Big Ten Enjoys Successful Winter Sports Season

April 30, 2013

Park Ridge, Ill. -

Big Ten schools enjoyed considerable success during the winter sports season, highlighted by five national championships: Nebraska bowling, Michigan men’s gymnastics, Michigan men’s swimming and diving, Minnesota women’s ice hockey and Penn State wrestling. The winter season also featured a runner-up finish by Michigan men’s basketball and a third-place effort by Wisconsin men’s indoor track and field.

The Big Ten saw all seven men’s gymnastics teams advance to the NCAA Championships, as Michigan won its second national title in the last four years. Wolverine junior Sam Mikulak took home the all-around crown for the second time and claimed event titles on the high bar and parallel bars. Illinois’ Fred Hartville (vault), Ohio State’s Michael Newburger (pommel horse) and Penn State’s Trevor Howard (floor exercise) also won event crowns, as conference gymnasts combined for five of the six individual national titles. In the team race, Penn State finished fourth, Iowa placed fifth and Illinois took sixth place.

The Michigan men’s swimming and diving team collected its Big Ten-leading 12th national title in March. At the NCAA Championships, the Wolverines accounted for 27 top-10 finishes en route to the crown, including individual titles from Big Ten Swimmer of the Year Connor Jaeger in the 500-yard freestyle and 1,650-yard freestyle and the Wolverines 200-yard medley relay team consisting of Miguel Ortiz, Bruno Ortiz, Sean Fletcher and Zach Turk. Wisconsin’s Andrew Teduits also won a national title, taking the 200-yard backstroke crown. Following the Wolverines in the team race, five other conference squads placed in the top-20 as Indiana finished ninth, followed by Ohio State in 12th, Wisconsin in 13th, Minnesota in 18th and Penn State in 20th.

Penn State won its third NCAA Wrestling Championship in as many seasons and Big Ten grapplers took home six of the 10 individual titles at the national meet. Three other conference schools placed in the top-10 as Minnesota finished third, Iowa followed in fourth and Illinois placed ninth. Illinois’ Jesse Delgado (125 pounds), Ohio State’s Logan Stieber (133), Iowa’s Derek St. John (157), Penn State’s Ed Ruth (184) and Quentin Wright (197) and Minnesota’s Tony Nelson (285) each earned individual national crowns. Over a third of the All-America honors awarded at the NCAA Championships were given to Big Ten wrestlers, as conference grapplers combined for 29 of the 80 accolades.

Big Ten schools also claimed national titles in bowling and women’s ice hockey. On the ice, Minnesota completed a perfect 41-0-0 season to win its fourth NCAA title and extend its winning streak to an NCAA-record of 49 games. Gophers Hannah Brandt, Megan Bozek, Amanda Kessel, Milica McMillen, Marie-Philip Poulin and Noora Raty were named to the NCAA All-Tournament team, while Raty also garnered Most Outstanding Player honors. Since bowling became an NCAA-sanctioned sport in 2003, Nebraska has won four NCAA titles and claimed one runner-up finish. Huskers Elise Bolton and Liz Kuhlkin were named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team, while Kuhlkin was also tabbed Most Outstanding Bowler.  

The Michigan men’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA Championship game, while Wolverine Trey Burke garnered numerous national accolades, including winning the Oscar Robertson and John R. Wooden Awards and Naismith Trophy. Burke was joined as a consensus All-American by Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller. Seven conference teams qualified for the NCAA Championship – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Five of the seven teams received seeds of five or higher and four conference squads reached the Sweet 16, the most of any conference.

Six Big Ten women’s basketball teams took part in the NCAA Championship, the second consecutive year and sixth time overall that at least six conference teams appeared in the tournament. Nebraska advanced to the Sweet 16, while Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Purdue all won their first round games. During the course of the season, nine Big Ten teams received votes in the national polls, led by Penn State, which was ranked as high as No. 6. Eight conference players ended the season with All-America distinction by one or more affiliations, including, Illinois’ Karisma Penn, Minnesota’s Rachel Banham, Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper and Lindsey Moore, Ohio State’s Tayler Hill, Penn State’s Alex Bentley and Maggie Lucas and Purdue’s Drey Mingo.  

At the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, seven Big Ten gymnasts posted top-10 individual finishes, led by Michigan’s Joanna Sampson’s event title in the floor exercise. Minnesota’s Hanna Nordquist and Wolverine Katie Zurales tied for second on the balance beam, while Nebraska’s Emily Wong and Gopher Lindsay Mable finished in the top-10 in the floor exercise, coming in at third and fourth, respectively. On the vault, Mable tied for fifth and Wong placed 10th. In addition to the individual performances, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota represented the conference in the team portion of the championships. The Wolverines and Gophers each placed fourth in their respective prequalifying round, while the Illini finished fifth.

Two event titles and a third-place team finish highlighted the Big Ten’s effort at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. The Wisconsin men’s team earned a spot on the podium with a third-place finish. Indiana’s Derek Drouin earned his third indoor high jump title with a leap of 2.35 meters, setting a new Canadian national record and the second-best mark by a collegian. Michigan’s women’s distance medley relay team of Rebecca Addison, Maya Long, Jillian Smith and Amanda Eccleston crossed the finish line at 10:56.46 to bring home the title. Eighty-two Big Ten student-athletes earned All-America honors for placing in the top eight overall at the championships.

The Big Ten had four women’s swimming and diving teams finish in the top-20 at the NCAA Championships this season. The conference was led by Minnesota, which placed 10th, followed by Indiana in 11th, Wisconsin in 15th and Purdue in 19th. Big Ten performances were highlighted by three student-athletes placing in the top eight of the 3-meter diving event. Purdue’s Casey Matthews took home the crown, while fellow Boilermaker Michelle Cabassol placed fourth and Minnesota’s Maggie Keefer tallied a sixth-place finish. Keefer also earned a second-place effort in the 1-meter, while Indiana’s Amy Cozad and Ohio State’s Cheyenne Cousineau went third and fourth, respectively, in the platform diving event. Minnesota's Haley Spencer recorded her second-straight second-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke, while Indiana's Brooklynn Snodgrass was third in the 100 backstroke and Lindsay Vrooman was third in the 1,650 freestyle.