So who are these athletes? You've probably heard of one or two. Probably not three. Almost certainly not all four.

Three are sophomores. One is a junior. They hail from Beijing, White Rock, British Columbia, Vadnais Heights and Stockholm.

They dive, pitch and hit, score goals and make layups and block shots.

And they are elite. Not among the best in their sport in the Big Ten but among the very best nationally.

Let's start with the most obscure, or rather least known, and work our way up.

Yu Zhou. She's a sophomore diver from Beijing, in her first year at Minnesota. That's all her bio says when you call up a Gophers swimming and diving roster.

But there's a lot to add. She won the 1- and 3-meter events at the Big Ten meet and was second in platform diving and was named Diver of the Meet.

That was a couple weeks ago. On Friday, she won the 3-meter event at the NCAA meet, one night after taking third in the 1-meter event.

Zhou was tied for seventh after the preliminary round, but charged to the top of the leaderboard.She is coached by Wenbo Chen, a China native who coached the Chinese national team from 1983-91. He has been at the U since 2009.

So that's a little on Zhou, the nation's best college diver.

Who else makes this a golden age at the U?

Sara Groenewegen does. She is the ace pitcher and a big hitter for the No. 15-rated Gophers softball team, which is 25-4.

On Friday, she hit two three-run homers and struck out eight in three innings -- before being replaced in the rout -- as the Gophers beat Illinois 14-2 in their Big Ten opener.

Last season she was the Big Ten pitcher of the year and conference freshman of the year and led the nation in strikeouts per seven innings. This year she is 16-2 with a 1.00 ERA and 175 Ks in 112 innings. She is also hitting .349 with seven homers and 22 RBI.

She was one of 50 players named to an early USA Softball watch list for college player of the year consideration.

Groenewegen is from White Rock, British Columbia.

So that's Groenewegen, a special ballplayer.

Then there is the local star, junior Hannah Brandt whose Gophers hockey team is one win away from a national title.

Brandt, a forward, is one of three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the top player in women's college hockey. The winner will be announced today (Saturday).

There's a good chance it will her. She entered the playoffs second in the nation in goals and points and third in assists, and first with a plus-65 rating. She was the WCHA player of the year.

Brandt, of Vadnais Heights who went to Hill-Murray, scored the first goal and had two assists -- that's all -- as the Gophers beat Wisconsin 3-1 on Friday in the NCAA semifinals.

So there you have possibly the best women's hockey player in college.

And, finally, there's Amanda Zahui B. whose gotten the most publicity of the four.

On Friday, she was named one of four finalists for the Naismith Award, which goes to the best women's college basketball player.

Zahui has had quite the season. Two triple doubles. One game with 39 points and 29 rebounds, followed by a 27-27 game.

The Gophers lost to DePaul 79-72 on Friday in a first round NCAA game, but Zahui had 21 points and 22 rebounds -- an NCAA preliminary round record. It was also her 24th double-double of the season.

She's a 6-5 center from Stockholm, in Sweden.

That's a pretty amazing group. Stars, yes, but a little more than that. Players near the very top of their sport. And their best seasons could still be ahead of them.

All four were competing Friday: Zhou in Greensboro, N.C. Groenewegen in Urbana, Ill. Brandt at Ridder Arena on campus and Zahui in South Bend, Ind.

And, as usual, each stood out.