Anyone with a position in athletics will tell you that one of the best parts of the job is getting paid to watch sports. With another decade behind us, we got to thinking - who were the most dominating athletes of the 2000s? In little time, the names were flying about. A number of wrestlers came to mind; runners dominated the discussion; who could forget the women's basketball players or softball players. There is no doubt that many current athletes could have been thrown in the discussion. Eventually after a while, the list was whittled to 20 names.
After a week of research and consultation among our esteemed panel, the top 10 was created. Each will have his or her own opinion on who was left off; who should have been higher; who shouldn't have been quite as high. Proceed with this caution - our process was very unscientific. Most of our ranking was done completely on feel and trying to compare one sport's stats to another is not all that easy. Our other note to consider is that the only consideration for our list was the athlete's on-the-field performance for the Green Terror during the 2000-09 decade. Nothing else weighed in our decision-making process.
We start an alphabetical listing of those 10 finalist who ended up just on the outside looking in of our top 10.
Becky Arnold, Field Hockey, 2000-03
Keyed by a first-team All-Centennial Conference season in 2002, it's hard to argue that Arnold was the best field hockey goalkeeper of the decade. Her junior campaign of 2002 was perhaps the best the program has seen and was good enough to not only earn her first-team all-conference and All-America accolades but also her team the conference championship. In her four-year career between the pipes, she finished with a 1.17 goals-against average - the second-best total all-time. Her 425 saves are fourth all-time.
Brittany Baer, Lacrosse/Soccer, 2007-09
The only active athlete on the list, Baer's career will conclude in the next decade but her body of work in this one gets her a mention. Three seasons on the soccer pitch netted Baer 20 goals and eight assists and All-Centennial Conference (CC) honors in 2008. Injuries limited her time on the field as both a junior and senior but she still ranks 12th on the all-time goal-scoring list and 13th on the points list.
On the lacrosse field, however, few have dominated the way Baer has over the final two seasons of the decade. With just two years on the field for the Green Terror, she already has her name on the top two lines of the single-season goal-scoring list, breaking her own record of 63 with 76 tallies in 2009. Her 139 career goals in just two seasons already ranks sixth all-time, 39 shy of the program record. With 24 assists, she is also seventh on the points list with 163. It's not just scoring where Baer has excelled. She also has 107 career draw controls - third all-time - that included a program-record 60 in 2009. Her play as a sophomore earned her second-team all-conference honors before being named first-team All-CC and first-team all-region in 2009.
Jamie Falcone, Track and Field, 2000-01
Arguably one of the most dominant female sprinters ever on the Hill, Falcone was the 2001 Faith Millard still holds the program record in five events. A six-time outdoor champion in the 100 and 200, she garnered five indoor conference titles. Her 2001 outdoor marks of 11.9 in 100 and 24.02 in the 200 are still the best by a Green Terror and CC sprinter while her 2001 CC Indoor championship times of 7.19 (55), 26.03 (200) and 59.95 (400) still stand atop in the program record book. Her 55-meter time remains as the conference record. She also has a part of three relay records for the Green Terror, including the outdoor 4x100 where she part of nine of the 10 best times in program history. In 2000, she earned All-America accolades with a sixth-place finish in the 100 at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championship.
Jamie "Boo" Harris, Football, 2000-01
Only the final two years of Harris' career fall into the decade, so only those two seasons have been considered for his place in this decade. As the starting signal caller, he capped both his junior and senior seasons with Centennial Conference (CC) Offensive Player of the Year honors, throwing for more than 1,500 yards and running for more than 650 yards both years. In 2000, he led the Green Terror to its fourth consecutive CC championship behind one of the program's most prolific seasons for a quarterback. His 2,510 yards of total offense that year still ranks third, throwing for 1,587 yards (10th all-time) and running for another 923 (eighth all-time). He threw 18 touchdowns and ran for another 10. In 2001, he threw for another 1,595 yards with 21 touchdowns while running for 656 yards and 10 scores. In his final two seasons, he was responsible for 59 touchdowns - the most this decade.
Michelle Mullen, Soccer/Lacrosse, 2003-07
The 2007 Alumnae Award winner, Mullen made her mark between the pipes on the soccer field. The all-time win leader with a 35 victories as a goalkeeper in her four years as the starting netminder. In addition to her 35-32-2 overall record, she backstopped the defense with a program-record 23 shutouts. Her sophomore campaign when she finished with a program-best 0.79 goals-against average and .854 save percentage earned her first-team All-CC honors. In 2005, she was the second-team All-CC goalkeeper before earning first-team all-conference and third-team all-region accolades as a senior. In addition to her 1.41 career GAA and .816 career save percentage, she added a pair of assists.
