The 77th annual Sports Star of the Year awards program, presented by ROOT Sports, is Wednesday at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle (200 University Street). Tickets are available at benaroyahall.org or by calling 206-215-4747.
Launched as the Man of the Year banquet in 1935 by late Seattle Post-Intelligencer sports editor Royal Brougham, the show grew into the P-I Sports Star of the Year program in 1977 and expanded again in the early 1990s, when the newspaper began recognizing the area's greatest female stars as well as male.
Following closure in March 2009 of the print P-I, one of the region's top sports traditions was in jeopardy of ceasing.
But with the help of the Seattle Sports Commission and Seattle Children's Hospital, the Sports Star of the Year celebrated its 75th year on the big stage at Benaroya Hall in 2009. More than 1,000 people attended.
A winner will be selected from these five nominees for the male award by online voting on the commission's web site. To read more about this year’s nominees, go to this page. NATHAN ADRIAN, Swimming A 2008 Olympic gold medalist swimmer from Bremerton, Adrian captured the 50-meter race at the 2011 National Aquatics Championships and earned a bronze in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay. Adrian also won his fifth and sixth national championships in the 50-meter freestyle during the Summer and Winter Nationals. Adrian also won the 100 freestyle at Winter Nationals.
Adrian, 23, holds the USA short-course national record at 50 and 100 meters. At the 2008 Olympics, he swam in the heats of the 4×100 freestyle relay and earned a gold medal when the United States won in the final.
Adrian has won 12 medals in major international competitions -- 10 gold, one silver, and one bronze -- spanning the Olympics, World and Pan Pacific championships.
Three golds came at the Long Course World Championships in Rome (2009) and Shanghai (2011).
His biggest medal haul was at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships, when Adrian won golds at 50 meters and 100 meters, and in the 4x100 freestyle and 4x100 medley relays.
A 2006 graduate of Bremerton High School, Adrian began swimming at age 5, influenced by an older sister, Donella, who swam for Arizona State, and an older brother, Justin, who swam at Washington.
A five-time individual NCAA champion, Adrian is a pre-med student at the University of California at Berkeley (he received his undergraduate degree from Cal), and is a favorite to win multiple gold medals in the 2012 London Olympic Games. JESHUA ANDERSON, WSU Track & Field When Anderson enrolled at Washington State University in 2007, he intended to participate in football and track. He showed tremendous potential as a freshman wide receiver (12 catches, 172 yards, two touchdowns) and started in 11 of WSU’s 12 games as a sophomore. But in September of his junior year, Anderson abandoned football and focused on track as a 400-meter sprinter and 400-meter intermediate hurdler, perhaps spurred on by the fact that at the 2008 World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Anderson won a gold medal in the 400 hurdles and 4x400 relay.
Since then, Anderson has consistently performed at a world-class level. He won the 400 meters and 400-meter hurdles at the 2011 Pac-10 championships in May, followed by winning the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the latter qualifying him to run in the IAAF World Championships. Anderson set a personal best at 400 meters May 2, 2009 in Seattle, clocking 46:08. He established a personal best in the 400 meters on June 26, 2011, 47:93, at Eugene. As good as Anderson is (he first appeared on the Star of the Year ballot in 2008 , it would take a major upset in the voting for him to win a Star of the Year award for 2011. A male track and field athlete hasn’t won since 1963, when University of Washington pole vaulter Brian Sternberg, in the aftermath of setting three world records, shared the award with Mt. Everest conqueror Jim Whittaker.
CHRIS POLK, UW Football Few running backs in University of Washington football history had a more productive career than Chris Polk. When the junior announced Jan. 2 he would bypass his senior season and enter the NFL draft (he already earned a bachelor’s degree in American ethnic studies), Polk had set an avalanche of records.
He finished as the No. 2 rusher in Husky history with 4,049 yards, just 57 behind 1994 Star of the Year Napoleon Kaufman, joined Kaufman as the only runners in school history to post three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, and set a UW record by rushing for 100 or more yards in 21 games.
Polk is the only back in school history to average more than 100 rushing yards per game in a single season.
