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July 9, 2012All-Americans, professional draft picks, a bevy of first-team All-Big Ten selections and some conference champions highlight our annual list of Purdue's athletes-of-the-year.
We hit No. 5 on our series today, as GoldandBlack.com takes a subjective look at the top 10 Boilermakers from 2011-12.
Bio: A junior golfer with a penchant for coming up big
Summary: Although Purdue's golf team had competed for NCAA Championships the last few seasons, and won one, it wasn't expected to be one of the contenders this year.
But Gonzalez-Escallon made sure the Boilermakers were once again in the thick of things, as her one-under par at the NCAA Championships was good for a third-place tie, helping 29th-ranked Purdue to ninth place. For her efforts, the La Hulpe, Belgium native was named a second-team All-American for the second straight year, after a third-place NCAA finish in '11 when Purdue finished runner-up.
Gonzalez-Escallon won her second Big Ten Championship medal this season, a fifth straight overall for Purdue, which helped the Boilermakers place second in the conference. This season, Gonzalez-Escallon was named Big Ten Golfer-of-the-Year, first team All-Big Ten for the third time, the Mary Fossum Award winner for low stroke average in the Big Ten, Big Ten All-Championships team and Big Ten Golfer of the Week twice.
She earned eight top-10 finishes this season, including the conference title and two runner-up places. She was outside the top-15 only once and tied a 16-year-old school record for low round by shooting a 65 in February.
Analysis: With the performance of the women's golf team the last dozen years - seven straight top-10 finishes for the Boilermaker program, which has advanced to the NCAA Championship for 13 consecutive years - the top golfer is usually one of the top-10 athletes.
The only question is, how high?
Gonzalez-Escallon, who came to the NCAA ranked No 20 in the world, is consistently good. But it's hard to argue that she does find another gear when the lights are brightest, winning consecutive Big Ten medals and placing so high nationally at the NCAA's biggest meet.
No. 10: Ricardo Allen
No. 9: Jennifer Rabot
No. 8: Brittany Rayburn
No. 7: Joe Haase
No. 6: Leah Eber
No. 5: Laura Gonzalez-Escallon
No. 4: Tuesday
No. 3: Wednesday
No. 2: Thursday
No. 1: Friday
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