Clockwise from top left: Evita Griskenas, Grant Holloway, Kyla Ross and Sabrina Ionescu are all finalists for the AAU Sullivan Award.
The list of AAU James E. Sullivan Award winners since 1930 includes some of the biggest names in U.S. sports history, and the athletes among this year’s finalists hope to be just as big.
Of the ten finalists announced Monday by the Amateur Athletic Union, six have medaled for Team USA in senior international competition: rhythmic gymnast Evita Griskenas, sprinter Grant Holloway, basketball player Sabrina Ionescu, volleyball player Dana Rettke, gymnast Kyla Ross and swimmer Abbey Weitzeil.
Voting is open through March 30.
Griskenas’ dominant performance at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 made her the most decorated individual athlete at the Pan Am Games, winning gold medals in all-around, hoop, ball and ribbon while winning a bronze medal in clubs.
Holloway won three NCAA national championships in a row in 110-meter hurdles at the University of Florida from 2017 to 2019. After completing the threepeat in 2019, he went out and became a world champion in the event a few months later.
Ionescu wrapped up one of the most decorated college basketball careers of all time in 2020. She became the first player, male or female, to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in a career at the University of Oregon. Before her senior season, Ionescu won the gold medal with Team USA in 3x3 basketball at the 2019 Pan American Games.
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Rettke made her first U.S. national volleyball team in 2019, the youngest member of the squad that won the Volleyball Nations League title and later qualified the country for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. A three-time All-American at Wisconsin, Rettke led the Badgers to the national title game in 2019.
It is hard to believe Ross is just wrapping up her college career, since she is an Olympic gold medalist from the Olympic Games London 2012. The 23-year-old had a decorated career at UCLA, adding two more national championships in 2019 to her career total of five. She became the 11th gymnast in history to record a “Gym Slam,” receiving a perfect score of 10 on four apparatuses.
Weitzeil, a gold medalist at the 2016 Olympic Games, added to her decorated college career at Cal in 2019. She was a four-time national champion and Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year while also beating the 50-yard American freestyle record twice.
The winner will be announced at the 90th annual award ceremony in New York on April 21.
Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.