Michigan State goaltender Jeff Lerg has been named one of 11 finalists for the prestigious James E. Sullivan Memorial Award. Presented annually since 1930 by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), the Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States.
Lerg, a 21-year-old junior, was named the Spartans’ Most Valuable Player as he set a Michigan State record for consecutive games played and started among goaltenders, and made 29 saves in the Spartans’ 3-1 win over Boston College in the championship game of the 2007 Frozen Four. He also posted 29 saves in a 4-2 victory against Maine in the semifinals, shutting out the Black Bears in the final 36 minutes.
This season, Lerg sports a 19-8-5 record through Feb. 21 with a 2.25 goals against average and a .922 save percentage. He leads the nation in minutes played among netminders. Lerg, a native of Livonia, Mich., has a 3.74 GPA as a finance major.
Based on the qualities of leadership, character and sportsmanship in addition to athletic accomplishments, the Sullivan Award honors those who have leadership skill and strong character which is evident in his/her lifestyle as a whole.
AAU officials, U.S. Olympic Committee members and college sports information directors are among those who vote for the award, while fans can vote at sports.usatoday.com or on their mobile phones until March 10, with fan balloting counting one-third toward the final vote.
Along with Lerg, the 11 finalists are Brian Duncan, football; Tim Tebow, football; Kristie Marano, wrestling; Robert Pillow IV, basketball; Brad Vering, wrestling; Philippa Raschker, track and field; Angela Tincher, softball; Jonathan Horton, gymnastics; Thomas Finchum, diving; and Jamie Lovemark, golf.
The first honoree, in 1930, was golfer Bobby Jones, and the 2006 winner was Paralympian Jessica Long. Other recent winners include basketball player J.J. Redick, swimmer Michael Phelps, figure skater Michelle Kwan, wrestler Rulon Gardner, basketball player Chamique Holdsclaw, football player Peyton Manning, sprinter Michael Johnson and speedskater Dan Jansen. No hockey player has ever won the Sullivan Award.
The winner of the 2007 award will be announced April 1, 2008.