SUWANEE, Ga. (August 4, 2022) – The Division III Commissioners Association (DIIICA) announced its regional winners for the inaugural DIIICA Student-Athlete of the Year awards Thursday and it was another clean sweep for the Stevens Institute of Technology Department of Athletics as alumni. Gina Dello Russo and Brett Kaliner were recognized as the winners from Region IV.
Dello Russo, representing women’s track & field, and Kaliner, representing wrestling, will advance to the national ballot, alongside Student-Athletes of the Year from each of the nine other regions. The inaugural DIIICA Student-Athletes of the Year will be announced later this month. Stevens swept the four MAC Freedom nominations, which were announced in July.
The DIIICA Student-Athlete of the Year Award honors male and female student-athletes who have exhausted their athletic eligibility (graduating seniors or graduate students who have not been nominated in previous years are the only eligible student-athletes). These student-athletes exhibit excellence both in the classroom and in competition, while also serving their local communities.
Selection criteria for the awards included considerations based on academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership and a personal statement submitted by each nominee.
Dello Russo was a six-year member of the track & field program, who rewrote the program record books throughout her tenure at Castle Point. A 14-time All-American across three events (200- and 400-meter dashes and the long jump), Dello Russo won the 2021 outdoor 400-meter dash championship to become the program’s fourth national champion. She totaled six Athlete of the Year awards across two conferences and claimed conference titles in 13 disparate events and concluded her career as the holder of 11 conference records.
Dello Russo’s work in the classroom is equally impressive. She posted a 3.94 grade-point average as an undergraduate, earning her degree in engineering management and went on to complete a master’s in mechanical engineering with a perfect 4.00 and is now pursuing a doctorate in socio-technical systems – a program she began while winning a national championship. Dello Russo is a five-time Academic All-District selection by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) and a three-time Academic All-American. She earned a pair of Academic All-MAC honors and was the 2021 MAC Outdoor Track & Field Senior Scholar-Athlete. Dello Russo was also a Top 30 honoree for the 2020 NCAA Woman of the Year award.
“We’re incredibly excited to see Gina be recognized with this award,” assistant track & field coach John Kolibab said. “Gina had one of the most illustrious careers in Stevens Athletics history with 14 All-America honors and a National Championship. She was also able to show off her versatility in her final season by becoming the first person in program history to garner All-America honors. honors in multiple disciplines (sprints and jumps).”
“Not only was Gina an incredibly accomplished athlete at Stevens, she was also indispensable as a leader,” Kolibab continued. “Gina was a captain for five consecutive seasons and was the gold standard of what it took to be an elite athlete on and off the track. She inspired, and continues to inspire, a whole new generation of Stevens track and field student-athletes with the example she set. While she will be sorely missed, and it is impossible to replace an athlete like Gina, we are truly grateful for all she did for our program.”
Kaliner put an exclamation point on his distinguished career on the mats with a perfect 29-0 season during his final season at Castle Point, culminating with a 4-2 decision over Baldwin Wallace’s Michael Petrella at 149 to earn the program’s first national championship. The 2018 D3Wrestle and Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year, 24 of Kaliner’s 29 victories during the 2021-22 season came with bonus points and he improved his career record as a Duck to a remarkable 143-13. The 2022 Middle Atlantic Conference Wrestler of the Year, Kaliner is also a four-time regional champion, a four-time conference champion and a five-time All-American.
Kaliner also showed his prowess in the classroom, achieving a 3.92 GPA as an undergraduate, while earning his degree in business & technology. He then went on to complete his master’s degree in financial analytics and finished with a 3.95 GPA. The 2021 Middle Atlantic Conference Wrestling Senior Scholar-Athlete, Kaliner was recognized by the National Wrestling Coaches Association as a Scholar All-American in each of his five seasons on the mats. The West Chester, Pennsylvania native was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American and earned four Academic All-District honors. Kaliner also served as the Sponsorship Chair of StevensTHON. Kaliner was the lone wrestler recognized by the DIIICA as a Regional Student-Athlete of the Year.
“There is not much left to say about Brett that hasn’t already been said,” head wrestling coach Joe Favia said. “He is the epitome of our standards within Stevens Wrestling. Brett has become the poster child for the recruitment of future Stevens wrestlers, and his continued collection of recognitions from across the country, both in wrestling and academia, are a testament to that designation. “
“This amazing honor is going to an individual who is more than deserving,” associate head wrestling coach Anthony Bonaventure added. “Brett helped raise the standard of both our wrestling program and the athletic department. He has had a strong presence within the Stevens community during his five years and his work ethic and attitude were infectious. He was an outstanding leader and I am happy to see him continue to get recognition for all he accomplished during his career. I know he will continue to be a positive force in his professional career from the habits he created in pursuing excellence, on and off the wrestling mat, at Stevens.”
Additionally, Dello Russo and Kaliner are two of just 17 student-athletes in school history to earn multiple Academic All-America selections. Dello Russo is one of four Ducks to conclude their time in Hoboken as a three-time Academic All-American, while Kaliner was the first Academic All-American in program history.
Voting was conducted by conference commissioners within each of the 10 regions. Region IV consisted of student-athletes from the City of New York Athletic Conference, the MAC Freedom, the New Jersey Athletic Conference and the Skyline Conference.
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