This Week in the Big Ten

This past week, Michigan's Sam Mikulak won the Nissen Emery Award, given annually to the NCAA's top male gymnast, while helping the Wolverines to back-to-back NCAA Championships.

April 13, 2014

[ONE // hail to the victors]
The Michigan men’s gymnastics team claimed the 2014 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championship and Wolverine Sam Mikulak won his third all-around crown at the University of Michigan’s Crisler Center on Friday night. This is the Wolverines’ second consecutive national championship and their sixth program title, including three in the past five years. The Big Ten has now claimed four titles in the past five years.  After recording 445.050 points, Michigan defeated second-place Oklahoma (441.650) and third-place Stanford (436.300). Illinois finished fourth with 435.350 points, Ohio State placed fifth with 433.500 points and Penn State took sixth with 429.800 points.  On Saturday, three B1G gymnasts won individual NCAA titles, including Illinois’ Jordan Valdez on the high bar, Michigan’s Mikulak on the parallel bars, and Minnesota’s Ellis Mannon on the pommel horse.

[TWO // national acclaim for michigan’s mikulak]
Speaking of Michigan’s Sam Mikulak, he was named Thursday as the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Nissen Emery Award, given annually to the NCAA's top male gymnast. He is the first Wolverine gymnast to win the honor since Justin Toman in 2002. Mikulak owns 17 NCAA All-America citations as well as seven career NCAA titles, putting him in a three-way tie for the most crowns of all-time.  Mikulak is a three-time Big Ten Gymnast of the Year and three-time Big Ten all-around champion. Currently, he owns the NCAA all-around record (93.70) as well as the NCAA parallel bar record (16.10).  The Nissen Emery Award honors the collegiate senior male gymnast who has not only established an outstanding record of achievement during his college career but also an athlete who has demonstrated good sportsmanship, fair play and a high standard of athletic excellence. For the complete release, click here.

[THREE // gopher hockey falls in ncaa title game; six standouts named all-america]
Justin Kloos, Sam Warning, Taylor Cammarata and Hudson Fasching all scored for Minnesota while goalie Adam Wilcox stopped 41 shots, but it was not enough as the Golden Gophers men’s hockey team fell to Union 7-4 Saturday night in the NCAA Championship final at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Minnesota finished as the national runner-up for the seventh time in program history.  Prior to the NCAA Frozen Four final, six Big Ten standouts earned All-America accolades from CCM Hockey.  Minnesota led all Big Ten programs with three All-Americans followed by Wisconsin with two and Ohio State with one.  Three conference players earned spots on the first team, including Minnesota sophomore defenseman Mike Reilly, Ohio State junior forward Ryan Dzingel and Wisconsin junior defenseman Jake McCabe.  An additional three Big Ten players claimed spots on the second team, including Minnesota teammates Kyle Rau (junior, forward) and Adam Wilcox (sophomore, goalie) and Wisconsin senior forward Michael Mersch.  The full list of 25 honorees can be found here.

[FOUR // buckeyes clinch a share of men’s tennis title]
Ohio State clinched at least a share of the Big Ten Men’s Tennis Championship on Sunday after earning a 4-3 win at Purdue. The conference title marks the ninth consecutive and 13th overall in Ohio State history. The top-ranked Buckeyes moved to 9-0 in Big Ten play and 25-3 overall this season with the win over the Boilermakers. Ohio State can clinch the outright title with a win over Iowa on Friday.

[FIVE // wrapping up spring ball]
Earlier this week, the Big Ten released its annual Spring Football Prospectus as “spring ball” will soon be coming to an end.  In fact, nine conference schools wrapped up spring practice on Saturday, with Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin holding spring games or final practice sessions.  For short recaps for each school, along with links to full stories, click here.

[SIX // penn state’s urschel honored with aau sullivan award]
John Urschel, the Penn State All-American guard who claimed the 2013 William V. Campbell Trophy from the National Football Foundation (NFF) as college football's premier scholar-athlete, has been named the recipient of the 84th James E. Sullivan Award, presented by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) to America's top amateur athlete. Urschel was announced as the winner of the prestigious award Friday night during an awards ceremony at the AAU National Headquarters in Orlando, Fla.  Urschel was selected from a pool of 19 semifinalists vying for the honor in 2014, and was joined by two other finalists, University of Florida track and field athlete Cory Ann McGee and University of Nebraska volleyball player Kelsey Robinson.  Urschel becomes Penn State's second winner of the Sullivan Award, joining Olympic track champion Horace Ashenfelter, the 1952 Sullivan recipient. For more information on Urschel's latest honor, click on this link.

