Castro Receives NCAA Top VIII Award

Dec. 17, 2007

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Roberto Castro, a four-time All-American and four-time all-conference golfer, has been named one of eight recipients of the Top VIII Award by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the organization announced Monday.

The NCAA honors eight student-athletes each year out of nominees from every sport, recognizing those who excel in their sport, in the classroom, and exhibit high character, leadership and service to others. These student-athletes will be recognized at the NCAA Honors Celebration on Sunday, January 13, at the 2008 NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tenn.

Castro, who graduated last spring with high honor in industrial engineering and won the 2007 Byron Nelson Award, is just the second men’s golfer ever to win an NCAA Top VIII Award – the other was the Yellow Jackets’ Bryce Molder in 2002. They also are the only two Georgia Tech athletes ever to be so honored.

Also honored this year are Rachel Buehler of Stanford (human biology), an all-Pac-10 soccer star; quarterback Dennis Dixon of Oregon (sociology), a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien and Maxwell Awards; volleyball player Sarah Pavan of Nebraska (biochemistry), a three-time first-team All-American; swimmer Ben Wildman-Tobriner of Stanford (biomechanical engineering), who has earned 20 All-American honors; Lisa Winkle of Calvin College (mathematics/secondary education), an All-American in basketball and in track and field; diver Jamie Wolf of Clarion University, a seven-time Division II national champion; and Sarah Zerzan of Willamette University (chemistry), a three-time All-American in track and field and a two-time Division II national champion in cross country.

“I’m very honored that the NCAA would recognize me, because I know how many amazing athletes there are all across the country,” said Castro. “What’s more impressive, though, is that only two men’s golfers have ever won this award, both are from Georgia Tech, and both played for Coach (Bruce) Heppler. I think that speaks volumes about the type of people he brings to the program, and the values he instills in his players.”

A three-time All-America selection, including first-team honors in 2005, Castro was named All-ACC four times and has played in two Palmer Cup Matches, serving as U.S. captain in 2005. He recorded his first collegiate tournament victory as a senior and posted five other top-10 finishes. Castro was named a Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar each of the last two years.

“It’s really special, and I can’t think if what higher honor there could be,” said Tech golf coach Bruce Heppler. “Among the winners have been Heisman Trophy winners, Olympic Gold medalists, and they are really the best and the brightest the NCAA has to offer. It’s a credit to Roberto’s focus and his desire to excel in all areas. He’s probably the most efficient student-athlete that I’ve ever coached as far as being able to get so much done in a day. He had a lot of ambition before he ever started here, and showed a lot of maturity from the recruiting process on.”

One of the nation’s outstanding amateur golfers as well as an outstanding student and leader, Castro was one of the most successful golfers in Tech’s tradition of outstanding players. The Alpharetta, Ga., native was a two-time Academic All-American and an Academic All-ACC selection. He served on the Georgia Tech Student-Athlete Advisory Board and was active in the community, including Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and the Michael Isenhour Toy Drive. He graduated May 5 with highest honor in Industrial Engineering.

He was one of four Tech recipients of the 2007 Weaver-James-Corrigan Post-Graduate Scholarship Award, given by the ACC each year, and received the 2007 Total Person Award, the highest honor given by the Georgia Tech Athletic Association for excellence in academics, athletics, leadership and service.

Castro finished his career with more than 20 top-10 finishes and more than 30 top-20 efforts and one of Tech’s five best career stroke averages.

The list of past recipients of the Top VIII Award includes Heisman Trophy winners Pat Haden, Archie Griffin, Doug Flutie, Ty Detmer, Gino Torretta and Danny Wuerffel, Olympic swimmers John Naber, Tracy Caulkins and Jenny Thompson, basketball All-Americans Darrell Griffith, Cheryl Miller, David Robinson and Rebecca Lobo, and Olympic volleyball player Karch Kiraly.

The Top VIII Award winners are selected by the NCAA Honors Committee, which comprises eight athletics administrators at member institutions and nationally distinguished citizens who are former student-athletes.

Members of the committee are: Gene Corrigan, former Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner; Timothy W. Gleason, (chair) commissioner, Ohio Athletic Conference; Stephanie Harrison-Dyer, associate director of athletics/compliance coordinator, Albany State University (Georgia); Calvin Hill, consultant, Jerry Jones and the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys; Jackie Joyner-Kersee, former University of California, Los Angeles, track and field student-athlete and Olympian; Gibbs Knotts, faculty athletic representative, Western Carolina University; Julie Powers Ruppert, senior woman administrator and associate commissioner, America East Conference and Barbara Walker, senior associate director of athletics/senior woman administrator, Wake Forest University.

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