Who is the Bronco Male Athlete of the Year?

Six outstanding nominees await your consideration for the 2009-10 Bronco Male Athlete of the Year. Carefully review the accomplishments of each and then vote on the Blue Turf Board.

BroncoCountry has chosen Chris Petersen (football) as its 2009-10 Bronco Coach of the Year, the 2010 Fiesta Bowl Champion football team as its Bronco Team of the Year and tennis star Pichittra Thongdach as its Bronco Female Athlete of the Year.  

We now turn our attention to the Bronco Male Athlete of the Year.  As the Boise State teams have continued to elevate their status nationally, the bar has been raised to win this award.  Performances during the year or conference championships are not enough to make the final cut.  There are so many outstanding achievements in those two areas that it would be impossible to narrow the field.  To make the finals, one must compete at the highest level nationally.  

These six outstanding Broncos fill the bill.  For your consideration, the six nominees for 2009-10 Bronco Male Athlete of the Year are:  star quarterback Kellen Moore, nickleback surprise Winston Venable, the dangerous safety and punt returner Kyle Wilson, the multi-talented track star Kurt Felix, javelin extraordinaire Pontus Thomee and wrestler Kirk Smith.



Kurt Felix

One cannot say junior Kurt Felix didn't do everything he could possibly do to help his team.  

Felix helped Boise State to a second-place indoor finish in the men's Western Athletic Conference Track & Field Championships in the spring and another second-place in the outdoor competition last month.  He then topped that off by finishing #13 at the NCAA National Championships last week in the decathlon.  

Felix began the year by setting an NCAA provisional mark of 5,346 points in the heptathlon at the Jackson 's Open.  He finished second in the high jump at the Bronco Invitational with a jump of 6-6 and 3/4, third in the shot put (42-4) at the United Heritage Invite and fourth in the heptathlon at the Boise State Team Invite.

Boise State hosted the WAC Indoor Championships in Nampa and Felix completed a record-setting second day of competition to win the conference title in the heptathlon.  Kurt scored 5,348 points to break the school record of 5,347 set by Heigo Nurmsalu.  He had a 217-point lead after the first day and posted career-bests in the pole vault (13-9.25) and the 1,000-meters (2:49.35) to win going away. 

Incredibly, after topping the field in the five-event heptathlon, Felix also finished second in the long jump (23-10), third in the triple jump (46-5.50) and sixth in the high jump (6-4.75) at the WAC Indoor Championships.  He earned All-WAC in the heptathlon, long jump and the triple jump and second-team honors in the high jump.  Kurt also was honored as the High Point Performer of the Year, scoring 24.5 points for the Broncos.  If you took those points away from Boise State , they would have finished third instead of second.

The competition moved outdoors in the spring but Felix was every bit as successful.  At the All-Idaho Collegiate, Felix took fourth in the javelin (182 feet, 2 inches).  At the California Invitational, he won the decathlon, scoring a total of 7,220 points to win by 26 points.  Felix's best effort in the event as a Bronco was just 39 points short of the all-time top-three performances at Boise State .  Kurt was eighth in the long jump at the Robison Invite (22-feet, 10-inches).  Felix placed third in javelin (192-3) and fourth in the long jump (23-4) at the Idaho-Utah Border Clash.

When the chips are on the line and the pressure is on, Felix is at his best.  At the WAC Outdoor Championships in Ruston , Louisiana , he shattered his career-best in the decathlon by nearly 200 points, scoring 7,412 to post the second-best decathlon score in school history and rank #16 in the nation.  Kurt surpassed Dave Tomlinson's 1986 mark of 7,290 points and is behind only Brian Davidson's 1996 school record of 7,712 points.

Felix compiled career-bests in the 110-meter hurdles (15.26), pole vault (12-11.50) and javelin (212-4) and defeated WAC decathletes in five of the ten events.  He won the 10-event decathlon by nearly 600 points. If you have ever seen the movie "The World's Greatest Athlete", Felix's performance at the Championships was not too different.  He went from one event to another in scoring points for the Broncos.  Felix cleared an outdoor best of 6 feet, 11.50 inches to place second in the high jump and earned eight points to add to his 10 he scored in the decathlon.  He then took third in the long jump (23 feet, 6.25 inches), second in the javelin (220-04) and third in the triple jump (48-1.75).

