Typically, I list my top Wolf Pack athletes of the year in an annual "Dandy Dozen" column (here is the 2020 version and here is the 2019 version). But this year, I'm turning that job over to the readers. In the coming days, we will let Wolf Pack fans vote on the top athlete of the 2020-21 season. We have put together a 16-athlete bracket and will unveil one matchup per day until a champion is crowned. Readers will get to vote on one matchup every day during a 24-hour voting period until we crown a champion. You can vote on today's matchup on the Twitter poll linked at the bottom of this article.
No. 1 Nicola Ader vs. No. 16 Tierney Wolfgram
Nicola Ader's bio: Ader continued her dominance this season as the German native picked up her seventh All-American honor after finishing 16th in the nation in the indoor pentathlon at nationals, good enough for a second-team award. Ader was originally 17th during the regular season in the pentathlon with the top 16 qualifying but was bumped into the field after an injury to Arkansas State's Camryn Newton-Smith. Ader set a personal record in the pentathlon in the Championships at the Peak in Colorado Springs, Colo., her score of 3,937 being the second best in Wolf Pack history. Ader set the school record in the long jump, besting her own mark with a distance of 6.34 meters, to earn a silver medal at the Rice Twilight (she qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary Round in the long jump). Ader won three medals at the Mountain West outdoor championships, including gold in the heptathlon and bronze in the long jump and high jump (she was fourth in the javelin). Ader qualified for the national outdoor championships in the heptathlon but had to pull out of the meet after three events due to injury.
Tierney Wolfgram bio: A freshman at Nevada who skipped her senior season of high school to join the Wolf Pack a year early, Wolfgram made national headlines by breaking the women’s U.S. junior marathon record in November. The 17-year-old native of Woodbury, Minn., posted a time of 2 hours, 31 minutes, 49 seconds to shatter the previous mark for a female athlete under the age of 19. The old record, set by Cathy O'Brien, was 2:34:32 and had stood since 1984. It was only the third marathon Wolfgram had run. Wolfgram’s time was the 13th fastest of the year by an American woman and tied for the 64th fastest in U.S. history. It was a race specifically organized for her record attempt and included only Wolfgram and two pacers (Wolf Pack male cross country teammates) who ran the course with her. Wolfgram missed the majority of the rest of the season due to an unspecified reason but finished 14th in the 5,000 meters at the MW track and field championships with a time of 16:49.08. While her marathon run wasn't technically as a member of the Wolf Pack, she was named the U.S. track and field athlete of the week after that accomplishment and deserves recognition in our bracket.
You can vote via the Twitter poll below.