University of Connecticut senior center Tina Charles, a member of the most dominant women’s basketball team in college history, and University of Oregon senior heptathlete Ashton Eaton, who eclipsed one of track and field’s longest-standing records, have been named the United States Sports Academy’s Athletes of the Month for March.
Charles enjoyed a record-setting month for the Huskies, who extended their women’s record win streak to 78 straight games with a berth in the Women’s Final Four. They capped off their season earlier this month with a second straight undefeated season and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship.
In helping UConn reach that pinnacle again, Charles became her school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, passing such legendary names as Nykesha Sales (scoring) and Rebecca Lobo (rebounds). She was also named an Associated Press first-team All-American and the Big East Player of the Year.
Eaton broke Olympic gold medalist Dan O’Brien’s NCAA indoor record in the heptathlon, a mark which stood for 17 years. Eaton finished the seven-sport event with 6,499 points, eclipsing O’Brien’s record of 6,476. Eaton ran a personal-best time of 2 minutes, 32.67 seconds in the 1,000 meters to establish the new record.
Finishing second for the women was American skier Lindsey Vonn, who clinched her third consecutive overall World Cup championship. She also had titles in the downhill, Super-G, and combined events. She was the first woman to win three straight overall titles since Petra Kronberger of Austria (1990-1992). She finished the World Cup season with a U.S. record 11 wins.
Duke University guard Nolan Smith was the runner-up in the men’s category. He scored a career-high 29 points in the Blue Devils’ 78-71 win over Baylor in the South Regional, lifting Duke to its first Final Four since 2004. Smith was named the Most Outstanding Player of the regional. Duke went on to win the NCAA championship earlier this month over Butler.
Finishing third were Baylor freshman center Brittney Griner, who was the Most Outstanding Player in the Memphis Regional after leading the Bears to the Women’s Final Four. She averaged 16.8 points, 8 rebounds and 8.8 blocks in four games that included victories over third-ranked Tennessee and sixth-ranked Duke.
Taking third for the men was United States shot putter Christian Cantwell, who became the first man to ever win three IAAF World Indoor Championships in the shot put. His winning toss of 71 feet, 6 inches gave him the 2010 title, following up on championships in 2004 and 2008.
Athlete of the Month winners are eligible to be included in the Academy’s Athlete of the Year ballot at the end of the year.
The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nominating and balloting processes. Visit the Academy website and fill out the nomination form, and return to the website the first week of each month to vote on the Athlete of the Month. Winners will be announced on the Academy’s website and in the online edition of the Academy Update.