April 8, 2012
[ONE // illini make it four straight in men’s gymnastics]
Totaling a team score of 352.950 points, Illinois held off the field at the 2012 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships to take home the team title Friday night at Carver Hawkeye Arena. The Illini claimed their fourth straight conference championship, becoming the first Big Ten program to win four in a row since Minnesota achieved the feat from 1977-80. The win gave Illinois its 27th team championship in program history. Illinois held off second-place Michigan, which finished the competition with a score of 351.850, for the championship. Penn State earned a third-place team finish with 350.000 points, while Minnesota came in fourth with 345.800 points. Ohio State came in fifth (343.650), Iowa was sixth (342.800) and Nebraska (340.700) rounded out the team standings. Illinois' C.J. Maestas was crowned the Big Ten all-around champion, becoming the first Illini to win the title since Wes Haagensen did so in 2007. Maestas finished with an all-around total of 89.500, and held off Michigan's Sam Mikulak, last year's all-around champion, who scored 88.900 points. Illinois' Paul Ruggeri finished third in the all-around, totaling 86.850 points.
[TWO // individual event winners and all-big ten honorees announced in men’s gymnastics]
The second day of the 2012 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships saw individual event winners crowned and All-Conference teams and award winners announced on Saturday night. Four schools won event titles, including two each for both Illinois and Michigan. Paul Ruggeri won both individual event championships for the Illini, while Sam Mikulak took home two titles for the Wolverines. Ruggeri took home the event title in the floor exercise, totaling 15.800, nearly one-half point ahead of teammate C.J. Maestas for the victory. He later won the vault championship with a mark of 15.500. Mikulak led off the parallel bars rotation with a 15.450 and watched that score hold up for the victory. He then notched a 15.550 on the high bar for his second event championship. Ohio State’s Ty Echard and Penn State’s Craig Hernandez tied for the pommel horse championship, finishing with matching scores of 14.850. Nittany Lion Scott Rosenthal claimed the still rings title after posting a score of 15.900. The individual award winners and All-Big Ten teams were announced following competition on Saturday, with Illinois claiming all three individual awards. Illini freshman C.J. Maestas was a double-winner, being voted Big Ten Gymnast and Freshman of the Year, the second year in a row the awards have gone to the same gymnast; Michigan’s Sam Mikulak won the honors last year. Maestas is the first Illini to win Gymnast of the Year since Wes Haagensen in 2007 and the program’s second Freshman of the Year in three seasons, following Yoshi Mori in 2010. Illinois head coach Justin Spring was voted Big Ten Coach of the Year for the third season in a row.
[THREE // heading to nationals]
The Big Ten will send two teams and six gymnasts to the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships following the conclusion of the NCAA Regional competitions on Saturday night. Nebraska and Ohio State will head to the national meet after finishing second at their respective regional sites, while Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State will send individual all-around competitors to the championships, scheduled for April 20-22 at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. At the Raleigh Regional, Ohio State placed second to advance to the national meet for the first time since 1990. The Buckeyes totaled 196.225 points to punch their ticket to the NCAA Championships. Nebraska finished second in the Salt Lake City Regional to clinch its berth to the NCAA Championships, the 21st time it will appear at the national meet, posting a team total of 196.525. For a complete look at the regional results, as well as the six gymnasts advancing to the NCAA Championships, click here.
[FOUR // boiler baseball earns two-game lead over three teams]
Big Ten baseball closed out another week of action with Purdue on top of the conference standings at 7-2. The Boilermakers hold a two-game advantage over a three-way tie for second as Indiana, Nebraska and Ohio State sit at 5-4. No. 19 Purdue earned a series sweep at Northwestern Sunday, marking the first time the Boilermakers accomplished the feat on the road in league play since 2001. Purdue has won eight of its last nine games but finally completed a Big Ten sweep after losing the series finale the first two weekends of conference play. On Sunday, a game-tying two-RBI triple from Pat Kelly followed by a walk-off single from Kale Kiser completed a dramatic ninth-inning comeback by Nebraska as the Huskers rallied for a 9-8 win to take the three-game series over Iowa. Ohio State swept Minnesota for the first time since 2001, while the Hoosiers lost their first series of the Big Ten season on Sunday, dropping the rubber match to Illinois Sunday, 11-6.
[FIVE // wolverines up one on boilers and huskers in softball]
The Michigan softball team ended the week’s action with a one-game advantage in the Big Ten softball standings at 8-1. The Wolverines captured a three-game sweep over rival Ohio State this past week, outscoring the Buckeyes 27-11. Nebraska and Purdue sit tied for second at 7-2. The Huskers posted their second sweep through the first three conference series with a three-game take over Illinois. The Boilermakers, who had entered the week in first place with an unblemished mark, dropped the first two games to in-state rival Indiana, before taking the series finale 11-2 in Bloomington.
