The University of Denver's captain last season, tough right-winger Mark Rycroft, would have been the Pioneers' top returning goal scorer this fall were it not for the two-year contract he signed this spring with the St. Louis Blues of the NHL. Six feet tall and 197 pounds, the 21-year-old led DU in game-winning goals, penalty minutes (87) and hard checks. He leaves school after his junior year because he cannot resist following his dream to play big league pro hockey.

The University of Denver's captain last season, tough right-winger Mark Rycroft, would have been the Pioneers' top returning goal scorer this fall were it not for the two-year contract he signed this spring with the St. Louis Blues of the NHL. Six feet tall and 197 pounds, the 21-year-old led DU in game-winning goals, penalty minutes (87) and hard checks. He leaves school after his junior year because he cannot resist following his dream to play big league pro hockey.

Best University of Colorado football player

Daniel Graham

A six-three, 240-pound junior, Daniel Graham may well be the fastest tight end in college football, but he sat out three games last year due to injury. Still, he had nineteen receptions for 264 yards and four touchdowns in 1999, and the Football News named him to its All-Big 12 first team. Blessed with soft hands as well as speed and good blocking ability, he should be a mainstay in coach Gary Barnett's offense this year and a sleeper for national honors.

Best University of Colorado football player

Daniel Graham

A six-three, 240-pound junior, Daniel Graham may well be the fastest tight end in college football, but he sat out three games last year due to injury. Still, he had nineteen receptions for 264 yards and four touchdowns in 1999, and the Football News named him to its All-Big 12 first team. Blessed with soft hands as well as speed and good blocking ability, he should be a mainstay in coach Gary Barnett's offense this year and a sleeper for national honors.

This year, junior distance runner Shane Rogers of Wilcox, Arizona, was the Mountain West Conference champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and he won the flat 3,000-meter run at the Air Force Classic, against Oklahoma, Colorado State and Stanford. He's even swifter (and clears higher hurdles) in the classroom: As a physics major at the Air Force Academy, Rogers carries a 3.58 grade-point average and is a member of the U.S. Track Coaches Association's all-academic team.

This year, junior distance runner Shane Rogers of Wilcox, Arizona, was the Mountain West Conference champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and he won the flat 3,000-meter run at the Air Force Classic, against Oklahoma, Colorado State and Stanford. He's even swifter (and clears higher hurdles) in the classroom: As a physics major at the Air Force Academy, Rogers carries a 3.58 grade-point average and is a member of the U.S. Track Coaches Association's all-academic team.

The winner, and still the champ.

Readers' Choice: Mile High Stadium

The winner, and still the champ.

Readers' Choice: Mile High Stadium

Best college athlete you've never heard of

Kara Wheeler

An All-American at the University of Colorado, Kara Wheeler won both the 3,000- and 5,000-meter events in early June at the NCAA Track and Field championships at Duke University. Only former CU star Adam Goucher has earned more national track titles (three) for the school, and Wheeler was the first CU runner to win multiple events at the same meet. CU's female athlete of the year ran the second-fastest 3,000 in the world this year and qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in July.

Best college athlete you've never heard of

Kara Wheeler

An All-American at the University of Colorado, Kara Wheeler won both the 3,000- and 5,000-meter events in early June at the NCAA Track and Field championships at Duke University. Only former CU star Adam Goucher has earned more national track titles (three) for the school, and Wheeler was the first CU runner to win multiple events at the same meet. CU's female athlete of the year ran the second-fastest 3,000 in the world this year and qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in July.

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