Felix won honors as the High Point Scorer and the Field Athlete of the meet as well.

He was the sole decathlete representing the WAC at the NCAA National Championships in Eugene, Oregon last week.  Felix won event competitions in both the high jump (6-11) and the javelin (206-8), besting the other top 23 decathletes in the nation in those two events and placed third in the long jump with an outdoor best of 23-10.25.  Kurt also set an outdoor-best in the shot put (42-2.75) during the competition.  He finished with 7,275 points to place 13th in the nation, just missing the school record set by Davidson of 10th place in 1996.



Kellen Moore

Quarterback Kellen Moore showed little signs of a sophomore slump after a terrific freshman season, leading the Broncos to a perfect season and the 2010 Fiesta Bowl win over #3 TCU.

Moore led the nation in pass efficiency (167.3) in the regular season and was second in touchdown passes with 39.  The 39 TD passes broke Bart Hendricks' single-season school record of 35 at Boise State. Kellen broke two all-time NCAA records with a TD to interception ratio of 39-3 and an overall interception ratio of .69% (three interceptions in 431 attempts).

He was 26th in the country in passing with 19.79 completions per game and 20th with 252.57 passing yards per game.  Overall, Moore was 277-431 (64.27%, 14th in the nation) for 3,536 yards.

Moore threw for just 211 yards in the Fiesta Bowl but after a successful fake punt in the fourth quarter, connected on three straight passes to move Boise State to the TCU 2-yard line.  The Broncos scored the winning touchdown on the next play.

Boise State finished as one of the nation's only two unbeaten teams and was voted fourth in the final USA Today Coaches Poll.  

Kellen was one of 10 finalists for the Allstate Sugar Bowl Manning Award, which recognizes the top major college quarterback and is the only quarterback award that also considers bowl performance.  He also was a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award and was a nominee for the Walter Camp Award as the collegiate Player of the Year.  The O'Brien Award is based on quarterback skills and athletic ability, academics, reputation as a team player, character, leadership and sportsmanship. 

Moore was not only an All-WAC selection but the WAC Offensive Player of the Year.  He began to be recognized nationally, being named first-team All-America by ESPN.com, SI.com and CBSSports.com and third-team All-America by the Associated Press.

Moore was honored by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio with its prestigious Award of Distinction for being one of the nation's top passers.  



Kirk Smith

Smith capped an amazing junior season with a #2 finish in the 184-pound weight class at the 2010 NCAA National Wrestling Championships in St. Louis . 

Smith spent most of the year as the #1-ranked wrestler in his weight classification.  He was 28-0 until his upset loss at the Championships.  He and the Broncos fell just two points shy of collecting their third consecutive Pac-10 Conference Championship.  Smith pined Michael Larson of Cal State Bakersfield to win his second consecutive Pac-10 title.  Along the way, he scored two wins by fall and one by major decision.

Smith was named Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year, joining Ben Cherrington (2006) as the only Broncos to win the award.   

Smith entered the NCAA National Championships as the #1 seed and defeated Iowa State's Jerome Ward 4-3 and Wisconsin's Travis Rutt 6-2 in the opening two rounds.  Kirk faced two-time All-American, #9 seed Phillip Keddy of Iowa in the quarterfinals.  Keddy took an early 2-0 lead but Smith came back for a 3-2 victory.  Smith then topped #4 Michael Cannon of American University with an 11-2 major decision before bowing to #6 Max Askren of Missouri 10-3 in the national championship match.

Smith was named as an All-American for the second time in his career and recorded the best finish by a 184-pound wrestler in school history, beating Cash Edwards' sixth-place finish in 2001.     

Over this past weekend, Smith finished in the top six in the 84 kg. weight class at the World Team Trials.  He downed Doug Umbehauer 5-5, 5-1 but a 6-0, 2-0 loss to Bryce Hasseman would send him to the consolation bracket.  Smith rebounded with wins over James Yonushonis 1-2, 2-1, 2-1 and Quentin Wright 4-0, 1-3, 4-0 to reach the consolation semifinals before a 1-0, 7-0 loss to Raymond Jordan.

