Feb. 29, 2008
by Jeff Smith
[ONE // minnesota women crowned champs of the pool]
In a week full of Big Ten Championships, we first take a look back and congratulate Minnesota for its win at the Big Ten Women's Swimming and Diving Championships last Saturday. The Golden Gophers scored 660.5 points to post their first conference title under co-head coaches Terry Nieszner and Kelly Kremer. Minnesota defeated No. 11 Michigan (609), No. 19 Indiana (513) and No. 13 Penn State (477) to claim its third overall conference crown.
Arguably the best individual performance of the meet was turned in by Michigan junior Emily Brunemann in the 1650-yard freestyle. The All-American shattered the previous conference record by nine seconds with a time of 15:51.29, which is currently the top time in the nation. Following the Championships, she was honored as the 2008 Big Ten Swimmer of the Year.
In other postseason awards, Indiana's Brittney Feldman (Diver), Minnesota's Jillian Tyler (Freshman) and Northwestern's Jimmy Tierney (Swimming Coach) all won the conference's yearly awards, while Northwestern's Andrea Hupman, Indiana's Feldman, and Michigan's Chris Bergere were honored with Swimmer, Diver and Diving Coach of the Championships, respectively. For more postseason honors, click here.
[TWO // now it's the men's turn]
The 2008 Big Ten Men's Swimming and Diving Championships got underway on Thursday, with the fourth-ranked Michigan Wolverines taking a commanding lead in their home pool at Canham Natatorium. Michigan won four of the six events, highlighted by the 200-yard freestyle relay, which was the team's first title in the event since 1927. Behind Michigan's 344 points, was Indiana (250), Ohio State (204) and defending conference champion Minnesota (181). For more on the Big Ten Championship, follow live coverage and recaps here, courtesy of the Big Ten Network.
[THREE // women battle for track title this weekend]
It's time to get out of the pool and dry off, but our attention is still Big Ten Championship related and still with the Golden Gophers. Minnesota is set to host the 2008 Big Ten Women's Indoor Track & Field Championships this weekend, March 1-2, at the University Fieldhouse in Minneapolis. The action starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday with championship events beginning at noon on Sunday. The Golden Gophers, who are the defending conference champions, are one of three Big Ten teams ranked in the top 10 of the latest U.S. Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll. Michigan leads the contingent ranked fifth, followed by No. 7 Minnesota and No. 8 Penn State. Follow along with the Big Ten Network this weekend and make sure to check out the BTN's Athletes to Watch.
[FOUR // wisconsin men look to defend men's track title at home]
Like Minnesota, the defending conference track and field champions on the men's side will have a chance to defend their title on their home track this weekend. Wisconsin will host the 2008 Big Ten Men's Indoor Track & Field Championships this weekend, March 1-2, in the Camp Randall Memorial Sports Center. The heptathlon will kick things off at 10 a.m. on Saturday and finals will be held on five events on the first day of competition. On Sunday, action begins at 10:20 a.m. Coverage of the 98th edition of the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championship can be found here. Michigan has won the most indoor titles with 26, but Wisconsin has won the past seven and is looking for a conference record eighth-consecutive win this weekend to improve its overall total to 22. For more on the success of the Badger track program, check out the feature on Ed Nuttycombe that ran this week on bigten.org.
[FIVE // spartan's brown nation's consensus top golfer this week]
Congratulations to Michigan State senior Sara Brown, who was honored Tuesday as both the Golfweek and GolfWorld National Player of the Week in women's golf. Brown was recognized for her impressive individual win at the Central District Invitational on Feb. 18-19, an event the Spartans also won. She nearly lapped the field by seven strokes to card a 4-under-par 212 (70-70-72), which was the second-best 54-hole score in school history. This is Brown's second national weekly honor as she was acknowledged by Golfweek on Oct. 30, 2006.
[SIX // another spartan honored for classroom in success]
Another Spartan was honored on Tuesday, but this was for success in the classroom. Michigan State senior guard Drew Neitzel was named to the 2008 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America second team. The Spartan leader, who averages nearly 14 points a game and is second in the country with a 3.16-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, is the fifth player to earn the honor in the school's basketball history. The interdisciplinary humanities major owns a 3.27 grad-point average.
[SEVEN // speaking of honors in the state of Michigan]
Simply put, she has done it again. She being Michigan gymnast Lindsey Bruck, and it being winning Big Ten Gymnast of the Week. But this week's honor was a special one. The fifth-year senior recorded her third weekly award of the season and ninth of her career, which ties the conference record held by tying former teammate and Olympic Team captain Elise Ray. This past week, Bruck captured her third all-around title on the year with a season-best score of 39.425, while helping her team stay undefeated at 11-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten.
[EIGHT // one of the nation's top freshmen is a buckeye]
Voters nationwide must take a serious look at Ohio State center Jantel Lavender for National Freshman of the Year. On Thursday, Lavender scored a career-high 36 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and notched six assists in the No. 18/22 Buckeyes' win over Penn State. The 36 points is tied for fourth all-time in school history and her 16 boards gave her a new school freshman single-season record of 275 rebounds. Additionally, she has now extended her double-figure scoring streak to 28 games and has posted 11 double-doubles on the year. Lavender was highlighted Friday on bigten.org as part of the conference's Black History Month campaign.
[NINE // golden gophers take home big ten superfan cup]
We are closing in on the end of the regular season in women's basketball, which means it is time again to award the annual Big Ten SuperFan Cup. The conference office announced Thursday that Minnesota was named the recipient of the sixth annual award, which is given to the school that most effectively increases its ticket sales for the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament. This year the Golden Gophers increased their all-session ticket sales to the tournament by 43 percent, issuing a total of 200 all-session tickets, compared to 140 to last year's event. For more on just how Minnesota earned such a large increase, follow this link.
[TEN // wildcats atop the women's tennis rankings]
After notching two wins against top-10 opponents last weekend, the national women's tennis scene has responded by awarding Northwestern it first-ever No. 1 ITA ranking. Not only is it the school's first time at the top of the poll, but it is also an historic occasion for all Big Ten and Northern schools. The Wildcats join Duke, Georgia, Florida, Georgia Tech, USC, Stanford and Texas as the only schools in the last 20 years to be ranked No. 1. This past weekend, NU topped No. 5 North Carolina and No. 8 Duke on the road.
[ELEVEN // northwestern proud to have another number one]
While the Wildcats are celebrating a top-ranked team this week, they are also welcoming their new top-ranked official. James J. Phillips was named Thursday by Northwestern President Henry S. Bienen as the school's new director of intercollegiate athletics and recreation. Phillips, who will begin his new position April 14, comes to Northwestern from nearby Northern Illinois University, where he served as associate vice president and director of athletics. He succeeds Mark Murphy, who left in January to become the president of the Green Bay Packers. For Phillips, his new position is a return to the Big Ten. He graduated from Illinois in 1990 and started his career as a manager and student assistant in Illinois' athletic department.