[SIX // back in the clubhouse]
Three Big Ten men’s golf teams were in action this past week, including two conference squads that served as tournament hosts. Northwestern senior Eric Chun scorched the field in the final round of the NYX Hoosier Invitational Sunday, carding a 5-under 66 to win the individual title and lead the Wildcats to an 11-stroke team victory in the event. The Wildcats as a team entered Sunday with a seven-stroke lead, stretching that to an 11-shot margin of victory over second-place IUPUI with a final round 1-under 283 to finish at 11-under 841 (281-277-283). Host Indiana finished third with a three-round total of 1-over 853 (285-285-283). Elsewhere, Penn State concluded its 36th Annual Rutherford Intercollegiate in fifth with a team-total of 920 (304-305-311). Freshman Jens Talbert posted the best individual score for Penn State with a 227 (74-73-80), which tied for ninth. On the women’s side, Michigan State, Northwestern and Ohio State all competed at the Bryan National Collegiate in Browns Summit, N.C. The Buckeyes (297-294-301—892) tied for fourth, while the Wildcats (290-305-301—896) were eighth and the Spartans (310-300-299—909) were 12th in the 17-team field. Also in action was Minnesota, which carded a season-beat 291 Sunday to finish fifth at the Rebel Intercollegiate at the Ole Miss Golf Course in Oxford, Miss. The Gophers finished the three-day tournament with a season-best score of 899 (306-302-291—899), giving the Maroon and Gold their season-best finish of fifth as well.
[SEVEN // at the net]
Ohio State remained perfect at 7-0 in the Big Ten men’s tennis standings this past week with a 7-0 victory at Wisconsin on Thursday and a 6-1 win at Minnesota Sunday. The Buckeyes are 25-2 on the season and hold a one-game advantage in the conference standings over Illinois and Michigan. The Fighting Illini saw their six-match winning streak come to a close with a 4-3 loss to Michigan Friday, but they rebounded to top Michigan State 6-1 on Saturday. In addition to the win over Illinois, the Wolverines bested Northwestern 5-2 in Evanston Sunday, marking U-M’s fourth straight victory. On the women’s side, Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern sit atop the standings at 6-1, while Illinois is fourth at 5-2. The Wildcats gave the Wolverines their first conference loss of the season on Sunday, earning a 4-3 victory. The Huskers used a 5-2 result over Indiana Sunday to secure the team’s 20th win of the season, which puts Nebraska just two wins away from the program record for wins in a season (22, 2010).
[EIGHT // spring ahead to the fall]
With spring football underway, the Big Ten posted its spring prospectus this past week, which previews the returning all-conference honorees, new coaches, career record chasers, bowl lineups and the road to Indy for the Big Ten Football Championship Game. All 12 Big Ten teams will welcome back at least 10 players to their starting lineups in 2012. After welcoming four new head coaches to Big Ten play for the 2011 campaign, three more coaches will make their conference debut this season. Illinois' Tim Beckman, Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Penn State's Bill O'Brien will all enter their first seasons as Big Ten head coaches in 2012. Additionally, Wisconsin's Montee Ball enters the 2012 season with the chance to become just the second player to earn Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons, joining former Indiana tailback Anthony Thompson (1988-89). For more highlights on the upcoming Big Ten football season, click here.
[NINE // nabc honors spartan stars]
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and senior forward Draymond Green were honored as the best in the nation by the National Association of Basketball Coaches this past week. Green became the third Spartan to ever earn National Player of the Year honors as he was named NABC Division I Player of the Year, while Izzo was named UPS NABC Division I Coach of the Year for the second time in his career, marking the eighth national award of his career.
[TEN // returning home]
Last week the Big Ten celebrated and welcomed the hire of Wisconsin-Green Bay women’s basketball coach Matt Bollant at Illinois. This week, that hire has prompted one of our own to return home. Fifth-year coach Kevin Borseth announced Wednesday he is resigning as Michigan’s women's basketball coach to return to Wisconsin-Green Bay, where he coached for nine seasons before accepting the Wolverines head coach position prior to the 2007-08 season. Borseth posted an 87-73 overall record and a 38-48 Big Ten mark at Michigan, including a 2012 NCAA Tournament appearance. He led the Wolverines to a 20-12 overall record in 2011-12, including an 8-8 mark and a seventh-place finish in conference play. He guided the program into postseason play during four of his five seasons, making three Women's NIT appearances and a NCAA appearance against Oklahoma this season. Borseth guided Michigan to a pair of 20-win campaigns during his tenure. A national search for Michigan's next women's basketball coach will begin immediately.
[ELEVEN // gopher hockey falls shy in final four]
Another national championship for a Big Ten hockey team will have to wait another year as Minnesota men's hockey team was eliminated from the NCAA Frozen Four with a 6-1 loss to No. 1 overall seed Boston College at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Fla. Playing in its first NCAA Frozen Four game since 2005, Minnesota dropped to 52-34 in the NCAA Tournament all-time with a 19-17 record at the Frozen Four. Thursday's game was the furthest south the team has ever played and was the team's first game outside of Minnesota since Feb. 25. The Gophers finished the season with a 28-14-1 record and won their third MacNaughton Cup in seven years as the WCHA regular season champions, going 20-8-0 in league play. The Big Ten officially begins sponsoring hockey as a conference sport in 2013-14.
[TWELVE // remembering a gopher great]
Finally this week, the Big Ten joins the University of Minnesota and the rest of the conference in mourning the loss of Golden Gopher student-athlete Gary Tinsley, who passed away Friday morning. Tinsley was 22 years old. He played his senior season of football for the Gophers in 2011 and was a four-year letter-winner for the squad. Arrangements will be announced once they are finalized.