[SEVEN // idle Indiana maintains lead in big ten baseball race]
At week’s end, Indiana remained atop the Big Ten baseball standings at 8-1 despite sitting idle in conference action this past weekend.  Instead, the Hoosiers hosted Morehead State in a three-game series at home.  On Friday, senior pitcher Joey DeNato picked up his 31st career victory to become Indiana's all-time wins leader, although Sunday marked an end to the Hoosiers’ 10-game winning streak, as they fell 8-7.  Nebraska, which is second overall at 7-2, extended play to the 10th inning Sunday at Minnesota to secure a 3-2 victory for the series sweep over the Golden Gophers.  It is now the second consecutive conference series sweep for the Huskers, marking the first time they have accomplished that feat since 2006.  Illinois (6-3), Penn State (5-3) and Michigan State (5-4) round out the top five in the league standings.  Michigan went 2-1 against the Fighting Illini this past weekend, while Ohio State forced Penn State to drop back-to-back games for the first time in a month. 

[EIGHT // wolverines open up space in softball race]
The Michigan softball team improved to 12-0 in Big Ten play this past week following three wins against in-state rival Michigan State.  In 12 Big Ten games, the U-M pitching staff has an earned-run average of 0.91, and opponents are hitting only .186.  The Wolverines have now created a little distance between second-place Minnesota (10-3), which earned a series win over Northwestern Sunday by claiming a 3-1 home win on Sunday. The teams combined to score four runs in the weekend finale after posting 39 total runs in the first two games.  Purdue sits third in the Big Ten standings at 9-3, while Nebraska (8-4) and Wisconsin (6-5) round out the top five.

[NINE // six diamond stars up for national awards]
Two Hoosier baseball standouts were named among the midseason list for the 2014 Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the sport's top amateur player. Junior catcher Kyle Schwarber and junior infielder Sam Travis are among the midseason list, which will be trimmed to 30 in early May. The duo has helped Indiana to an 8-1 start in conference play and first place in the standings.  In addition, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced the Top 25 Finalists for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year on Wednesday, with four Big Ten players garnering recognition.  Michigan's Sierra Romero and Haylie Wagner and Minnesota's Sara Moulton and Kaitlyn Richardson were named Player of the Year finalists. The Wolverines and Gophers are currently the top two teams in the Big Ten standings.  Just prior to the start of postseason play, on May 7 the list will be narrowed to the Top 10 Finalists. The Top 3 Finalists will be announced May 21, while the winner of the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be revealed on May 27 prior to the start of the NCAA WCWS in Oklahoma City. 

[TEN // a new gopher in town]
University of Minnesota Director of Athletics Norwood Teague announced this past Monday the hiring of Marlene Stollings as the 11th head coach in the history of the Golden Gopher women's basketball program. Stollings comes to Minnesota after two successful years at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she led the Rams to a 33-29 record and one of the top turnarounds in the nation in 2013-14. Prior to her stint at VCU, Stollings led a one-year resurgence at Winthrop University in 2011-12, where the Eagles posted just their second winning season in the last 26 years of the program.

[ELEVEN // reaching out to ease the payne]
The Los Angeles Athletic Club will present its first-ever Outreach Award to Michigan State senior basketball player Adreian Payne as part of the 38th Annual Wooden Award Gala presented by Wendy’s., it was announced on Friday. The event also honors the Men's and Women's Wooden Award winners, and includes the presentation of the Wooden Award All American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award, this year given to Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer – a former player at Indiana in the 1970s.  Payne is attending the Wooden Award Gala to receive the Award as planned, despite the passing of Lacey Holsworth late Tuesday evening. The private friendship he developed with the eight-year-old girl from St. Johns, Mich., stricken with neuroblastoma two years ago, became a nationwide story as news of it spread beyond East Lansing this season.  Earlier this year, BTN’s “The Journey” chronicled this wonderful relationship and can be seen by clicking here.

[TWELVE // big ten taking a bite of big apple]
Finally this week, the Big Ten announced it will open a second office in New York City to help serve the needs of its 14 member institutions. The Big Ten New York City office will be located at 900 Third Avenue and will be fully staffed and operational by June 1. The office is located in Midtown Manhattan, with easy access to airports and other transportation, and will feature both office and meeting space. Three Big Ten staff members working in branding, championships, communications and compliance will be based in the New York City office to provide expanded coverage and service, while Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany and senior staff will maintain a presence in both the New York City office and the conference's current headquarters located in Rosemont, Ill.