Mullen's springs on the Hill were slightly different than her falls. She moved from her place between the pipes to the field during four years on the lacrosse field. A three-year starter, she finished with 63 career goals and 23 career assists for 86 points. She became the first Green Terror player to reach triple digits in draw controls and her 117 are currently best in program history. She also finished with 118 ground balls, which is currently tied for seventh all-time, and 34 caused turnovers.
Ryan Shotzberger, Baseball, 2001-04
Almost without question, Shotzberger would be considered by most as the best hitter the Green Terror saw during the decade - especially over his final two years as the starting shortstop. A career .380 hitter, 80 of his 90 hits came during his final two seasons on the Hill. He finished with a .726 career slugging percentage, rapping out 23 doubles, 10 triples and 13 home runs. Each of those totals are second all-time except the home runs, which ranks third. He scored 85 runs and drove in 63 more - both totals of which are top 10 all-time. His 41 runs scored in 2004 still ranks tops all-time while the 76 total bases that season are also second. As a junior, he recorded 75 total bases to own two of the top three marks in that category. He added 14 stolen bases in 16 attempts and an .877 fielding percentage.
Chris McNally, Wrestling, 2000-02
Dan Patterson, Wrestling, 2001-05
Vinny Pedalino, Wrestling/Soccer, 2000-02
Drew Reinecker, Wrestling/Football, 2000-05
Any one or more of these four names could have made it into the top 10 but just missed out so we'll group them together as honorable mentions. Between the quartet of wrestlers from the first half of the decade, there were 12 CC individual championships that spanned the weight gamut. From Pedalino and Patterson in the lightweights to McNally and Reinecker at the heavy end, the group also accounted for a pair of runner-up finishes and three All-America accolades. Pedalino (125) and Reinecker were in the title bouts in each of their conference championship appearances. All three of Pedalino's titles came this decade and Reinecker dominated heavyweight in the conference from 2003-05. McNally (197) and Patterson (133) had three championships as well. Patterson added a runner-up finish at 141 in 2004.
Adding Pedalino's soccer career to the mix still kept him just outside our top 10 even though few would argue if he had made the cut. However, only with only his final two seasons counting in this decade, the 15 goals and 18 assists weren't quite enough to sway the scales.
And, now for the top 10...
No. 10: Thomas Kane, Soccer, 2001-05
Likely the reason Pedalino just missed the cut is Kane and his 2004 Centennial Conference Player of the Year honor.
The argument could be made that before Kane made his debut on the pitch, the Green Terror hadn't seen a better goal-scoring soccer player in 40 years. After tallying 13 goals and four assists through his first two seasons, Kane broke out in 2003 for 19 goals and seven assists - numbers that hadn't been seen since the 1950s when George Varga and Denny Harmon dominated the pitch. That single-season earned Kane the third-highest goal and point total in program history, culminating with CC Player of the Year honors and second-team All-Mid-Atlantic Region accolades. Kane finished his career with 48 goals, 18 assists and 114 points. His final totals for goals and points rank third all-time - behind only Varga and Harmon.
No. 9: Toby McIntire, Basketball, 2000-04
Probably one of the most debated names on our list. Is she top 10 material? Should she be higher? Ultimately, we elected to put her just into the top 10 based on some intangible factors, including as a point guard who knew how to take over a game.
Not always the dominate scorer on the basketball floor but McIntire ran the Green Terror show for four seasons. A key part of the team's first two CC championships, McIntire is still the all-time assist and steals leader. The only player with more than 105 assists in a single season, McIntire did it twice, including 160 as a senior, breaking her own mark of 123 from a year earlier. She eclipsed the 60-steal mark all four years. Her final collegiate total of 463 assists is 131 more than any other Green Terror player while her 269 steals tops the list by 11. The 2004 Faith Millard award winner, she still ranks in the program's top 20 in scoring (760) and rebounding (496).
No. 8: Kim Camponelli, Field Hockey/Softball, 2000-04
The two-sport success she had could not be ignored, placing her in this position on our list.
The all-time leading goal scorer in field hockey history, Camponelli was named All-CC all four years. As a freshman and sophomore, she was named to the second team before elevating to the first team as a junior and senior when she led the Green Terror in scoring both seasons. Her 15-goal, 34-point senior campaign still ranks at the top of the single-season list. She finished her career with 35 goals and 22 assists for 92 points - all of which are in the top two all-time and is the program's only two-time All-American, earning the honor in both 2002 and 2003.
