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Wisconsin Athletes Square off in Awards
ESPN Wisconsin announces its 2012 Sports Awards finalists.
On April 18 at the Harley-Davidson Museum, the winners of the second annual Wisconsin Sports Awards will be announced across 13 categories, ranging from the high school level to the pros. ESPN Wisconsin has revealed the list of nominees for 11 of those categories as determined by more than 100 Badger State media members and sports business professionals.

With 12 nominations – twice the number received by Marquette University and the Packers – the University of Wisconsin holds the best odds of taking home a trophy. The Badgers’ Bo Ryan was one of two coaches to receive multiple individual nominations, and running back Montee Ball was one of four players to do so. Yes, Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Braun are also on that list, as is current NBA player and former Marquette star Jae Crowder.

Six categories include finalists with the potential to repeat as winners. The Packers, Wisconsin’s 2011 Team of the Year, are back in the running for their performance in 2012, alongside the likes of Arrowhead High School football and UW-Whitewater men’s basketball.  And Aaron Rodgers, the pride of Packers Nation, has the chance to retain the crown for Wisconsin’s Player of the Year and Professional Athlete of the Year after taking both titles last year. To do so, he’ll have to beat out teammate Randall Cobb, also a nominee for both awards.

Fans who are interested in attending the event on April 18 have the chance to win two tickets by voting online for the two awards that will be decided by the public: the Time Warner Cable Business Class Fan Friendly Team of the Year and the Potawatomi Game of the Year. Go to ESPNWisconsin.com/FanVote to participate.

Here are the complete lists of this year's finalists in five of the more notable categories:

Professional Athlete of the Year
Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
Randall Cobb – Green Bay Packers
Brandon Jennings – Milwaukee Bucks
Matt Kenseth – NASCAR
Aaron Rodgers* – Green Bay Packers

Coach of the Year
Greg Malling – Arrowhead High School football
Mike McCarthy – Green Bay Packers
Ron Roenicke* – Milwaukee Brewers
Bo Ryan – University of Wisconsin basketball
Buzz Williams – Marquette University basketball

Player of the Year
Montee Ball – University of Wisconsin football
Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
Randall Cobb – Green Bay Packers
Jae Crowder – Marquette University basketball
Aaron Rodgers* – Green Bay Packers

Team of the Year
Arrowhead High School football
Green Bay Packers*
Marquette University men’s basketball
University of Wisconsin men’s basketball
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater men’s basketball

Homegrown Award
(Wisconsin athletes performing in other states)
Matt Kenseth – NASCAR
Steve Stricker – PGA
Dwyane Wade – Miami Heat
J.J. Watt – Houston Texans
Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks

*Indicates 2011 winner.

Nominees for the remaining categories can be found here.

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