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Choosing the greatest Northwestern athlete of all time: Final Four

And then there were four.

Well, the most anticipated event in publication history is here. After four rounds of close battles, blowouts and upsets, only four athletes remain. For such a momentous occasion, here’s a quick summary of the Elite Eight as well as a refresher on each competitor’s résumé.

Sheridan Region

Gretchen Scheuermann’s run to the Final Four gained momentum through the tournament, capped off with her absolute decimation of 3-seed Chelsea Armstrong by a vote total of 889-263. Scheuermann’s fanbase also showed up in her previous victories, perhaps her most notable coming against former Big Ten basketball scoring champion John Shurna.

The Vermont Sports Hall of Famer’s impressive résumé consists of both Big Ten and national recognition. She was named conference MVP and Offensive Player of the Year in 1994 while also being named to two all-American teams in ‘93 and ‘94. She was the first Wildcat field hockey player to win the Honda Broderick Cup Award in 1994. Much like in this tournament, Scheuermann made a run to the Final Four that same year and was a member of the all-tournament team.

Sherman Region

The craziest matchup in the Elite Eight was Pat Fitzgerald’s epic comeback over tennis star Alexis Prousis. I went to bed Saturday night with Prousis up by a ton, but throughout Sunday, Fitzgerald closed the gap and eventually prevailed by a healthy 364-vote margin.

Fitz is the most known out of the four remaining in the bracket. The Chicago native won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, the Nagurski Award, and the Bednarik Award twice in 1995 and ‘96. His playing career saw the ‘Cats reach two major bowl games and win two Big Ten titles. His current status as a Northwestern legend also, of course, is helped by his successful tenure as head football coach, where he has established NU as a solid Big Ten contender.

Orrington Region

No former lacrosse players will be in the Final Four, which is surprising considering the program has won seven national championships since 2005. 2-seed Hilary Bowen fell to softball’s Lisa Ishikawa Sliwa, who decisively garnered 1924 votes to Bowen’s 1101.

The athlete who took down favorite Otto Graham in the Sweet Sixteen, Ishikawa was lights out in the circle, setting NU records in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, and ERA, while throwing a whopping 14 no-hitters throughout her career. She won Big Ten MVP twice, the Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year, the 1985 Southland Olympia Award for best amateur softball player in the country, as well as Northwestern’s Female Athlete of the Decade for the 1980s.

Central Region

Lacrosse’s other Elite Eight participant, Kristen Kjellman, who was coming off a massive victory over Justin Jackson, also lost, this time by more than 500 votes to tennis’s Katrina Adams.

The doubles specialist earned all-American honors twice and brought a doubles national title home to Evanston in 1987 with partner Diane Donnelly. After leaving Northwestern, Adams won 20 WTA Tour Doubles titles across a long career during which she racked up over 400 wins. Her journey saw her take down former quarterback Clayton Thorson, and she enters the promised land the lowest remaining seed.

Let the voting begin! You know the drill by now: Polls close Thursday at 11 p.m. God’s Time, 5 p.m. Hawaiian.

5. Gretchen Scheuermann (Field Hockey, 1991-1994) vs 1. Pat Fitzgerald (Football, 1993-1996)


Gretchen Scheuermann or Pat Fitzgerald?

This poll is closed

  • 84%
    Gretchen Scheuermann
    (2780 votes)
  • 15%
    Pat Fitzgerald
    (522 votes)
3302 votes total Vote Now

4. Lisa Ishikawa Sliwa (Softball, 1984-1987) vs 10. Katrina Adams (Women’s Tennis, 1984-1987)


Lisa Ishikawa Sliwa or Katrina Adams?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Lisa Ishikawa Sliwa
    (1807 votes)
  • 65%
    Katrina Adams
    (3390 votes)
5197 votes total Vote Now