The big names came out for the big awards Wednesday night at Benaroya Hall for the 76th Annual Sports Star of the Year Awards.
Mariners’ starter Felix Hernandez was named the Story of the Year. Winners in three other categories were selected by more than 34,000 online voters:
Male Athlete of the Year
APOLO OHNO, USA Short Track Speedskating
Ohno, who never misses a chance to brag that he is from Seattle, was named Male Athlete of the Year.
This city is pure,” Ohno said in his acceptance. We really care about our athletes here.”
Ohno became attracted to short track speed skating while watching the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Eight years later, in Salt Lake City, Ohno became an Olympic gold medalist for the first time, and eight years after, in Vancouver, B.C., became the most decorated American athlete in Winter Olympics history.
By winning three medals, Ohno hiked his career total to eight, breaking the previous record of six, held by speedskater Bonnie Blair. Ohno won more Olympic medals than any athlete (summer or winter) in state sports history.
In addition to the two gold, two silver and four bronze Olympic medals, he also owns eight gold, seven silver and six bronze medals in World Championship meets, and one gold and one bronze in World Team Championship meets.
Ohno is also a three-time World Cup overall champion. Once a state champion swimmer, Ohno has been a member of three U.S. Olympic teams (Salt Lake City; 2006, Turin, Italy, and Vancouver). A celebrity apart from sports, Ohno, along with partner Julianne Hough, won ABCs Dancing With the Stars competition on May 23, 2007, beating out singer Joey Fatone and boxer Lalia Ali.
Female Athlete of the Year
JESSICA PIXLER, SPU Cross Country/Track & Field
Pixler, who starred at Seattle Pacific University, a Division II school, before transferring to the University of Colorado, is in the prime of her career. But it’s a grind. Running, as she readily admits, is tough on the body.
The biggest thing is holding off injury,” Pixler said. When running at that level, so much is injury maintenance. Most times when you run, you’re running through something.
It’s a balancing act. In order to get better you have to push yourself but you don’t want to push it too far. It’s a really fine line.”
Her specialties are the 1500 and 5K and 800 meters.
Gov. Christine Gregoire and former UW soccer star Hope Solo presented the award to Pixler.
Pixler chose SPU so she could run cross country and play soccer, something most Division I schools prohibit. The Falcons wound up hitting the mother lode as Pixler finished owning12 NCAA Division II national championships.
A finalist for the Female Athlete of the Year award for the second consecutive year, Pixler became eligible again in 2010 because of her indoor and outdoor accomplishments in 2010. At the NCAA Division II indoor meet last March, she won the mile. At the NCAA outdoor meet last May, she won the 1,500 meters, giving her 12 national crowns overall. In all, Pixler won three 1,500 titles, three cross country titles, four indoor mile titles, an indoor 5,000-meter title, and was part of a victorious SPU distance medley relay team.
Last week, Pixler was named one of the NCAA Todays Top VIII award winners, which honors eight recipients spanning all three NCAA divisions for their athletic and academic success and for their community involvement. Also in 2010, Pixler was named the NCAA Division II national Outdoor Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and the Cross Country Coaches Association.
That gave her a sweep of the USTFCCCA Athlete of the Year awards: cross country last fall, indoor track this past winter, and outdoor track in the spring. The Falcon senior became just the second woman to win all three of those awards in the same school year. The only one to do so previously was Mandy Zemba of Grand Valley State (Mich.) in 2005-06.
Professional Sports Star of the Year
TIM LINCECUM, San Francisco Giants
A graduate of both Liberty High School and the University of Washington, Lincecum already holds the distinction of being the most decorated ex-Husky ever to play in the Major Leagues.
A 2006 first-round draft choice by the Giants, Lincecum is already a three-time National League All-Star, a two-time Cy Young award winner, a two-time Sporting News Pitcher of the Year, a three-time strikeout champion, and a three-time NL leader in strikeouts-per-nine innings.
Also the winner of the 2006 Golden Spikes Award while pitching for Washington, Lincecum capped his third full season in the majors by helping the Giants defeat the Texas Rangers in the World Series. He won Game 1, opposing former Mariner Cliff Lee, and followed up by beating Lee again in Game 5, the World Series clincher. Earlier in the playoffs, on Oct. 7, Lincecum fanned 14 Atlanta Braves in his first postseason appearance, establishing a Giants franchise record.
Lincecum was unable to attend the banquet.