The CC's Pitcher of the Year in 2002, Camponelli was one of three Green Terror softball players to date who are four-time first-team all-conference selections. Her 2002 season was one of the best in program history. She finished the season with a 17-1 record and 0.83 earned-run average - the best single-season ERA ever on the Hill. Her 48 career victories in the circle are second only to Sam Abrams. She did her share of the work with the bat too, finishing with a .313 career batting average that included 103 hits, 69 runs scored and 56 RBIs.
No. 7: Joe Ellis, Football/Lacrosse, 2000-03
The margin between fifth and eighth was so miniscule that one person's No. 5 could be another's No. 8. Ellis ended up seventh even though with All-America accolades not seen by few others, legitimate arguments could have been made to move him higher.
The only three-time All-American in the history of Green Terror men's lacrosse, Ellis etched his name in the record books during his tenure on the Hill. His freshman campaign was his only that didn't culminate with All-America accolade. However, it didn't take Ellis long to make a name for himself. Just 10 games into his collegiate career (Apr. 15, 2000), the Green Terror made a trip to Haverford. In that game, Ellis tallied 10 goals and 14 points as part of his 51-goal, 77-point rookie season. For an encore, he turned in a 63-goal, 98-point sophomore campaign. That 63-goal total still ranks second all-time for a single season. Ultimately, he finished with 193 goals and 303 points - totals that still rank second all-time. His 110 assists is sixth all-time while his 237 ground balls are the most in the recorded history of the program.
Likely lesser known for his football career, Ellis did make some contributions on the gridiron as well. As a receiver, he caught 87 passes this decade for 1,149 yards. He also caught 13 touchdowns. However prior to 2002, postseason stats did not count in a player's final season totals. Ellis added 16 catches and 206 yards in the Green Terror's two playoff games in 2000. Ellis still has his place in the football record book, standing fourth in receiving touchdowns, fifth in receptions and sixth in receiving yards.
No. 6: Samantha Abrams, Softball, 2001-04
It was likely because she only a one-sport athlete that Abrams fell to sixth on the list. Few have dominated in a softball circle like Abrams did during her tenure but the top five was tough to crack on this list.
Abrams still ranks at the top of the Green Terror softball record books in career earned-run average at 1.42, finishing her tenure with a record of 60-19. Her 60 wins is also tops in program history as are her 28 shutouts. A .351 career hitter, she finished with 176 career hits that included 44 doubles and 10 home runs. She scored 123 runs and accounted for 83 runs batted in. A four-time first-team All-CC selection, Abrams earned the top honor in 2003. She hit .339 with four home runs and 21 RBIs to become one of just four juniors to be named Player of the Year.
No. 5: Tony Howard, Wrestling, 2004-06
There has been no shortage of great wrestler on the Hill as evident by the quartet of names in our honorable mentions. Any one of those names could have replaced Howard's in this spot - or any other within the top 10. However, it was Howard's dominance over his opponents on the mat and stellar regular-season record in just two years that gave him the nod at No. 5.
After several years off, Howard returned to the mat in 2004-05 and racked up a record of 40-5. His 88.9 winning percentage is a bit deceiving since four of his five losses in a Green Terror singlet came at the NCAA Division III Championships. A two-time conference champion, he earned All-America honors both seasons he wrestled. In 2004-05, he went 13-2 overall, finishing fifth at 174 pounds in the national championship meet. As a senior, he finished 27-3 and placed seventh at 165 on the national stage.
No. 4: Jill Krebs, Cross Country/Track and Field/Swimming, 2000-02
Overall, she likely goes down as the best distance runner of the decade and quite possibly one of the best distance runners in program history and probably even as one of the top runners, period.
The 2002 Faith Millard Award winner, Krebs is much more known for her running ability than her ability in the pool. A four-time All-CC performer, Krebs finished no worse than seventh in any of her four CC championship meets, including a fifth (2000) and seventh (2001) this decade. She is one of only four runners in the history of the conference to accomplish the feat. In 2000, she repeated an appearance at the NCAA Division III Championship meet. While there, she made it back-to-back All-America honors with the best finish by any Green Terror runner at the national meet (18th) with a time of 18:30.4 over the 5K course. Krebs still stands as the only All-American in program history and still lays claim to the program's best 5,000-meter time (17.40.4), turned in at the 1999 Division III championship, and the four best 5K times and two of the top three 6K times ever.
On the track, she still ranks in the top five all-time in four events. In addition to ranking fifth in the 1,500 and second in the 3,000, she still holds the program records in the 5,000 (18:04.78) and 10,000 (37:55.4).
