For two USC athletes who have won countless Olympic medals, World Championship trophies, collegiate honors and nationwide praise for their athletic accomplishments, Rebecca Soni (swimming) and Jennifer Song (golf) are no strangers to award ceremonies and nomination announcements.
Nonetheless, two of USC finest student-athletes were chosen this week as two of 14 nominees for the 80th Annual AAU Sullivan Award, in recognition of the nation’s top amateur athlete.
Soni, a senior from Plainsboro, N.J., has the world record in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke. In addition, she has represented the cardinal and gold more than admirably during her time as a Trojan, winning four straight NCAA championships in the 200-meter breaststroke, a record never accomplished by any other collegiate star.
While Soni may be at the top of her sport and en route to smashing a plethora of NCAA and world records, she has a very worthy champion joining her as the university’s premier representations of athletic excellence in sophomore Jennifer Song.
Although Song’s career has not lasted as long as Soni’s — the few short years she has been at USC have already placed her among Trojan lore. In 2009, the Ann Arbor-native won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links and the U.S. Women’s Amateur tournaments, which afforded her the right to play at the LPGA’s U.S. Open. Also, Song made history in her own right, becoming the first golfer in over two decades to win two U.S. Golf Association Championships in the same year.
The dynamic duo’s nominations mark the first year since 2005 in which USC is the only university with two athletes up for the amateur sports’ version of the Oscars. Soni and Song will be recognized at an April 14 ceremony at the New York Athletic Club, where the winner will also be announced.
Past winners of the award include Peyton Manning, Michael Phelps, Carl Lewis and Mark Spitz, to name a few.