This Week in the Big Ten

April 15, 2018

[ONE // men’s gymnastics all-conference honors announced]
Congratulations to Big Ten Men’s Gymnast of the Championships Sean Melton of Ohio State, as well as Minnesota’s Shane Wiskus and Illinois’ Justin Spring, who were named Big Ten Freshman and Coach of the Year, respectively, this past Monday. Individual event winners were crowned on the second day of the Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships, which concluded with the conference announcing the All-Big Ten teams and postseason award winners. Event titles were claimed by gymnasts from four schools, including champions from Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and Penn State. A total of 11 first-team All-Big Ten honorees were recognized, while six were tabbed to the second team. In addition, seven individuals were named honorees for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. 

[TWO // four women’s basketball standouts to play at next level]
Four Big Ten students were chosen in the 2018 Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) Draft that took place Thursday night at the Nike New York Headquarters in midtown Manhattan. The Big Ten has now had at least four students from current member schools chosen in the WNBA Draft in 19 of the league’s 22 years of existence. Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell was the first Big Ten student chosen this year, going No. 2 overall to the Indiana Fever. It’s the fourth time a Big Ten student has been selected second in the WNBA Draft and first since 2015 with Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B was the No. 2 overall choice by the Tulsa Shock. Mitchell will be joined on the Fever roster by one of her Ohio State teammates, as Stephanie Mavunga was selected by Indiana in the second round with the No. 14 overall pick. Rutgers’ Tyler Scaife was also chosen in the second round, going 20th overall to the Phoenix Mercury. Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner rounded out the Big Ten contingent selected in this year’s WNBA Draft, going in the third round with the 36th and final selection to the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx.

[THREE // a gopher great returns home]
Minnesota Director of Athletics Mark Coyle announced Thursday that Lindsay Whalen, one of the most decorated players in women's basketball history, will return to the University as the new head women's basketball coach at her alma mater. As part of Whalen's agreement to become head coach, which is pending approval from the University's Board of Regents, she will continue to play for the Minnesota Lynx. Previously, Whalen announced in February that she was retiring from international competition. She had played for the U.S. National team since 2002, joining Team USA following her sophomore season with the Gophers. Whalen returns to those same Gophers after destroying the program's record book in the early 2000s, finishing her career as Minnesota's all-time points leader, along with being second all-time in assists and third all-time in steals. At Minnesota, she was the first three-time All-American in program history, a three-time All-Big Ten selection and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. After a Sweet 16 appearance her junior season (2002-03), Whalen led the Gophers to their only Final Four in program history in 2004. Her jersey, No. 13, hangs in the rafters of Williams Arena.

[FOUR // big ten women’s golf medalist earns new opportunity]
Both played at TPC River’s Bend, the inaugural Prasco Charity Championship from June 29-July 1 on the Symetra Tour calendar and Big Ten Women’s Golf Championships from April 20-22 have a lot more to share than the host course. The 2018 Big Ten women’s golf individual champion will receive an exemption into the first-ever Prasco Charity Championship. This will be the second consecutive year that TPC River’s Bend hosts the Big Ten Championships for women’s golf.

[FIVE // mother nature shortens several men’s and women’s golf tournaments]
After heavy rain caused the final round of play at the Lady Buckeye Invitational to be canceled, the 29th-ranked Illinois women's golf team earned its second-straight tournament title after carding a 36-hole team total of 579 (+3) on Saturday. The Fighting Illini have now won back-to-back tournaments for the first time since the 1993-94 season and have three tournament wins in a season for the fourth time in program history.  Illinois was led by Grace Park, who earned a career-best finish, tying for first place overall after carding rounds of 69 (-3) and 72 (E). In the team standings, Michigan State (592) was third, Indiana (597) sixth, Ohio State (598) seventh, Penn State (606) ninth, Minnesota (610) 10th, Maryland (614) 11th and Rutgers (620) 12th. In men’s golf, overnight rain and strong winds made for unplayable conditions and forced the cancelation of the Boilermaker Invitational’s final round, leaving Northwestern to share the title with Kent State at 3-over 579. Indiana finished third at 580, followed by Purdue (581) tied for fourth, Michigan (587) in eighth, Wisconsin (594) tied for 12th, and Ohio State (595) in 14th. Michigan’s Kyle Mueller shot two rounds of 2-under 70 to finish tied for second at 4-under 140. Brutal weather also forced the Hawkeye Invitational to be shortened to 36 holes, leaving host Iowa with a runner-up finish at 8-over-par 584. Michigan State (598) tied for fourth, while Minnesota (602) shared sixth and Nebraska (613) was 10th. Elsewhere, Illinois topped Bradley and Penn State claimed its fourth-consecutive Rutherford Intercollegiate championship at the Penn State Blue Course.  Penn State’s team total was 8-under 844, the second-lowest score in 54-hole tournament history and the lowest since shifting the format to 54 holes at 7,202 yards in 2008.