Between her time on cross country courses in the fall and tracks in the spring, Krebs spent time in the pool. Her name still stands on the program's all-time top-10 lists in two events - the 200 butterfly and 400 individual medley.
No. 3: Kristy Costa, Basketball/Track and Field, 2002-06
In some decades, what Costa accomplished would have earned her an even higher ranking. However with the two names above her, there's no shame in placing third.
One of five Green Terror basketball players to join the 1,000-point club this decade, Costa averaged double figures each of her final three seasons on Hill and finished with 1,268 points, a total which is ninth all-time. She pulled down 600 rebounds (eighth all-time) and converted 318 free throws (second all-time). A career .705 free-throw shooter, she also shot .494 from the floor.
The 2006 Faith Millard award winner, Costa did even more in the spring than in the winter to appear on our list. The two-time outstanding field athlete at the CC Outdoor Track and Field Championships brought home six medals in those two events. In 2004, she won both the heptathlon (3,982 points) and discus (113 feet, 4 inches) and finished second in the javelin. As a senior, she again won the discus (132 feet, 10 inches) but finished third in the javelin. However, it was the heptathlon that nearly stands on its own. She put up a program-record 4,263 points, which at the time set a new CC mark in the event. Her conference record stood until this past season.
No. 2: Broderick Maybank, Football/Track and Field, 2002-06
The biggest debate came down to who would be one and who would be two on this list. There was very much a split reaction to which one should end up in which position and, in all honesty, we couldn't go wrong either way. There was little doubt in anyone's mind that Maybank was the top male athlete of the decade but for the purposes of our list, someone had to be No. 1 and someone had to be No. 2.
Two words should be enough for Maybank - national champion. However, there's more to the story than just a long jump national championship. Maybank also made a name for himself on the football field, particularly in 2004 when he earned the CC Offensive Player of the Year honor after his 1,200-yard, six-touchdown season out of the backfield. His 1,925 career rushing yards still ranks sixth all-time. He also found the end zone 14 times during his four seasons on the gridiron.
There's more than just a football career - a lot more, in fact - that earned Maybank this spot on our list. Yes, he was the department's 2006 John Alexander Medal winner but there's a reason for that. In 2004, he became the Green Terror's seventh national champion in any sport and the third in track and field. A leap of 24 feet, 5 inches on a May afternoon in Decatur, Ill., at Millikin University forever engraved his name into Green Terror lore. It was not just a national championship that defined his jumping career on the Hill. Maybank finished his collegiate days with eight CC titles, three outstanding conference meet performers nods and two more All-America honors. In 2004 and 2006, he earned the CC Outstanding Field Performer of the Meet at the indoor championship and earned the same title at the outdoor championship in 2006. Six of his conference titles came outdoor - three in the long jump (2004, 2005, 2006) and three in the triple jump (2003, 2005, 2006). He added five indoor titles, winning the long jump in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and the triple jump in 2004 and 2006. He was also an All-American at the Division III championships indoor in 2004 and outdoor in 2005.
No. 1: Kelly Cramp, Basketball/Golf, 2000-05
Almost without question, the most dominating female athlete of the decade and one of the top female athletes of all-time on the Hill, Cramp tops our list for her sustained dominance on the golf course and her contributions to three women's basketball championships, which would have likely been even more prevalent if the team around her wasn't dominant in its own way.
When your name is as firmly implanted in the golf record book as Cramp's is, a basketball career is almost a sidebar - almost. A key part of all three of the Green Terror women's basketball CC titles to-date, Cramp undoubtedly has the most NCAA experience of any athlete to don Green and Gold. One of 12 players to reach the 1,000-point mark, she currently ranks sixth on the all-time scoring list with 1,312 points. But that's not the end of her top-10 rankings - games played (116, 1st), games started (115, 1st), free-throw percentage (.817, 2nd), 3-pointers made (103, 4th), steals (188, 6th), field goals made (524, 7th), assists (249, 8th).
As impressive as her basketball career was on the Hill, it was the golf course where Cramp made her name known. The only four-time champion in the history of the CC, Cramp led the Green Terror women's golf team to its first four conference titles. Cramp still owns the lowest round ever shot in the conference championship - 75 during the first round of the 2004 tournament. In 2004 and 2005, her play earned her a spot in the NCAA Championship, where she finished in the top 10 both times. In 2004, she fired a four-round total of 324 to finish ninth and earn first-team All-America honors before shooting a 325 as a senior to finish tied for 10th and earn second-team All-America accolades. The fifth and final Faith Millard Award winner on our list, Cramp was the 2005 recipient of the department's top honor for a female athlete.