Feb. 23, 2009
[ONE // indiana women tops in big ten pool]
Congratulations to the Indiana women’s swimming and diving team as it captured the Big Ten Championship this past weekend at the Canham Natatorium in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Hoosiers clinched their fourth conference crown and their second in the last three seasons by totaling 823 points to runner-up Minnesota’s 665. Penn State (429), Michigan (414) and Wisconsin (405) finished in the top five, while Purdue (290), Northwestern (253), Ohio State (236), Iowa (137), Michigan State (111) and Illinois (93) rounded out the field. Included in the ndividual highlights was Indiana senior Christina Loukas, who captured her sixth career Big Ten title by winning the three-meter springboard competition with a total of 400.75 points. In relay competition, Minnesota's 800-free relay (Jenny Shaughnessy, Meredith McCarthy, Yuen Kobayashi and Christine Jennings) dominated the event from start to finish, winning its fourth-straight Big Ten 800-free relay event title.
[TWO // individual swimming and driving honors awarded]
At the conclusion of the Big Ten Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships, several postseason honors were handed out to student-athletes and coaches. Among those receiving accolades were Indiana’s Christina Loukas (Diver of the Year, Diver of the Championships), Kate Zubkova (Swimmer of the Year) and Ray Looze (Swimming Coach of the Year), Minnesota’s Jenny Shaughnessy (Swimmer of the Championships), Purdue’s Adam Soldati (Diving Coach of the Year), and Wisconsin’s Ashley Wanland (Freshman of the Year). First and second-team All-Conference honorees were also announced and can be found by clicking here.
[THREE // hawkeye grapplers perfect once again]
For the first time since the 1999-2000 season, the top-ranked Iowa wrestling team has gone undefeated in dual competition and Sunday’s 34-13 win at No. 19 Northwestern clinched yet another Big Ten Championship for the squad. Iowa improved to 24-0 on the season with a win and completed a perfect 8-0 mark in conference competition. The Hawkeyes have posted 12 undefeated seasons in school history and the 2009 season has produced the most victories ever. The defending NCAA Champions now have their eyes on the Big Ten Championships and another run at the national title.
[FOUR // northwestern tennis claims ita championship]
Speaking of Big Ten teams ranked tops in the country, the No. 1 Northwestern women's tennis team became the first conference squad to capture the elusive Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Women's Team Indoor title this past week. The Wildcats posted a 4-1 victory over No. 6 Georgia at the A.C. Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison, Wis., last Monday. In only its 11th appearance in the tournament, Northwestern became just the sixth school overall to win the ITA Team Championship in the 22-year history of the event. Ten of the tournament's previous 21 winners went on to capture the NCAA championship in the same season.
[FIVE // big ten baseball opens season with a “challenge”]
The Big Ten opened the 2009 baseball season last Friday at the Big East-Big Ten Challenge in St. Petersburg, Fla. Each of the Big Ten’s 10 baseball-playing schools took part in the challenge and faced off against eight Big East opponents. Michigan State earned the league bragging rights as it topped Connecticut, 4-3, in the first game of the inaugural challenge. The Big Ten Network tracked the progress of the conference’s teams this past week and posted summaries from each day’s action: Friday | Saturday | Sunday.
[SIX // one magical team, thirty years later]
Michigan State University celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the 1979 NCAA Championship men's basketball team this past weekend. Former MSU coach Jud Heathcote joined players Magic Johnson, Greg Kelser and others at halftime of the Wisconsin game when the Spartans were honored for the milestone season. They also took time to talk with the media about their memories of their championship campaign, and what it meant 30 years later. That audio can be found on the MSU website by clicking here.
[SEVEN // buckeye pitcher earns national acclaim]
Ohio State pitcher Kim Reeder was honored as the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Week for the week of February 9-15. Reeder, who also earned Big Ten weekly honors, helped lead the Buckeyes to a five-game sweep of the Easton Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge, La., and was named the Tournament MVP after compiling a 3-0 record in the circle with wins against No. 13 Texas A&M and No. 20 LSU.
[EIGHT // williams and weil wow on the diamond]
Two other Big Ten softball players were impressive on the diamond as Northwestern senior Tammy Williams broke the Wildcats’ career record for hits over the weekend, surpassing Garland Cooper's (2004-07) mark of 265. Williams went 4-for-4 in a loss and now owns NU's career records for hits and runs while also ranking first in career batting average for the 'Cats. In other news, Iowa senior Brittany Weil became just the second pitcher in school history to throw two no-hitters in a single season as Iowa knocked off host-school Kennesaw State, 8-0, in five innings at the K-Club Classic on Sunday. Only four Kennesaw State batters reached base in the game and she struck out 12 of the 19 batters she faced. Weil joins former Hawkeye all-American Debbie Bilbao as the only pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a season.
[NINE // big ten thinking pink]
The Big Ten announced this past week it will team up with the Pink Ribbon Connection for the “Big Ten Thinks Pink” event as an initiative to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. The conference office will donate a portion of every semifinals ticket purchased for this year’s Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament to the Pink Ribbon Connection. The 2009 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament will be held at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, March 5-8, with the semifinals taking place on Saturday, March 7. For more information on the promotion, view the official press release by clicking here.
[TEN // btn reports from nfl combine]
This weekend was a very busy and important weekend for former Big Ten football players as they spent several days trying to impress future employers at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The Big Ten Network has been in Indianapolis throughout the combine and has produced several insightful and interesting segments on the conference standouts in attendance and what the experts are thinking. Several of those video clips, most of which involve one-on-one pieces with former players, can be viewed by clicking here.
[ELEVEN // the loss of a giant… and a spartan]
Finally this week, the Big Ten learned of the passing of former Michigan State Spartan Brad Van Pelt, who was a five-time Pro Bowl player (1976-80) with the New York Giants and helped form one of the NFL's best linebacking corps in the early 1980s. He was 57. Van Pelt was taken by the Giants in the second round of the 1973 NFL Draft and played 11 of his 14 seasons with New York. Despite being drafted as a pitcher by the St. Louis Cardinals while in college, Van Pelt dominated the sidelines in East Lansing. He was named an All-American safety in 1972 and became the first defensive player to win the Maxwell Award as the nation's top player. He was inducted into the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000 and the College Football Hall of Fame the following year.