This Week in the Big Ten

June 6, 2010

[ONE // minnesota selected to ncaa baseball championship; advance to regional finals]
Congratulations to Big Ten Baseball Champion Minnesota, which not only earned its conference-leading 30th NCAA Championship bid this past week, but advanced to the regional final, which will be played into the early morning hours on Monday.  The Golden Gophers will battle either Cal State Fullerton or New Mexico at 11 p.m. ET on Sunday on ESPNU. Both New Mexico and Cal State Fullerton need a win tomorrow and then defeat the Gophers twice to advance to the Super Regionals.   Minnesota tipped the college baseball scene on its side Friday night with a 3-1 win over top-seeded Cal State Fullerton.  The Gophers became the only No. 4 seed to down a No. 1 seed on the opening day of the 2010 NCAA Championship. The win over the seventh-ranked Titans was Minnesota’s highest since beating No. 2 Missouri on March 26, 2009. It was also the program’s highest in NCAA play since defeating No. 4 San Diego on June 2, 2007.  Minnesota then answered Saturday night by rallying from 3-0 and 4-3 deficits to defeat New Mexico 6-4 in 10 innings.

[TWO // all-american boys]
While Minnesota shines in the NCAA Baseball Championship, three other Big Ten schools saw one of their baseball players earn individual recognition this week.  Ohio State pitcher Alex Wimmers and Indiana outfielder Alex Dickerson were named to the Louisville Slugger All-America first team on Wednesday, while Penn State catcher Ben Heath was named to the second team. The 17-man first team, chosen by performances up to regional playoffs and picked by the staff of Collegiate Baseball newspaper, featured 14 conference players or pitchers of the year.  Last week Dickerson was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, while Wimmers earned the conference’s top pitching honors.

[THREE // langley claims ncaa men’s golf title, all-american honors]
Congratulations to Illinois' Scott Langley, as he claimed the NCAA Men's Golf Individual Championship Thursday night, following the final round of stroke play at the 2010 NCAA Men's Golf Championship at The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn.  Finishing at 10-under par for the tournament, including a 4-under par effort in the final round, Langley became the first Illinois player to accomplish the feat and first Big Ten golfer to win individual medalist honors since Northwestern's Luke Donald in 1999. Langley finished two strokes ahead of the rest of the field, and turned in scores of 70-68-68 at the championships. The previous best individual finish by an Illinois golfer was Steve Stricker's ninth-place effort in 1988. Langley picked up a couple of other accolades in addition to medalist honors. He earned the Division I Arnold Palmer award presented by Callaway to the NCAA champion and was named to the 11-member Division I Ping All-America first team.  On the team side of things, No. 20 Illinois finished stroke play in 19th place at 12-over par, including a 1-under total on Thursday. Penn State, one of only two unranked squads to advance to the championships, finished 29th overall at 34-over par.

[FOUR // golfweek honors big ten women’s golfers]
Four Big Ten women's golfers earned All-America status and Purdue coach Devon Brouse was named Coach of the Year when Golfweek announced its annual award winners on Wednesday.  Three Boilermakers earned spots on the roster, including Maude-Aimee LaBlanc on the first team, Numa Gulyanamitta on the third team and Laura Gonzalez-Escallon as an honorable mention member. Michigan State's Laura Kueny was selected as a second-team member.

[FIVE // maria, maria]
Speaking of women’s golf All-Americans, perhaps the most decorated golfer in Big Ten women’s golf history earned her first professional win this past week. Maria Hernandez won the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open by one stroke on Saturday. The Pamplona, Spain, native recorded her first professional tournament victory by finishing 8-under par at the Gray Bear Golf Course with a final round of 70.  Hernandez was one stroke behind Kristie Smith - who finished second - with two holes to play but scored two birdies to secure the victory. The former Boilermaker was playing in her second Ladies European Tour event as a professional.  As a senior, Hernandez won the NCAA Championships individual title and was named the Honda Sports Award as the top collegiate women's golfer, the PING/NGCA National Player of the Year and the Big Ten Suzy Favor Female Athlete of the Year. After winning a second-consecutive Big Ten Championships individual and team title, Hernandez was awarded her third-consecutive Big Ten Player of the Year and Mary Fossum awards. She was tabbed first team All-Big Ten for the fourth year and first team All-American for the third time.

[SIX // six softball stars earn national honors]
Six Big Ten softball student-athletes were named 2010 Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-Americans on Thursday, led by first-team selection Meredith Hackett (1B) of Illinois.  Four Michigan standouts earned second-team honors, including Jordan Taylor (P), Dorian Shaw (1B), Maggie Viefhaus (3B) and Nikki Nemitz (At-Large/UT/P), while Ohio State catcher Sam Marder earned third-team accolades.

