March 4, 2014
Rosemont, Ill. -
The Big Ten Conference office announced the 2014 Big Ten women’s indoor track & field individual award winners on Tuesday. Highlighting the list, Michigan’s Cindy Ofili was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year and Purdue’s Dani Bunch earned the nod as Field Athlete of the Year. Penn State’s Kiah Seymour was tabbed Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships and Michigan State’s Tori Franklin took home Field Athlete of the Championships laurels. Michigan’s Erin Finn was tabbed Freshman of the Year by the conference coaches, while Nittany Lion head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan was named Coach of the Year by her peers.
Ofili was tabbed Track Athlete of the Year after capping her impressive indoor campaign with three top-five finishes at the Big Ten Championships, including a first-place effort in the 60-meter hurdles (8.08). She also finished third in the 60-meter dash and fourth in the 200-meter dash. Her time in the hurdles is the fastest in the Big Ten this season and fifth nationally. The sophomore is the fifth Wolverine to collect Athlete of the Year honors and first since her sister, Tiffany Ofili, in 2008.
Bunch collected Field Athlete of the Year recognition after being named Field Athlete of the Week six times this season. She posted the best marks in the Big Ten in both the weight throw and shot put this season, which rank third and fourth in the nation, respectively. At the championships, she won the weight throw and finished second in the shot put. She is the second Boilermaker to win Field Athlete of the Year, joining Leah Eber in 2012.
Seymour earned her award after posting two first-place finishes and a second-place effort at the Big Ten Championships. She won the 400-meter dash and anchored the winning 4x400 relay team that clinched the team title for the Nittany Lions. The sophomore also placed second in the 200-meter dash. The honor is the fourth in Penn State history and first since Bridget Franek in 2010.
Franklin garnered her honor after breaking the Big Ten record in the triple jump (13.56 meters) at the Big Ten Championships. Her mark in the triple jump ranks third in the NCAA this season. The junior also placed fifth in the 200-meter dash, sixth in the 4x400-meter relay and 13th in the long jump. Franklin is the first Spartan to earn Athlete of the Championships laurels.
To cap her first indoor season, Finn posted a strong performance at the Big Ten Championships en route to Freshman of the Year laurels. She took home the 5,000-meter title in 15:56.73, breaking a 25-year old Wolverine record and besting the rest of the field by nearly 30 seconds. She also placed second in the 3,000-meter run.
Alford-Sullivan was tabbed Coach of the Year after leading the Nittany Lions to their third conference title and first since 2010. The honor is the third of her career, as she also earned the accolade in 2004 and 2010.
The Big Ten Conference office recognizes student-athletes from each team as Sportsmanship Award Honorees. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Honorees for women’s indoor track and field are Illinois’ Amanda Duvendack, Indiana’s Nakel McClinton, Iowa’s Courtney Fritz, Michigan’s Amber Smith, Michigan State’s Tori Franklin, Minnesota’s Cassy Opitz, Nebraska’s Ellie Grooters, Ohio State’s Indya Slaughter, Penn State’s Dani Kocjancic, Purdue’s Dani Bunch and Wisconsin’s Courtney Walden. These student-athletes are now candidates for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the conference office will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year.
Track Athlete of the Year
Cindy Ofili, Michigan
Field Athlete of the Year
Dani Bunch, Purdue
Freshman of the Year
Erin Finn, Michigan
Track Athlete of the Championships
Kiah Seymour, Penn State
Field Athlete of the Championships
Tori Franklin, Michigan State
Coach of the Year
Beth Alford-Sullivan, Penn State