As a team Boise State finished the 2010 season ranked No. 21 nationally for overall team GPA. While enjoying another highly successful season on the mat, the Broncos also managed to earn a 3.0179 GPA collectively. Harvard finished the year with the nation's highest team GPA at 3.3098.

Individually, Smith  received not only second-team Pac-10 All-Academic accolades but also NWCA (National Wrestling Coaches of America) Academic All-American honors for his accomplishments both on the mat and in the classroom.



Pontus Thomee

At the All-Idaho Collegiate meet, Thomee earned a second-place finish in the javelin with a mark of 211 feet, 10 inches and threw the discus 148 feet to place third.  He was fourth at the Mt. Sac Relays (226-7) and won the Idaho-Utah Border Clash with a toss of 218-feet, 6-inches. 

Thomee captured the WAC Championship in the javelin, throwing a seasonal best of 230-1.  He moved to the NCAA Western Championships in May and rose to the top by throwing the spear 236-5 on the third of his six throws. 

The Bronco senior saved his best for last as he beat his career-best by over two feet (241-5) to finish second in the nation at the NCAA National Championships.  He began the competition in 11th place and moved to ninth in the second round.  In the third and final preliminary round, Thomee posted a mark of 238-7 to advance to the finals.  Pontus let his career-best throw fly in the fifth round, a mark that was beaten only by Craig Kinsley of Brown (250-3).



Winston Venable

Venable went from a junior college transfer to being one of the most valuable players of the 2009 Boise State football team.  

Not only did Winston emerge as the starter at the "nickelback" position on the Bronco defense and become a stalwart, his play allowed talented Doug Martin to switch over to the offense and become a key factor in Boise State's stretch run.  

Venable finished the season as the third leading tackler on the Broncos with 63 tackles, 42 of them solo and eight of them for loss.  He had two interceptions that he returned for 45 yards and one touchdown, five pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.  

Winston's 30-yard interception return in the early minutes ignited a 51-34 Bronco victory against Fresno State. Venable also had a flying, highlight reel tackle in that game and came up big in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl.  With Boise State leading 17-10 and the game on the line, TCU marched from its own one yard-line with 1:06 remaining to the Boise State 30.  With overtime looming, TCU quarterback Andy Dalton threw a pass to the left sideline that was disrupted by cornerback Brandyn Thompson and intercepted by Venable, saving the game for the Broncos with 18 seconds remaining.  

Boise State finished as one of the nation's only two unbeaten teams and was voted fourth in the final USA Today Coaches Poll.



 Kyle Wilson

Wilson had 43 tackles this season, 31 of them solo and 4.5 with loss, one huge sack, three interceptions that he returned for 98 yards and two touchdowns, seven pass deflections and a forced fumble at cornerback for the Broncos.  He was 26th in the nation in punt returns, returning 24 punts for 250 yards (10.4 avg.) and also returned two kickoffs for 32 yards.

Despite having opponents rarely challenge him, Wilson made the most of his opportunities, returning a 27-yard pick for six against San Jose State and a 71-yarder for a touchdown vs. Idaho .   

He made one of the year's biggest plays when he stormed out of nowhere to flatten TCU quarterback Andy Dalton in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl.  The play not only dazed Dalton temporarily but likely affected his play the remainder of the game.

Boise State finished as one of the nation's only two unbeaten teams and was voted fourth in the final USA Today Coaches Poll. 

Wilson was named a semifinalist for the 2009 Jim Thorpe Award which honors the nation's best collegiate defensive back.  He was also a quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy that recognizes student-athletes for performance, academics, community service, integrity, maturity and tenacity.  

Wilson was named All-WAC at cornerback and earned All-America honors on the second team by the Associated Press and the Walter Camp Football Foundation.  He became just the second Bronco to receive All-America honors from the Foundation, joining Ryan Clady who was selected in 2007.  

Wilson played in the 2010 Senior Bowl and at the National Football League Scouting Combine, he posted the #1 bench press among all cornerbacks in the nation.  

Wilson was drafted in the First Round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.


Those are the nominees.  Now go to the Blue Turf Board and vote for the one you think should be honored as the 2009-10 Bronco Male Athlete of the Year!

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