[SEVEN // diving for gold]
Amidst all the All-Americans honors handed out this week, the Big Ten also saw one of its student-athletes earn gold.  Purdue diver David Boudia teamed with Haley Ishimatsu to give the United States the first gold medal of the 2010 FINA Diving World Cup on Tuesday in Changzhou, China. Boudia and Ishimatsu scored 455.35 points to win the inaugural team event. China’s Lou Yutong and Wang Hao finished second with 442.60, and Russia’s Yulia Koltunova and Ilia Zakharov rounded out the podium by scoring 422.90 points. The win is the first for the United States at a World Cup competition in China since 1985.  The team event featured one male and one female diver from 12 different countries. Each diver took half of the team’s six-dive list, which was split between the 3-meter springboard and the platform. Both divers had to take at least one dive from each board, and each of the six dive categories had to be represented. The gold medal is the fourth in international competition for Boudia and his second this summer.

[EIGHT // right on track]
The United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced on Friday the Region Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the 2010 outdoor track and field season, which will culminate next week at the NCAA Championships. In total, 10 conference student-athletes and coaches earned individual honors.  Ohio State's Thomas Murdaugh was named the Great Lakes Region Track Athlete of the Year, while Penn State freshman Casimir Loxsom won Mid-Atlantic Region honors. Loxsom's teammate Blake Eaton was named Mid-Atlantic Region Field Athlete of the Year, and Indiana's Derek Drouin was named Great Lakes Region Field Athlete of the Year. Penn State assistant coach John Gondak was named Mid-Atlantic Region Men's Assistant Coach of the Year.  On the women's side, Indiana's Molly Beckwith and Penn State's Fawn Dorr were named Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic Region Track Athletes of the Year, respectively. Nittany Lion leader Beth Alford-Sullivan was named Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year, while assistant Chris Johnson won Women's Assistant Coach of the Year honors in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Wisconsin's Nate Davis took home Great Lakes Region Women's Assistant Coach of the Year.

[NINE // success in the classroom]
As the 2009-10 school year comes to a close, the Big Ten Conference recognized Wednesday a total of 1,037 spring and at-large sports student-athletes who have been named to the Academic All-Conference team. The list of honored student-athletes features 79 baseball players, 71 softball players, 117 women’s rowers, 40 women’s and 54 men’s golfers, 55 women’s and 50 men’s tennis standouts, 191 women’s and 145 men’s track and field athletes and 134 women’s (representing water polo, ice hockey, fencing, synchronized swimming, lightweight rowing, lacrosse, pistol and rifle) and 101 men’s (representing ice hockey, volleyball, lacrosse, fencing, rowing, pistol and rifle) at-large athletes. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher.  At least 15 Big Ten student-athletes from six different schools have maintained unblemished GPAs.  For a complete look at the Big Ten Academic All-Conference honors, click here.

[TEN // being a good sport]
The Big Ten announced on Thursday the 22 student-athletes named Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners for the 2009-10 academic year. These individuals were chosen from a group of 276 student-athletes honored throughout the academic year who had displayed positive sportsmanship. The 22 Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners included 17 Academic All-Big Ten honorees and 10 All-Big Ten selections from the 2009-10 season.  One member of each varsity sports team on every campus was chosen by his or her institution as a Sportsmanship Award honoree. From each university's list, two Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners were then selected. All of the Sportsmanship Award honorees have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, these student-athletes must be in good academic standing and must have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.  Click here to view the 22 Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners.

[ELEVEN // the passing of a legend]
Finally this week, with so much emphasis put on current Big Ten All-Americans, we pause to remember one of Purdue’s three-time All-Americans and a legendary icon in the game of basketball.  Purdue University and the college basketball world lost one of their pillars on Friday with the passing of the iconic John Wooden. The legendary player and coach passed away on Friday night in Los Angeles.  Having grown up in Indiana and prior to his NCAA success as coach of UCLA, Wooden shined in West Lafayette, becoming the first three-time consensus All-American in college basketball history.  Wooden's senior season in 1932, however, not only cemented his place in Boilermaker lore, but affirmed his status as one of the preeminent players of his era. With an average of 12.2 points per game that was nearly unheard of at the time, Wooden led Purdue to a 17-1 record, a Big Ten crown and, most importantly, the lone national championship in program history. In his final game in a Purdue uniform, Wooden equaled his own single-game scoring record with 21 points in a 53-18 win over Chicago that wrapped up the national title.