The first decade of this latest century featured outstanding successes by Mizzou student-athletes in all sports, both in the classroom and on the field of competition. Today, we celebrate the decade that was by paying tribute to the Mizzou Athletics All-Decade Team (2000-09), as selected by MUTigers.com. For each sport, a performer of the decade has been featured, as well as two to three honorable mention selections.
Tiger fans were given the opportunity to select their top male and female athlete of the decade, in a special fan vote, and fans selected Brad Smith and Lindsey Hunter as the Male and Female Athletes of the Decade.
Hunter is Mizzou's all-time leader in total assists with 6,907 during her four-year career and she also holds the school's single-season record with 1,690 helpers during the 2002 season; she also holds three of the top four single-season assist marks in program history. Hunter had 21 matches with 60 or more assists during her career - the next closest Tiger finished her career with nine such matches. Hunter was a First Team All-American in 2004, a three-time All-Big 12 First Team honoree and an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in 2002.
What is even more impressive than her individual accomplishments is what she was able to help the Mizzou volleyball program achieve during her tenure in Black & Gold. She guided the team to four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, three 20-win seasons, three third-place Big 12 finishes and helped guide the 2005 team within two sets from the program's first-ever Final Four appearance. During her four years at setter, Mizzou compiled a 90-33 overall record. The 90 wins were the second-most in a four-year span at Mizzou, trailing only the 1980-83 program which posted 97 wins. What is impressive about that is that from 1980-83, that team played in 20 more matches than Hunter's squad did from, making her squad's 90-33 clip the best winning percentage over a four-year span in school history.
Smith was the first player in the history of the NCAA to pass for 8,000 yards and run for 4,000 yards in career, second player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season, and finished career at Missouri as the NCAA’s all-time rushing record holder for a quarterback with 4,289 yards.
Along the way he thrived in Pinkel's spread offense, including a 480-yard outburst against Nebraska this season. For some reason Smith's greatest moments seem to come against the famed Blackshirts, of whom this year's edition entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation defending the run. Smith amassed 246 yards rushing and 234 passing, as well as scoring three touchdowns on the ground and tossing another one to Tommy Saunders.
Smith earned his degree in business administration and is currently playing professional football for the New York Jets. In his time at Mizzou, Brad Smith proved that he's not exactly just like everyone else. The funny thing is, it had nothing to do with football.
Aaron Crow set a school record by winning 13 games in 2008, which led the nation. That season, he earned the Clemens Award, which is given to the nation’s top pitcher, and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award. He also took home Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and was a Second Team All-American. He finished his career at Mizzou with 23 wins and 277 strikeouts. Crow became Missouri’s highest ever draft pick when Washington selected him with the ninth overall pick in the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft. He did not sign with the Nationals and re-entered the draft in 2009, where he was the 12th overall pick by Kansas City.
MEN’S BASKETBALL: Kareem Rush
Kareem Rush finished his three-year Tiger career as one of the most prolific scorers in school history. Rush averaged 18.9 points over his three seasons and his 19.8 ppg scoring average in 2001-02 is the third-best in school history. The Kansas City native finished his career with 226 career 3-point makes (3rd all-time) and his eight career 30 points games was the most of the decade. Rush also enjoyed tremendous postseason success during his time at Missouri, leading the club to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, including the 2002 Elite Eight. He was named the Big 12’s Freshman of the Year in 2000 and was twice selected a First Team All-Big 12 pick, while earning All-America recognition as a sophomore and junior.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Amanda Lassiter
Amanda Lassiter led the Tigers to a 40-22 record and the 2001 Sweet Sixteen during her career. A 2001 All-Big 12 first team honoree and the 2000 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, Lassiter was a first round pick in the 2001 WNBA Draft. Nine seasons later after she completed her eligibility and despite playing just two seasons at Missouri, Lassiter still ranks in the MU career top-10 in blocked shots (third), points per game (fourth), 3-pointers attempted (fifth), 3-pointers made (seventh), steals (eighth) and scoring (21st). Additionally, Lassiter currently holds the single-game school records for steals (11) and blocked shots (seven).
MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY: Tim Ross
Tim Ross was a two-time NCAA National Championship qualifier, doing so in 2004 and 2006 and if not for an injury during the 2005 season, he would have likely qualified three times. His best finish at the national meet came in 2006 when he finished 126th overall, marking a finish in the top half of nation’s elite runners. Ross was a three-time All-Midwest Region selection to go along with three All-Big 12 honors during his career. Ross finished fifth overall at the 2006 NCAA Midwest Regional while his top performance at the Big 12 Championships was a sixth-place nod in 2004. Ross was also a two-time Academic All-American during his time at Mizzou.
WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY: Amanda Bales
In 2003, Amanda Bales ran to a 23rd-place finish at the NCAA Championships, earning her All-America honors and solidifying her spot atop the women’s cross country All-Decade performers at Mizzou. Bales’ finish at the NCAA Championships during that 2003 season was the program’s best since the 1990 season. She also claimed the NCAA Midwest Regional title during that season and was third overall at the Big 12 Championships that year. Bales is a three-time All-Big 12 and All-Region selection during the decade and was twice honored as an Academic All-American. Bales also took home four Big 12 weekly honors during her career after being names Big 12 Runner of the Week four times throughout her career.
FOOTBALL: Brad Smith
Brad Smith started as a little-known redshirt freshman and became only the second player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a season. In 2003, he ran for 1,406 yards and an MU-record 18 TD’s in helping lead MU to its first bowl game under Gary Pinkel. Included in the eight-win season was MU’s first over Nebraska since 1978. Smith ended his career by leading Mizzou from a 21-point deficit to a 38-31 win over South Carolina in the 2005 Independence Bowl. He left Mizzou holding 69 different school, Big 12 and NCAA game, season and career records, including the NCAA QB rushing record (4,289 yards). He was the first player in NCAA history to throw for 8,000 yards and rush for 4,000 in a career.
MEN’S GOLF: Peter Malnati
Peter Malnati had 17 top-25 finishes in his career at Missouri. He led the Missouri men’s golf team with an 18-hole stroke average of 73.00 in 2008-09, claiming nine top-25 finishes and five top-10's, highlighted by a runner-up finish at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate. He was selected to the NCAA Regionals as an individual, finishing in a tie for 21st place at the NCAA Regional in Stillwater. Malnati was a finalist for the 2009 Byron Nelson Award, which honors a graduating player for academics, golf and citizenship over his college career. He was a three-time Academic All-Big 12 selection and was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Third Team.
WOMEN’S GOLF: Amelia Moses
Amelia Moses was named an NGCA Honorable Mention All-American in 2001 after she set then-school records for season (75.03) and career (76.67) stroke average. Moses was the first All-American in Missouri women’s golf history. She became MU’s first-ever conference champion when she claimed the 2000 Big 12 Championship and she nearly missed repeating in 2001, when she was defeated in a playoff. Moses claimed six individual titles during her career, including a win at the Texas Tech Red Raider Classic as a freshman in 1997. Four of her medalist honors came during her senior season.
GYMNASTICS: Sarah Shire
As soon as Sarah Shire transferred to Missouri her sophomore year, she began making an immediate impact on the program record books. After being named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in 2008, Shire won an unprecedented 10 all-around titles in 2009, including the Big 12 all-around title and Big 12 co-titles on vault and beam. Her current all-around career high (39.575) is the second highest in Missouri gymnastics history. Her successful junior campaign earned her numerous accolades that included NCAA South Central Region Gymnast of the Year, Co-Big 12 Gymnast of the Year, six-time Big 12 Gymnast of the Week, as well as All-America first team status on vault at the 2009 NCAA National Championships.
SOCCER: Kristin Andrighetto
One of Missouri’s most decorated soccer players, Kristin Andrighetto helped the Tigers compile a 52-28-6 record over four years, the best four year period in program history. She was an integral part of Mizzou’s only two conference titles, the 2009 Big 12 Regular Season title and the 2008 Big 12 Tournament title. One of two players in program history to earn All-Big 12 first time honors three times, Andrighetto was a All-America fourth team selection by Soccer Buzz in 2007. She concluded her Mizzou career ranked first in shots (379) and shots on goal (165), second in goals (38), tied for second in points (96) and seventh in assists (20).
SOFTBALL: Micaela Minner
A three-time All-Midwest Region and All-Big 12 honoree, Minner finished her career with a .357 batting average and .627 slugging percentage, which are both third-best in school history. She smacked a school-record 55 doubles, while she stands second in career walks (95) and third in career hits (230), home runs (40) and RBI (180). As a redshirt freshman (2005) and junior (2007), Minner led her teammates with a .388 and .366 batting average, respectively. As a redshirt senior in 2009, Minner helped the Tigers to their first Women’s College World Series appearance in 15 years, defeating No. 1 seeded UCLA en route to an eighth-place finish in the final poll of the season – the highest Missouri softball ranking in program history.
MEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING: Matt Ferrarelli
Came to Mizzou from Retford Notts, England and established himself as one of the top male swimmers of all time in the Tiger program. To date, is the only male to win an individual Big 12 championship in swimming, and he did it twice, taking the 400 individual medley gold in both 2001 as a sophomore, and again as a senior in 2003. Also made a splash on the national scene, as he won All-American honors in the 400 IM in 2003, based on his 14th-place finish at the NCAA Championships. That made him the first male swimming All-American at Mizzou since 1979. Also an outstanding scholar, who was a multi-time academic All-American, as well as an academic All-Big 12 selection.
WOMEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING: Kendra Melnychuck
Ended her Tiger career in 2009 as the most decorated women’s diver in the last three decades of the program, as she was a three-time NCAA All-American. Earned the honor twice as a junior in 2008, thanks to a 10th-place finish at the NCAA Championship on the 10-meter platform, while she also took home All-American honors that same year with an 11th-place showing on the 3-meter board. Closed her career in style, earning her third All-American honor with an 8th-place finish at the 2009 NCAA Championships at 3-meters. Those achievements made her only the second diving All-American in women’s program history. Claimed the Big 12 3-meter championship in 2008, and qualified for the NCAA finals each of her last three years.
TENNIS: Urska Juric
Urska Juric was the decade’s most dominant tennis player at Missouri, finishing her career 83 wins and a .654 winning percentage during her four seasons in Black & Gold. Juric twice appeared in Missouri’s top singles wins list, including a remarkable 30-8 campaign in 2003. Juric also dominated the doubles scene and her .760 winning percentage in doubles play ranks #2 all-time at Mizzou. She joined Katka Sevcikova from 2002-04 in winning three consecutive All-Big 12 doubles honors and was an All-Big 12 performer in singles play during that span as well. Juric completed her eligibility at Mizzou as the only three-time All-Big 12 performer in school history and is second all-time with 95 doubles wins and third with those 83 career singles triumphs.
MEN’S TRACK & FIELD: Christian Cantwell
Shot putter Christian Cantwell saw plenty of success during his time as a student-athlete at Mizzou, but it is what he has done as a post-collegiate that truly sets him apart. Since his time at Mizzou, Cantwell has ranked among the World’s elite shot putters and has claimed three IAAF World Championships in the event, becoming one of only two athletes in the World to accomplish that feat. The highlight of his career came at the 2008 Olympics, were he finished as the shot put Silver Medalist. Also, following the 2009 outdoor season, Cantwell was ranked as the No. 1 shot putter in the World by Track & Field News. Cantwell was a seven-time All-American as a collegiate at Mizzou.
WOMEN’S TRACK & FIELD: Ann Marie Brooks
A five-time All-American, Ann Marie Brooks is the women’s track & field All-Decade performer. As impressive as her five All-America honors are, Brooks’ career was highlighted by a 2001 Indoor National Championship in the distance medley relay, the second and most recent national title by the women’s track & field program. That distance medley relay time ran the world’s fastest time in the event that season. Brooks also claimed four Big 12 titles during the decade, doing so in the distance medley relay (2001), the 3,000m run (2001, 2002) and the 5,000m run (2001).
VOLLEYBALL: Lindsey Hunter
J. Vander Kooi
After starting all four years at setter, Lindsey Hunter is Mizzou volleyball’s All-Decade performer. Hunter holds three of Mizzou’s top four single season assist marks, including the all-time record of 1,690, set in 2002. Her 6,907 career assists are also the most in program history, more than 1,000 ahead of the next closest Tiger, and are second all-time among Big 12 setters. Hunter had 21 matches with 60 or more assists during her career - the next closest Tiger finished her career with nine such matches. Hunter was a First Team All-American in 2004, a three-time All-Big 12 First Team honoree and an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in 2002.
WRESTLING: Ben Askren
After becoming Missouri’s first wrestling National Champion in 2006, the four-time All-American and three-time Big 12 Champion capped off his collegiate wrestling career with another 174-pound National title in 2007. The Hartland, Wis., native ended his career at Missouri with an 87-match winning streak, the longest in program history. Askren still owns records for most career wins (153), career falls (91), career technical falls (15), season falls (29) and best winning percentage (.950). He finished first or second all in the country all four of his seasons, and was just the second wrestler in NCAA history to win the coveted Dan Hodge Trophy multiple times ('06, '07). Askren was crowned Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year in 2007, and Missouri’s most outstanding wrestler from 2004-07.