Big Ten Championships in Review
Nov. 2, 2005
The Wisconsin men's team, led by senior Simon Bairu, added to its dynasty last Sunday as the Badgers captured their seventh-straight championship in record fashion, while Bairu claimed his third individual title in as many years. Bairu shaved 14 seconds off his winning time from last year, as he crossed the finish line in an 8,000-meter time of 23:31.73, which was 25 seconds ahead of the pack. That pack was made up of mostly Badgers as they claimed eight of the nine top spots overall, leading to a near-perfect and Big Ten-record score of 16 as well as a conference-best 85-point victory over Ohio State.
The 16-point total is one better than the previous record of 17 set by Michigan State in 1959. The Badgers also bettered their previous Big Ten record for largest winning margin of 81, set last year, when they totaled a margin of 85 on Sunday.
Wisconsin junior Chris Solinsky stayed with Bairu for much of the race, but finished at 23:56.38 for second. Right behind him was freshman Matt Withrow at 24:06.58, and a tenth of a second later, fellow freshman Stuart Eagon crossed the line for fourth. The Badgers also placed Antony Ford, Christian Wagner, Time Nelson and Ben Gregory at positions six through ninth.
Indiana's Sean Jefferson broke up the sweep, finishing fifth with a time of 24:13.58.
Leaping four spots from a fifth-place finish in 2004, Ohio State turned up 101 points for second, paced by senior Brian Olinger's 10th-place finish at 24:41.38.
Minnesota finished a mere point behind the Buckeyes at third. Iowa slipped a spot from last year, landing in fourth with 124 points. It was also a narrow distance to fifth with Michigan taking the No. 5 spot with 125 points. Indiana totalled 137 points for sixth, after a runner-up finish in 2004. Michigan State remained steady from their 2004 finish at seventh, Purdue counted 235 points for an eighth-place finish.
Rounding out the team finishes, Penn State solidified the ninth spot with 239 points, while Illinois was not far behind with 241 for 10th.
In postseason awards announced November 2, Wisconsin's Bairu became the first Big Ten runner since Michigan's Kevin Sullivan to win three consecutive Athlete of the Year honors. Only Sullivan (1993-95, 97) and Indiana's Bob Kennedy (1988-90, 92) have won the annual award more than Bairu. Wisconsin's Matt Withrow was tabbed Freshman of the Year after finishing third at the Big Ten Championships last Sunday. The Badgers' Jerry Schumacher earned his fifth consecutive Big Ten Coach of the Year award in 2005, which marks his sixth honor in seven seasons. His sixth award ties the conference record for overall honors with former Wisconsin coach Martin Smith (1989-91-92-94-95-96). This marks the first time since Wisconsin in 2003 and the fourth time in Big Ten history (1991-93-03-05) a school has swept all postseason honors.