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December 15, 2009

2009 Season - Westemeyer breaks mold in winning Gagliardi

In a historic and unprecedented move, the Jostens Company has named Augustana senior offensive tackle Blaine Westemeyer (Blue Valley Northwest HS, Overland Park, Kansas) as the winner of the 2009 Gagliardi Trophy. The Gagliardi Trophy goes annually to the NCAA Division III Outstanding Football Player of the Year.

Until this year the Gagliardi (pronounced Guh–LAR-dee) Trophy has been almost the exclusive property of skill position players on offense. The Gagliardi Trophy was first awarded in 1993 and of the previous 16 winners, 15 have been played either quarterback, running back or wide receiver. There has been one defensive player and that was in 2004 when strong safety Rocky Myers of Wesley College took home the honor.

That will all change on Thursday evening, December 17 in Salem, Virginia when the Jostens Company will ask Westemeyer to step to the podium and receive the 2009 Gagliardi Trophy. He will become the first ever offensive lineman to win the award, which goes to “a student-athlete who excels in three areas: football, academics and campus/community service”.

Westemeyer just finished a stellar career at Augustana and he excelled in all three areas cited in the description of the award. He is a two time American Football Coaches Association first team All-American, a two time ESPN – The Magazine Academic All-American as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) and his “free” time is spent in a variety of community involvement, most notably with Heartland Hospice.

Augustana head football coach Jim Barnes, who has been involved at the NCAA Division III level for almost 30 years, had this to say about his standout player. “Blaine is clearly the greatest player I have been associated with or coached,” said Barnes who has racked up a record of 73-40 in 10 years at his alma mater. “I have never seen a player who so clearly dominates his position. In addition, he is by far the most humble ‘achiever’ I have ever been associated with in sports. He goes about his business, with great success academically and athletically, quietly and without any fanfare.”

It will be hard for Westemeyer to escape from the notoriety that the Gagliardi Trophy will bring. In addition to being named the top player in NCAA Division III, the fact that he wins the honor while toiling in the relative obscurity of the offensive line, indeed propels him into rarified air.

He has done it all while keeping both feet planted firmly on the ground. Augustana President Steve Bahls had this to say about Westemeyer. “I confess that what I find most impressive about Blaine is his demonstrated commitment to servant leadership. In addition to his steadfast engagement with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee both for our college and the conference, and with Augustana’s Athletes Giving Back organization, Blaine’s volunteerism with Heartland Hospice – a local provider of care for those facing terminal illness – is nothing short of inspirational for me.”

A starter from almost the time he set foot on the Augustana campus in the fall of 2006, Westemeyer has challenged the toner levels of any printer that prints a listing of his accomplishments. It is a lengthy and impressive list and it rivals any that has ever been compiled in the storied annals of Viking athletics.

Westemeyer was recently awarded an $18,000.00 William V. Campbell Post-graduate Scholarship by the National Football Foundation at a banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. There were just 16 players, encompassing all divisions, to win this award and only two came from NCAA Division III.

Last week he was honored as the Jack Swartz Award winner in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin. It is the third straight year that he has earned the prestigious award. At the end of November he was named to the ESPN – The Magazine Academic All-American team by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Westemeyer repeated his first team selection of 2008 and the announcement came in the same week that he was named first team all-conference in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin for the third straight time.

A four year starter at offensive tackle, Westemeyer was a big reason why the Vikings consistently ranked in the top 10 in NCAA Division III in rushing offense during his first three years. This year Augustana threw the ball quite a bit more and Westemeyer was a big factor as sophomore quarterback David Lee (Springfield HS, Springfield, Ill.) erased the legendary Ken Anderson, former NFL MVP, from the school record books twice. He also shared the team’s Most Valuable Offensive Player award with Lee.

Westemeyer, who has been nominated for an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, was an all-North Region selection in 2008 and was named to the NCAA Division III All-American team by the American Football Coaches Association both as a junior and again this year. He was also a consensus pre-season All-American.

Four times he has been an academic all-conference pick and he is a nominee for the NCAA Top VIII Award for the 2009-10 school year. A team captain in 2009, he helped the Vikings finish the season with a 6-4 overall record and a 4-3 mark in the CCIW, good for third place.

Westemeyer, an Austin E. Knowlton Scholar, is a biochemistry/pre-medicine major with a sterling grade point average of 3.94. He is the son of Brian and Nancy Westemeyer of Overland Park, Kansas. He was the Vikings freshman offensive MVP in 2006. Westemeyer is an active member of the Student Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C.) and Athletes-Giving-Back (A.G.B.).

