This Week in the Big Ten

This past week long-time Illinois assistant wrestling coach Jim Heffernan was promoted to the Fighting Illini's top position.

May 3, 2009

[ONE // illini fight to win conference’s men’s golf title]
Two Big Ten Championships were contested this past week and we start with the Illinois Fighting Illini taking home the men’s golf title at Penn State.  The Illini (292-288-284-285—1149) captured the crown by 13 strokes over Minnesota (287-294-292-289—1162) and 18 shots over Indiana (286-295-294-292—1167).  Ohio State (289-290-292-299—1170) and Penn State (290-296-296-288—1170) tied for fourth, while Iowa (290-292-290-300—1172) and Northwestern (290-296-287-304—1177) were sixth and seventh.  Rounding out the field was Purdue (293-297-283-306—1179) and Michigan (285-302-299-293—1179) tied for eighth, and Wisconsin (295-292-290-306—1183) and Michigan State (293-296-312-309—1210) in 10th and 11th, respectively.  Northwestern freshman Eric Chun (70-68-71-74—283) captured the individual conference title with a one-shot victory over Penn State’s Kevin Foley (73-70-70-71—284).  Minnesota’s Derek Chang (71-73-71-71—286), Illinois Chris DeForest (76-70-69-71—286) and Minnesota’s Ben Pisani (70-72-72-72—286) all tied for third place.

[TWO // michigan state rows its way to another big ten title]
Michigan State won the Big Ten Rowing Championship for the second-straight season this past weekend on the strength of first-place performances from its first and second varsity eights, which combined for 105 of the team's 137 points.  Michigan (126 points) was the runner-up as a team for the third time in 10 years. Ohio State took third with 123 points, 10 points ahead of fourth-place Wisconsin. Iowa was fifth (60), followed by Minnesota (59) and Indiana (24).  Ohio State captured the first varsity four competition, while Wisconsin took home the second varsity four crown.  The Badgers also finished first in the first and second novice eight competitions.

[THREE // conference office announces rowing honors]
First and second-team All-Big Ten selections were also announced at the Rowing Championships this past weekend and a trio of Michigan State rowers highlighted the first team.  The Spartans’ Sarah Schmidt, Lauren Gamble and Amanda Dunnill were among the 10 first-team honorees, as were Indiana’s Ashley Johnson, Iowa’s Sheila Rinozzi, Michigan’s Caitlin Trumbull and Karen Colwell, Minnesota’s Lisa Pugh, Ohio State’s Susanne Herbrand and Wisconsin’s Theresa Shields.  For a complete list of the second-team All-Big Ten squad and the conference’s Sportsmanship Award honorees, click here.

[FOUR // big ten men’s tennis teams and standouts preparing for ncaa tourney]
The 2009 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships bracket was announced this past Tuesday and Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Wisconsin were all part of the 64-team field.  The six teams will begin NCAA play on May 8.  In addition, seven singles players, including automatic qualifier and No. 3 seed Bryan Koniecko of Ohio State, will represent the Big Ten among the 64-member field for the 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championships, it was announced by the NCAA this past Wednesday. For more information on the individual men’s draw, click here.

[FIVE // top-ranked northwestern ready to begin quest for ncaa title]
Also on Tuesday, the NCAA announced the 2009 Women’s Tennis Championships bracket.  Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern and Ohio State were all named to the field, while the top-ranked Wildcats were named the overall top seed in the event.  On Wednesday, three Big Ten singles players, including automatic qualifier and overall No. 1 seed Maria Mosolova of Northwestern, were selected to the 64-member field at the 2009 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championships.  Learn more about the individual women’s competitors by clicking here.

[SIX // buckeyes no-no rival michigan]
Congratulations to Ohio State sophomore Alex Wimmers on pitching a no-hitter this past Saturday against rival Michigan.  Wimmers struck out 14 Wolverines and walked only four as the Buckeyes took the first game of a doubleheader, 6-0.  The impressive no-no was the first nine-inning no-hitter in Ohio State history and the ninth all-time at Ohio State.  Offensively, the Buckeyes’ Ryan Dew turned in an equally solid performance at the plate over the two games in Columbus.  Dew was 7-for-9 (.778) with two home runs, three runs scored and five RBI.  The Big Ten Network was in Columbus to cover the series and coverage of the weekend can be found here.

[SEVEN // minnesota’s mead impressive in 5,000-meter performance]
There have been several impressive track and field performances so far this year, but let’s tip our cap to Minnesota sophomore Hassan Mead, who just flat out smashed his own school record in the 5,000-meter run Saturday at Stanford’s Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational.  Mead shattered his school record of 13:44.30 by nearly 16 seconds, crossing the finish line in 13:28.45 to win the first of two sections at the prestigious event.  Mead’s time, which is the third fastest in the NCAA this season, qualified him to compete in the NCAA Midwest Region Championships later this month.

[EIGHT // football honors rookies and hall of famers]
This past Monday, the conference office announced that 28 Big Ten student-athletes were selected during the 2009 National Football League (NFL) Draft held last weekend, including four first-round picks from three different institutions. The Big Ten boasted 15 players chosen in the first three rounds, a total that ranked second among all conferences, while eight schools featured at least one selection during the seven rounds.  On Thursday, the Big Ten learned that three conference institutions will be sending former student-athletes into the College Football Hall of Fame, as Iowa’s Larry Station, Ohio State’s Chris Spielman and Penn State’s Curt Warner were named as part of the 2009 class.

[NINE // no need to wrestle with this decision]
Illinois Director of Athletics Ron Guenther did not have to look long or far for his next head wrestling coach as he announced the promotion of long-time assistant coach Jim Heffernan on Tuesday.  Heffernan was the top assistant under recently retired head coach Mark Johnson for the past 17 years at Illinois and two previous seasons at Oregon State.  He helped lead the Illini to a Big Ten championship in 2005, three consecutive Midlands titles from 2004-06 and 17 consecutive winning seasons in dual meets. He has twice been named the National Wrestling Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year, earning the honor in 1995 and 2001, and was named the AFLAC Assistant Coach of the Year in 2003.  A 1987 Iowa graduate, Heffernan was a four-time All-American and the 150-pound NCAA champion in 1986. He earned Iowa's Male Athlete of the Year honor in 1987 and was a four-time Big Ten champion. He also led the Hawkeyes to three NCAA championships and four Big Ten titles during his time in Iowa City.

[TEN // michigan state’s merchant to represent usa]
Michigan State women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant learned Thursday that she will serve under Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne as an assistant for the 2009 USA Basketball Women's World University Games Team.  The coaching selections were made by the USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Committee and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.  The World University Games is a multi-sport competition organized by the International University Sports Federation and held every other year. The 2009 women's basketball competition will take place July 1-11 in Belgrade, Serbia. Eligible athletes for the USA team must be currently enrolled in a college or university and have remaining NCAA athletic eligibility.

[ELEVEN // one “shining” moment]
Finally this week, do yourself a favor.  Take 12 minutes of your day and check out this touching Big Ten Network feature on the Rochester (Minn.) Shining Stars cheerleading squad.  The BTN does a great job telling this wonderful story about three Big Ten students who were moved by these incredible individuals and decided to begin a cheer team for them.  These students are wonderful mentors.  It is a must watch!