[SIX // diamond notes]
The Big Ten’s top five softball teams are currently on winning streaks of three games or more, including frontrunner Michigan, which sits atop the league standings at 10-1 and 35-7 overall, and winners of its last 11 games. Indiana follows closely behind at 10-2 in league play, followed by Minnesota (7-3), Nebraska (8-5) and Northwestern (8-5). The Wolverines and Huskers both had respective Big Ten tilts against Rutgers and Purdue canceled Sunday due to weather, but that wasn’t before they picked up wins over their league foes on Friday and Saturday. Indiana earned a three-game sweep at Maryland this past week. In baseball, Michigan was washed out on Sunday against Maryland, but picked up a win against the Terps on Friday to move to 7-0 in league play. Minnesota, which took two from Purdue by outscoring the Boilermakers 40-15, sit second in the conference at 7-1. Illinois swept a three-game slate against Rutgers to move to 9-3, good for third place. Also earning Big Ten sweeps this past week were Indiana (vs. Northwestern) and Ohio State (Penn State).

[SEVEN // news and notes from track and field]
Several Big Ten track and field programs were in action this past week, with a number of personal bests and school records set. Among the highlights, Purdue’s Ashmon Lucas broke the school record in the discus throw Saturday at the Triton Invitational. His winning throw of 62.91 meters (206-4) is the best by any thrower in the NCAA this season and ranks among the 20 best throws by anyone in the world this year. Lucas is now within three feet, six inches of the all-time Big Ten record. Also at the Triton Invitational, Penn State’s Morgan Shigo twice broke his own school record (222-11) in the hammer throw with heaves of 224-7 and 225-7. Fellow Nittany Lion Hannah Mulhern added to her school record height in the pole vault with a clearance of 13-6.25 to finish second at the Bucknell Classic. Illinois’ Devin Quinn broke his own 100-meter facility record with a time of 10.11 seconds in the Illinois Twilight meet. Indiana’s Leah Moran triple jumped her way to a mark of 12.97 meters over the weekend, which is now the second-best distance in school history and the Big Ten this year. Elsewhere, Iowa crowned 14 event champions at the Musco Twilight meet, Michigan State won 11 events at the Louisville Invitational, Nebraska grabbed eight event crowns at the John McDonnell Invitational, while the Ohio State and Rutgers women’s programs concluded action at the Tennessee Relays. The Rutgers men claimed seven individual event titles at the Outdoor Metropolitan Championship.

[EIGHT // men’s lacrosse defends home turf; women earn notable road wins]
All three home teams defended their respective home fields in men’s lacrosse action this past week as Ohio State scored an 8-5 victory over Michigan, Penn State beat Johns Hopkins 14-12, and Maryland edged out Rutgers, 11-10. The 3-0 Terrapins hold a slim one-match advantage over Johns Hopkins and Penn State, which are tied for second at 2-1. And while the Rutgers women’s team held its ground at home with a 9-8 win over Michigan, Maryland and Northwestern picked up conference road victories this past weekend. On Saturday, the Wildcats scored a 17-13 decision at Penn State, while the Terps impressed at Ohio State, 20-5. In Maryland’s win, senior attacker Megan Whittle notched her 268th career goal with 24:16 remaining in the first half to become the program’s all-time goal leader. Seventh-ranked Northwestern extended its winning streak to seven games with the victory over No. 17 Penn State. The Wildcats and Terps are now tied for the Big Ten lead at 4-0, followed closely behind by Penn State at 3-1.

[NINE // time to talk football]
A handful of spring football games have taken place over the past two weeks, but there have been a number moved or canceled due to Mother Nature. While Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin were forced to cancel their annual spring festivities, Indiana held their Cream & Crimson contest inside, Maryland’s white team defeated its red team 31-3, Minnesota’s Gold scored a 24-20 Goldy Cup victory over the Maroon team, Ohio State’s Gray topped the Scarlet team 37-14, Purdue’s offense held off a late rally by the defense to win the spring game 42-36, and Rutgers football closed out spring practice with its annual Scarlet-White game. On Wednesday, the Big Ten football head coaches joined the Big Ten teleconference to take questions and talk football from the league’s media

[TEN // medal of honor]
Finally this week, Michigan and Nebraska became the first schools to announce their annual Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients. At the Huskers’ special red carpet recognition event at the Lied Center for Performing Arts this past week, Nebraska honored senior gymnasts Danielle Breen and Chris Stephenson as its Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients as well as the school’s Female and Male Student-Athletes of the Year. On Monday, the Michigan Athletic Department presented the Big Ten Medal of Honor to its 2017-18 recipients at its annual Student-Athlete Recognition Celebration, with graduate student Erin Finn and graduate student PJ Ransford receiving the honor based on their proficiency in scholarship and athletics.