Paw Honor Society, along with being the recipient of Penn State's Dotterer Philosophy Award. Washington was the 2017 Senior CLASS Award® winner for NCAA® Division I women's volleyball and a nominee for the Class of 2018 Honda Sport Award for Volleyball.
Since her graduation in December, Washington has pursued her dream of playing professional volleyball, and is a starting middle for Olimpia Teodora Ravenna in the A2 Italian Women's Volleyball Championship League.
A 2018 team co-captain from Lower Gwynedd, Pennsylvania, McCloskey will graduate in May with a degree in public relations and a minor in business. Following graduation, McCloskey, a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, will be the NCAA autonomy voting representative for the Big Ten until 2021.
McCloskey is a two-time medalist in the high jump as she brought home a silver medal at the 2017 Big Ten Indoor Track & Field Championships and a bronze medal at the 2017 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Outside of competing in the high jump for the Nittany Lions, McCloskey has been involved in numerous roles on campus. During her senior year, she has served as a co-captain for the track & field team, the president of SAAB, Penn State Athletes Take Action, and Fit For Fritz. She also was a member of the Athletic Directors Leadership Institute.
Penn State has one of the nation's most comprehensive and successful athletic programs, featuring 800 student-athletes across 31 varsity programs (16 men's, 15 women's). Penn State student-athletes have an NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 90 percent, which ties the Nittany Lions' all-time high. Nine teams earned a 100 percent GSR in the NCAA's November 2017 report. The Nittany Lions rank No. 4 among all Division I schools with 200 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans all-time, including Emily Ogle (women's soccer) and Washington during the 2017 fall semester.
Penn State's 50 NCAA Championships all-time (78 national championships overall) rank No. 5 among all NCAA Division I programs and are the highest total of any college or university east of the Mississippi River. Penn State's 31 NCAA titles since 1992-93 lead all Big Ten Conference institutions. The Nittany Lions have won 107 Big Ten championships or tournament titles since capturing their first crown in 1992-93, including conference titles in women's soccer, women's volleyball and wrestling so far in 2017-18.