May 16, 2008
by Jeff Smith
[ONE // time to hit the track]
This weekend the conference's focus will be on the 2008 Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The event will be hosted by Illinois on May 16-18, and feature all 20 men's and women's teams. On the men's side, Wisconsin enters the weekend looking for its fifth-straight outdoor conference title. The Badgers have also taken home the last eight indoor crowns. On the women's side, three league squads enter the competition ranked in the nation's top 25. Minnesota is ranked ninth, followed by No. 14 Penn State and No. 18 Michigan. The host Illini are the reigning outdoor champions as they shared the 2007 title with Michigan. Minnesota captured the Big Ten indoor crown back in February. Action begins at noon on Friday with the decathlon 100 meters. Click here to visit the official championships website.
[TWO // wolverines win third consecutive baseball title]
This past Sunday, the 19th-ranked Michigan baseball team captured its third consecutive Big Ten title with a two-game sweep over Minnesota. The Wolverines finished the conference campaign 23-4 and extended their Big Ten-record conference championship total to 35. Michigan equaled its school record for Big Ten wins in a season, matching the previous best of 23 wins in 2006. On May 21-24, the Wolverines will host the 2008 Big Ten Baseball Tournament at the Wilpon Baseball & Softball Complex, home of Ray L. Fisher Stadium.
[THREE // wildcats take big ten softball tourney]
While Michigan baseball sealed its conference title on Sunday, Northwestern clinched the Big Ten Softball Tournament title on Saturday. With a 1-0 victory over Iowa, the Wildcats celebrated their first-ever modern-day tournament championship in front of their home crowd at Sharon J. Drysdale Field. Northwestern's win against Iowa was its first against the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Tournament in eight tries. Lauren Delaney earned the win on the mound and moved to 34-8 on the season to break the Northwestern single-season wins record held by All-Americans Lisa Ishikawa (1984) and Eileen Canney (2007). It was her third shutout of the event, which earned her Tournament MVP honors. Also joining Delaney on the All-Tournament team was Iowa's Katie Brown, Lindsay Digmann, Colleen McGlaughlin and Quinn Morelock; Michigan State's Jessica Bracamonte and Kara Weigle; Minnesota's Natalie Neal and Brianna Sudenga; and Northwestern's Michelle Batts, Erin Dyer and Kelly Quinn.
[FOUR // four softball squads awarded ncaa bids]
Big Ten regular-season co-champion and conference tournament winner Northwestern, along with Iowa, Michigan and Purdue were selected this week to compete in the 2008 NCAA Women's Softball Championship. Regional play begins Friday and extends through Sunday, while Iowa, Michigan and Northwestern will serve as host. Over the past three years, the Big Ten has seen remarkable success in the NCAA Championship. Michigan won the national title in 2005, while Northwestern finished second in 2006 and third last year. For a complete breakdown of all regional action, including television broadcast information, click here!
[FIVE // seven men's golf teams in ncaa action]
NCAA men's golf regional is underway and seven Big Ten teams and two Minnesota golfers are in action. In the Central Regional (live scoring link), Illinois and Michigan opened with a 298 on Thursday, while Ohio State was one stroke out at 299 and Indiana was two back at 300. Penn State shot 304. Minnesota's Clayton Risk fired an opening 74 and teammate Victor Almstrom carded a 77. Michigan State was tied for 14th in the East Regional after opening with a 1-over-par 285 on Thursday. In the West Regional, Wisconsin finished the first round tied for 19th with a 304. The top 10 teams advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be held May 28-May 31, on the Kampen Course at Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind. The 72-hole event is being hosted by Purdue University.
[SIX // purdue women's golf advances to ncaa championship]
The Purdue women's golf team placed second in the Central Regional this past weekend to advanced to the NCAA Championships, which will be held May 20-23 at the University of New Mexico Championship Golf Course in Albuquerque. The Boilermakers carded a 54-hole score of 871 while Big Ten champion Maria Hernandez's score of 208 earned her co-medalist honors. In the West Regional, Ohio State tied for eighth place, which was good enough to advance to the NCAA Championships, but the Buckeyes lost in a tiebreak playoff ending their season. Michigan State fired one shot more than Ohio State and finished 11th with an 893. Indiana competed in the East Regional and ended its season with a 933 in 18th place.
[SEVEN // wildcats welcomes new women's golf coach]
This week Northwestern Director of Golf and men's head coach Pat Goss announced the hiring of Emily Fletcher as the Wildcats' women's head golf coach. Fletcher comes to Northwestern after spending the last 20 years at the Glen View Club, the home course for the Wildcats. She has spent several years mentoring some of the top players on the LPGA Tour and now she will have the opportunity to teach some of Northwestern's finest. Fletcher replaces Chris Regenberg, who announced in September she was stepping down after serving 16 years as the program's only head coach.
[EIGHT // trio of men's tennis teams advance to round of 16]
Three Big Ten men's tennis teams have advanced to the NCAA Championships round of 16 and at least one is guaranteed to get past Friday's action. No. 2 Ohio State and No. 15 Illinois will square off in a rematch of the Big Ten Tournament final on Friday at 3 p.m. CT. The Buckeyes defeated the Illini last month by a score of 4-3. Michigan will battle top-seeded Virginia on Friday, May 16, at Noon CT. Since 2000, the Big Ten has one national team title, one singles crown and three doubles championships, all of which were earned by Illinois.
[NINE // top-ranked northwestern women's tennis advances in ncaa play]
Top-ranked Northwestern was the lone Big Ten team to advance to the NCAA Women's Tennis Championships round of 16, and it did so in convincing fashion. The Wildcats swept both of their opponents, Illinois-Chicago and conference rival Indiana, this past week. Michigan also could not get past the second round, while Illinois' and Ohio State's seasons ended with losses to Tennessee and Auburn, respectfully. On Thursday, Northwestern topped Fresno State, 4-1, and advanced to meet California in the final 8 on Saturday at noon.
[TEN // big ten and learfield announce partnership]
The Big Ten made an historic announcement on Tuesday, promoting its new partnership with Learfield Sports and the creation of Big Ten Sports Properties. The two organizations joined forces to develop an exclusive corporate partner platform for the conference. The partnership will help align corporate partners with the conference through media, corporate hospitality, presenting sponsorships of select championships and tournaments, venue exposure, branding opportunities and product sampling. For more information on the announcement, view the press release by clicking here.
[ELEVEN // after further review...]
Finally this week, the Big Ten announced that former conference and NFL official Bill Carollo will rejoin the conference family as its Coordinator of Football Officials beginning on Jan. 1, 2009. Carollo will replace Dave Parry, who will begin his new duties as the National Coordinator for College Football Officiating in February 2009. Carollo was a Big Ten official from 1980-88 and has two Super Bowls to his background as well. Welcome back Bill!