June 13, 2010
[ONE // where do we start?]
Let’s see, what happened this week and where do we begin? It would probably make the most sense to start with one of the most significant moments in conference history! At the end of business Friday, the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) announced unanimous approval for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) to join the Big Ten effective July 1, 2011, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2011-12 academic year. The Big Ten Network did an outstanding job covering this monumental decision and the majority of its archived video, which features interviews with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Nebraska AD Tom Osborne, can be found by clicking here.
[TWO // honoring the present by honoring the past]
In past years, the biggest headline coming out of the conference office during this particular week has been the announcement of the Big Ten Medal of Honor – the conference’s oldest award. The award was established in 1914 when the Big Ten endowed a Medal of Honor to be given annually to a student in the graduating class of each university that demonstrated proficiency in scholarship and athletics. Obviously the Nebraska news grabbed a lot of attention, but that did not stop the league from honoring 22 of the conference’s finest representatives on Wednesday. This year, 22 student-athletes, representing 13 sports, were chosen for the Medal of Honor. All of this year’s honorees earned Academic All-Big Ten status, while 14 of the recipients were named All-Big Ten selections. In addition, eight Medal of Honor winners were named Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honorees for their respective sports during the academic year, including Illinois’ Angela Bizzarri, Indiana’s Ofori Sarkodie Michigan State’s Blair White, Minnesota’s Jayson Ness, Northwestern’s Lauren Lui, Penn State’s Jason Yeisley and Ashley Griffith and Purdue’s Chris Kramer.
[THREE // a trio of titles on the track]
This past week at the Hayward Track on the University of Oregon campus, three Big Ten standouts captured national titles at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. On the final day of competition Saturday, Penn State's Bridget Franek crossed the tape first in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in a time of 9:38.36, more than 10 seconds ahead of the field, to claim her first NCAA championship. Illinois' Andrew Riley became the first national champion for the Illini since 1997 after winning the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 13.45. On Friday, Indiana’s Derek Drouin won his first outdoor NCAA high jump championship, clearing 2.26 meters to become the first Big Ten champion in the event since 1970. In the team standings, Texas A&M claimed the men's and women's titles. In the women's race, Penn State finished fourth overall with 34 points, while the Indiana men finished 16th overall with 13.5 points.
[FOUR // put me in coach]
Major League Baseball teams selected 26 Big Ten baseball players in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, held June 7-9. Highlighting the field, Ohio State’s Alex Wimmers went in the first round to the Minnesota Twins, while Minnesota’s Michael Kvasnicka was drafted by the Houston Astros in the supplemental first round. Wimmers went with the 21st overall selection, becoming the Big Ten’s second first-rounder in as many seasons and the conference’s highest selection since former Buckeye Nick Swisher went 16th overall in 2002. In May, Wimmers became the only pitcher in Big Ten History to earn conference Pitcher of the Year accolades in back-to-back seasons. Nine Big Ten teams had at least two players taken in the draft, while Minnesota led all conference schools with four selections.
[FIVE // gophers golden run ends in regional final]
Minnesota’s baseball season came to an end on Monday with a 9-5 loss to Cal State Fullerton in the championship game of the Fullerton Regional. With the championship game appearance, the Golden Gophers became one of just 19 programs to reach a regional final in each of the last two seasons. Michael Kvasnicka, Kyle Knudson and Seth Rosin earned spots on the NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team.
[SIX // all-american boys]
Speaking of baseball, the honors keep rolling in for some of the Big Ten’s best. Indiana's Alex Dickerson was named the District V Player of the Year, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America announced on Friday. Dickerson, the 2009 Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year, suffered no sophomore slump in ranking among Big Ten and national leaders in almost every batting category. In addition to his district honor, Dickerson was one of five conference players to earn All-America accolades from Ping!Baseball. Ohio State pitcher Alex Wimmers was tabbed as a first-team selection, while Dickerson, Minnesota catcher Michael Kvasnicka and Penn State catcher Ben Heath were second-team honorees. Northwestern’s Paul Snieder was tabbed a third-team pick at the utility position.
[SEVEN // a different kind of ping all-american]
This past Wednesday Illinois golfer Scott Langley was named a first-team All-American by the Golf Coaches Association of America, while two Penn State linksters were awarded honorable mention accolades. Langley, the 2010 NCAA Champion, was one of 11 first-team selections. Penn State’s Kevin Foley and T.J. Howe each earned honorable mentions by the GCAA.
[EIGHT // more on langley]
Winning a national championship comes with its perks. For Illinois’ Scott Langley, the accolades keep coming. Last week Langley was honored with the Arnold Palmer Award as the nation’s top golfer, and this past week he was named to the U.S. Palmer Cup team and qualified for the U.S. Open. On Monday, Langley earned the lone available U.S. Open qualifying spot in the 20-man field with an 8-under-par 132 for 36 holes at the Country Club of St. Albans in suburban St. Louis. His back-to-back 66s gave him a three-shot victory. Perhaps what is most interesting is the U.S Open starts June 17 at Pebble Beach, Calif. – site of one of Langley’s top tournaments. As a junior player, Langley won Wal-Mart First Tee Open in 2006 with rounds of 67-65-63 at Pebble Beach. The week after the U.S. Open, Langley will join Team USA in the Palmer Cup, an annual Ryder Cup-style competition, at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Portrush, Northern Ireland. Langley earned his spot on the team this past Thursday after Dustin Garza announced he was turning professional.
[NINE // in charge at large]
Four Big Ten women's student-athletes were selected to the 2010 CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America At-Large team, the College Sports Information Directors of America announced on Thursday morning. Ohio State diver Chelsea Davis and Penn State gymnast Brandi Personett were named to the second team, while Purdue swimmer Christine Inman and Indiana rower Emily Kasavana earned spots on the third team. To be eligible for Academic-All-America consideration, student-athletes must be a starter or a key reserve, maintain a 3.30 GPA on a 4.00 scale, must be at least sophomore athletically and academically at his/her institution and must be nominated by his/her sports information director.
[TEN // top rowers]
The Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association announced this past week the 2010 All-America teams, with five student-athletes earning selections. Three Big Ten rowers were chosen on the first team, including Michigan's Ashley Kroll, Michigan State's Emily Regan and Wisconsin's Vicky Opitz. Iowa's Jessica Novak and Ohio State's Chorlott Goldstein were voted to the second team.
[ELEVEN // etched in stone?]
Finally this week, public voting has closed in the race for who should “Stand for Ohio” at the U.S. Capitol and we’ll soon find out if Ohio State, Big Ten and Olympic track icon Jesse Owens has earned that right. Each state sends two representatives to National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C., and since the 1880s, statues of James Garfield and William Allen have served as Ohio’s two representatives in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. A group of Ohio state legislators recently began a process to select a replacement for Allen, a former member of Congress and Ohio’s governor from 1874-1876. Allen’s pro-slavery views led Ohio leaders to seek a new Ohio representative for Statuary Hall for the 21st century. Owens, who tied one world record and set three new ones at the 1935 Big Ten Track and Field Championship and then captured four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics, was one of 10 finalists in the Legacy of Ohio project.