This Week in the Big Ten

Michigan State wrestler Franklin Gomez was named an NWCA Individual All-Academic honoree this past week.

June 7, 2009

[ONE // big ten standouts honored with honda awards]
We open the week in review by congratulating two Big Ten standouts who were named as the nation's top competitor in their respective sports.  Purdue golfer Maria Hernandez and Northwestern lacrosse player Hannah Nielsen were honored this past week with the Honda Sports Award.  For Hernandez, the 2009 NCAA Champion, the honor was based on the results of national balloting among 1,000 NCAA member schools as part of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program, now in its 33rd year.  Nielsen earned her second consecutive Honda Award marking the fifth year in a row that the prestigious honor for lacrosse has gone to a Northwestern player.

[TWO // others enjoying honda recognition]
In addition to Maria Hernandez and Hannah Nielsen capturing the Honda Sports Award for golf and lacrosse, Michigan's Tiffany Ofili and Northwestern's Tammy Williams were named one of four finalists for track and field and softball.  Honda Sports Award nominees are selected not only for their superior athletic skills, but also for their leadership abilities, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. The winner of the award, selected by a nationwide panel of NCAA administrators, will then become a nominee for the Honda-Broderick Cup, awarded annually to the nation's top female collegiate athlete.  At the end of the year, one deserving athlete will be chosen as the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and receive the coveted Honda-Broderick Cup.

[THREE // buckeyes' hale up for national honor]
The boys can play too...  Ohio State senior closer Jake Hale was chosen this past Wednesday as one of five finalists for the fifth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award. The NCBWA's All-America Committee will select the winner, with this year's recipient to be announced Saturday, June 13, the opening day of the 2009 College World Series.  Hale recorded a school-record 18 saves in 40 appearances this season, while boasting a 1.31 ERA.

[FOUR // eight baseball players earn all-america accolades]
Eight Big Ten baseball players were named this past week to the All Ping!Baseball teams.  Congrats to first-team pitcher Alex Wimmers of Ohio State and second-team honorees Brandon Wikoff (SS) of Illinois, Josh Phegley (C) of Indiana, Derek McCallum (2B) of Minnesota and Ohio State relief pitcher Jake Hale.  Indiana designated hitter Alex Dickerson and teammate pitcher Eric Arnett were third-team selections, while Michigan pitcher Chris Fetter was named an honorable mention.

[FIVE // don't forget about those freshmen!]
Several Big Ten baseball freshmen were also honored this past Wednesday as part of the 2009 Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American squad, chosen by Collegiate Baseball.  Congrats to Illinois' Willie Argo (OF), Indiana's Alex Dickerson (DH), Minnesota's Nick O'Shea (1B), A.J. Pettersen (SS) and Justin Gominsky (OF), as well as Purdue's Eric Charles (2B), on their successful first seasons.

[SIX // rowers garner all-america honors]
The Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) announced Friday the 2009 Pocock All- America award winners and nine conference representatives were recognized. First-team accolades went to Michigan's Ashley Kroll, Michigan State's Sarah Schmidt, Ohio State's Susi Herbrand and Wisconsin's Theresa Shields.  Five individuals were named to the second team, including Michigan's Karen Colwell and Adrienne Mecham, Michigan State's Emily Regan, Minneosta's Ashlee Vilmo and Ohio State's Peta Leigh Dakyns.

[SEVEN // grappling with the grades]
The National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) announced the NWCA Individual All-Academic wrestling team for the 2008-09 season on Thursday, and a host of Big Ten grapplers were recognized.  Honorees included five NCAA Champions from this past season, four of which hailed from conference schools.  In addition to Michigan's Stephen Luke, Michigan State's Franklin Gomez, Northwestern's Jake Herbert and Ohio State's J. Jaggers, 12 others Big Ten wrestlers made the team.  Congrats to Indiana's Matt Powless, Iowa's Brent Metcalf, Michigan's Kellen Russell, Michigan State's Rex Kendle, Minnesota's Jayson Ness and Tyler Safratowich, Northwestern's Brandon Precin and Keith Sulzer, Ohio State's Corey Morrison, Penn State's Jake and Purdue's AJ Kissel and Luke Manuel.

[EIGHT // thirteen additional standouts honored in classroom]
Thirteen Big Ten men's and women's track and field and cross country student-athletes were named Thursday to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Teams.  On the women's side, 10 representatives were lauded for their efforts in the classroom.  Illinois' Angela Bizzarri, Indiana's Vera Neuenswander and Wendi Robinson, Purdue's Kara Patterson and Wisconsin's Gwen Jorgensen were first-team honorees in District 5, while Penn State's Bridget Franek earned first-team honors in District 2.  Second-team awards went to Illinois' Jackie Ziegler (District 5), Michigan's Bettie Wade (4), Penn State's Emma Schmelzer (2) and Purdue's Mallory Peck (5).  On the men's side, first-team honorees included Penn State's James Pagana (2) and Wisconsin's Jack Bolas (5), while Michigan State's Anthony Agrusa (4) was a second-team selection.

[NINE // awarding sportsmanship]
The Big Ten announced last Thursday the 22 student-athletes named Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners for the 2008-09 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 - two from each school - include 14 Academic All-Big Ten honorees and 11 All-Big Ten selections from the 2008-09 season. In addition, Illinois' Angela Bizzarri, Indiana's Jorge Campillo, Michigan State's Javon Ringer, Minnesota's Ladia Albertson-Junkans and Penn State's Gayle Hunter have each earned All-America honors during their careers.

[TEN // start thinking football]
This past Wednesday the Big Ten released start times for several football games this upcoming fall.  While television plans have yet to be finalized for the contests, several schools released additional information this week on their respective 2009 schedules. tracked those school-by-school reports on a page that can be found here.

[ELEVEN // a thank you to fans]
Finally this week, we learned that for the 33rd straight season, Big Ten men's basketball led the nation in average attendance, according to numbers released by the NCAA. The Big Ten ranked first among all conferences with an average of 12,519 fans per game/session, which is nearly 900 more than the national runner-up (SEC, 11,625). The NCAA's final attendance numbers and rankings include both regular-season and conference tournament attendance.  The Big Ten has some of the most passionate fans in the nation and the numbers clearly don't lie.  Thank you for showing up, showing good sportsmanship, and showing your loyalty to your school.