PAST WINNERS OF THE GAGLIARDI TROPHY (as presented by the Jostens Company)

YEAR – PLAYER, POSITION, SCHOOL

2009 – BLAINE WESTEMEYER, OFFENSIVE TACKLE, AUGUSTANA

2008 – Greg Micheli, Quarterback, Mount Union

2007 – Justin Beaver, Running Back, Wisconsin-Whitewater

2006 – Josh Brehm, Quarterback, Alma

2005 – Brett Elliott, Quarterback, Linfield

2004 – Rocky Myers, Strong Safety, Wesley

2003 – Blake Elliott, Wide Receiver, St. John’s

2002 – Dan Pugh, Running Back, Mount Union

2001 – Chuck Moore, Running Back, Mount Union

2000 – Chad Johnson, Quarterback, Pacific Lutheran

1999 – Daniel Ragsdale, Quarterback, Redlands

1998 – Scott Hvistendahl, Wide Receiver/Punter Augsburg

1997 – Bill Borchert, Quarterback, Mount Union

1996 – Lon Erickson, Quarterback, Illinois Wesleyan

1995 – Chris Palmer, Wide Receiver, St. John’s

1994 – Carey Bender, Running Back, Coe

1993 – Jim Ballard, Quarterback, Mount Union

THE BLAINE WESTEMEYER LEDGER: 2006-09

GAGLIARDI AWARD WINNER – 2009 (given to top player in NCAA Division III who shows best combination of athletic prowess, academic excellence and community involvement)

NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION WILLIAM V. CAMPBELL POST-GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP - $18,000.00 scholarship given to just 16 players nationwide (across all divisions)... Blaine was one of just two NCAA Division III players so honored

AMERICAN FOOTBALL COACHES ASSOCIATION (AFCA) ALL-AMERICAN (1 st team) – Named two years in a row: 2008 & 2009

ESPN – THE MAGAZINE ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN (as named by CoSIDA) - Two time first team honoree

ESPN – THE MAGAZINE ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT (as named by CoSIDA) - 1 st team in 2008 & 2009 and third team in 2007

ALL-CONFERENCE SELECTION IN COLLEGE CONFERENCE OF ILLINOIS & WISCONSIN (CCIW) – Three time first team selection: 2007 – 2008 – 2009

D3 FOOTBALL.COM ALL-NORTH REGION – Selected two years in a row: 2008 & 2009

JACK SWARTZ AWARD BY CCIW – Three time winner in 2007 – 2008 – 2009...Award is given to one male and one female athlete at each school in CCIW at the end of each athletic season...Blaine is only three time winner in CCIW history.

NCAA DIVISION III PRE-SEASON ALL-AMERICAN – Consensus selection in both 2008 & 2009

TAZON de ESTRELLAS (Bowl of Stars) PARTICIPANT – Selected to play on “Team Stars & Stripes” with NCAA Division III all-star team at Tec de Monterrey Campus Estado de Mexico against the Mexican All-Stars

OFFENSIVE MVP 2009 – Selected by his teammates to be the 2009 Augustana “Offensive MVP”

FRESHMAN MVP 2006 – Selected by his teammates in fall of 2006 to be the team’s Most Valuable Freshman on offense

NCAA POSTGRADUATE NOMINEE – 2009-10 school year...Winners will be named in January of 2010

NCAA TOP VIII AWARD NOMINEE – Winners will be announced at 2010 NCAA Convention

TEAM CAPTAIN – Captained 2010 Augustana team along with teammates Jake Parke, Aaron Setchell and Preston Jones

FELLOWSHIP OF CHRISTIAN ATHLETES – Active member of Augustana chapter

STUDENT ATHLETE ADVISORY COMMITTEE – Currently holds down role as vice-president

ATHLETES GIVING BACK – Organization which devotes time and effort to reaching out to the Quad City Community

HOSPICE VOLUNTEER

PROCTOR IN CHEMISTRY & ORGANIC CHEMISTRY

FOUR YEAR STARTER AT OFFENSIVE TACKLE

ACADEMIC ALL-CONFERENCE IN CCIW – Four year selection: 2006 – 2007 – 2008 – 2009

STATISTICAL NOTES : In 2007 the Vikings finished the season fifth in NCAA Division III in team rushing with 299.7 yards per game...Augustana led CCIW in rushing three times while Westemeyer was a starter: 2006 (261.8 ypg)...2007 (299.7 ypg)...2008 (204.6 ypg)...Helped Vikings win 21 st CCIW title in school history in 2006...Augustana was 25-15 in Westemeyer’s career.

NOTEWORTHY : Carries 3.93 grade point average with major in bio-chemistry...Will graduate Summa Cum Laude in May of 2010.