The Big Ten Conference concluded its 100th anniversary celebration of the esteemed Big Ten Medal of Honor by highlighting the 2014 class of honorees on Wednesday. Twenty-four student-athletes from 17 different sports were honored with the prestigious award, which was established in 1915 and was the first award in intercollegiate athletics to demonstrate support for the educational emphasis placed on athletics. The Big Ten Medal of Honor is awarded to one male and one female student-athlete from the graduating class of each member institution who has demonstrated excellence on and off the field throughout their college career.
This year's list of distinguished student-athletes includes Academic All-America and All-Big Ten honorees, individual award winners and NCAA and Big Ten team and individual champions. All 24 of the recipients have been named Academic All-Big Ten at least once in their career and 15 received All-Conference recognition this academic year. This class of honorees is pursuing diverse fields of study with a list of majors that include pre-med, sociology, computer engineering, political science, finance and management, biosystems engineering and many others.
The 2014 Big Ten Medal of Honor class of recipients boasts five Academic All-Americans: Illinois' Vanessa DiBernardo, Iowa's James Morris, Nebraska's Emily Wong, Northwestern's Marisa Bast and Ohio State's Aaron Craft. Craft became the Buckeyes' first three-time Academic All-American and was named the men's basketball Academic All-American of the Year each of the last two years. Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase and Iowa's Morris were Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners, while Michigan State's Greg Wolfe and Nebraska's Wong were also named Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honorees in their respective sports during the academic year. Indiana's Meghan Lappan and Iowa's Morris and Marike Stribos were recipients of Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarships, given to one male and one female student-athlete from each of the Big Ten institutions who plan to continue their education at a graduate degree program.
Athletically, nine student-athletes were Big Ten individual and/or team champions and one was a member of a national championship team. Ohio State's Allison Elber helped lead the Buckeyes to consecutive national titles and Big Ten Championships in women's rowing. Other Medal of Honor winners to earn Big Ten regular season or tournament team titles were Michigan's John Wojciechowski in men's swimming and diving, Michigan State's Kristen Henn in field hockey, Minnesota's Sara Moulton in softball, Nebraska's Wong in women's gymnastics, Penn State's Emily Giannotti in women's track and field and Wisconsin's Reed Connor in men's track and field. Individual Big Ten champions included Wojciechowski in the 200-yard and 400-yard medley relays, Minnesota's Derek Toomey in the 50-yard freestyle, Nebraska's Wong in the floor exercise and balance beam, Purdue's Casey Matthews in one-meter diving and Wisconsin's Connor in the 3,000- and 10,000 meters. Four Big Ten Medal of Honor winners garnered individual accolades for their athletic performances during the 2013-14 season: Nebraska's Wong was tabbed Big Ten Women's Gymnast of the Year, Ohio State's Craft earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year laurels, Purdue's Matthews was honored as Big Ten Co-Diver of the Championships and Wisconsin's Connor was named Big Ten Men's Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.
To learn more about the Big Ten Medal of Honor, including this year’s honorees, click here.