The biggest game of his career, statistically, was in the 2010 Apple Cup when Polk ran for 284 yards against Washington State. In 2011, Polk led the Huskies in rushing attempts (293), yards (1,488) and touchdowns (12), which earned him a spot on the All-Pac-12 first team.
Polk’s most memorable performance occurred Oct. 29 at Husky Stadium, when he scored a career-best five touchdowns in a 42-31 victory over Arizona.
Polk’s UW career came to an end in the Alamo Bowl, when he ran for 147 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown.
If Polk wins a Star of the Year award, he would become the first Husky football player so honored since Jake Locker in 2009, and the first UW running back to win since Kaufman in 1994. ISAIAH THOMAS, UW Basketball Isaiah Thomas could have possessed every significant scoring record at Washington had he opted to remain for his senior season. Instead, Thomas departed the Huskies after his junior season to enter the NBA draft (selected in the second round by the Sacrmento Kings).
Despite an early, predictable exit, Thomas carved one of the more remarkable careers in Husky basketball history.
A 5-9 guard, with the ability to play the point and the shooting slot, Thomas scored 1,721 points during his Husky career (2009-11), the sixth-highest total in UW basketball history.
His 16.4 scoring average ranked third in school history among guards, behind only Louie Nelson’s 23.0 (1973) and Brandon Roy’s 20.2 (2006). Thomas also produced 29 20-point games, No. 5 on the UW career list, and 92 10-point games, No. 3 in UW annals.
Thomas tallied a career-high 30 against Wright State Nov. 13, 2009, had a career-high nine rebounds against Stanford March 12, 2009, and a career high of 13 assists Jan. 16, 2011, against California.
Named to the All-Pac-10 Freshman team in 2009 after averaging 15.5 points per game, Thomas twice directed the Huskies into the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. As a senior, he led the Huskies in points (16.8), assists (6.1), steals (1.3) and minutes played (1,115).
Following his junior season, Thomas was named first-team All-Pac-10 (second consecutive year so honored), an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America, and was a Wooden and Naismith candidate and one of 10 Cousy awards finalists.
CHRIS WILLIAMS, UW Golf In just two seasons, the junior out of Moscow, ID., established himself as one of the top golfers in University of Washington history. Currently ranked ninth in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Williams represented the USA in the 2011 Walker Cup, in which he went 1-1 in foursome action while teaming with UCLA's Patrick Cantlay, and 1-0 in singles matches.
Williams captured two of the three events that make up the 2011 Western Swing: He won the Sahalee Amateur Players Championship by one stroke after firing 1-under 287 and also won the Pacific Coast Amateur with 11-under 277.
Williams also qualified for the 2011 United States Open at Congressional (missed the cut by two strokes).
Williams is the second Husky ever to represent Washington in the Palmer Cup (Brock Mackenzie is the other) where he went 2-0-2 in four matches, and he is the first Husky to ever win Pac-10 Freshman of the Year (2010).
Williams has recorded 13 top-10 finishes, which equals the fourth most in UW history, and he owns two of the top-5 single-season stroke averages in team history.
Williams’ best 18-hole score is 63, which he fired in the third round of the 2010 Pac-10 Championships.
Prior to enrolling at Washington, Williams was a four-time Idaho High School 4A champion and a four-time North Idaho Golfer of the Year.
Williams graduated from Moscow High School and helped his team win the 2009 state championship.
As a Husky freshman in 2010, Williams received the Phil Mickelson Award, honoring the nation’s top freshman golfer. ------------------------------------------------- The Seattle Sports Star of the Year awards program is at Benaroya Hall Wednesday. Created by Royal Brougham and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1936 and currently presented by the Seattle Sports Commission, the Star of the Year recognizes professional and amateur athletic achievement. Tickets are $35 (show only) and $75 (pre-show reception and show). Each can be purchased at benaroyahall.org or by calling 206-215-4747. The $75 ticket includes admission to the show and the reception where complimentary beverages, including beer and wine, and heavy appetizers will be provided. You can find more information here.