Big Ten Enjoys Successful Spring Sports Season

June 28, 2013

Park Ridge, Ill. -

Big Ten schools enjoyed considerable success during the spring sport season highlighted by a national team championship in rowing (Ohio State). Conference teams won numerous individual titles, including rowing (Ohio State’s first varsity four and second varsity eight), men’s tennis (Ohio State’s Blaz Rola) and men’s and women’s track & field (Indiana’s Derek Drouin and Illinois’ Ashley Spencer). The spring season also featured runner-up finishes in men’s golf (Illinois), a third-place effort in women’s golf (Purdue), semifinalists in men’s tennis (Ohio State) and women’s lacrosse (Northwestern), a baseball team advancing to the College World Series (Indiana) and two softball squads in the Women’s College World Series (Michigan and Nebraska).

Overall during the 2012-13 academic year, six Big Ten schools combined for seven team national championships (Indiana men’s soccer, Michigan men’s gymnastics and men’s swimming & diving, Minnesota women’s ice hockey, Nebraska bowling, Ohio State rowing and Penn State wrestling), along with four runner-up finishes (Illinois men’s golf, Michigan men’s basketball, Penn State women’s soccer and Wisconsin men’s cross country). Conference schools have claimed at least six national titles in each of the last five academic years and this season’s seven crowns are the second-most in a single season. In addition to the team success, Big Ten institutions combined for 27 individual national titles and 27 individual runner-up finishes. Forty-six student-athletes were named Academic All-America during the 2012-13 year, bringing the Big Ten’s total to over 1,450 honorees, more than any other conference.

The Indiana baseball team advanced to the College World Series (CWS), becoming the first Big Ten squad to advance to the season-ending event since Michigan in 1984. The Big Ten Champion Hoosiers completed a two-game sweep of Florida State in the Tallahassee Super Regional to move on to the CWS. Illinois also competed in the NCAA Championship, its second appearance in the event in the last three seasons. Illinois’ Justin Parr and Indiana’s Kyle Schwarber were both named to multiple All-America teams, while Minnesota’s Troy Larson earned Academic All-America honors.

The Illinois men’s golf team placed second at the NCAA Championships, the highest finish in program history and the highest finish by a northern school since Minnesota won the national title in 2002. The Illini advanced to the NCAA Championship after defeating No. 1 seed California and No. 4 seed Texas in the semifinals and quarterfinals, respectively, of match play competition. In addition to Illinois, three other conference schools participated in regional competition, including Indiana, Iowa and Northwestern, and three individuals from Michigan State, Minnesota and Purdue were named to the field. Big Ten Player of the Year Thomas Pieters and Charlie Danielson of Illinois and Jack Perry of Northwestern claimed All-America honors.

The 2013 women’s golf season was highlighted by two top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships, as Purdue placed third and Michigan State finished ninth. The Boilermakers’ Paula Reto placed third individually, while the Spartans’ Christine Meier finished tied for sixth. Reto and Big Ten Player of the Year Caroline Powers of Michigan State were named to WGCA All-America teams. Powers was also tabbed an Academic All-America selection. As a team, Northwestern and Wisconsin also participated in the national championship round.

The No. 1 Ohio State rowing team made program history, claiming its first national team title after earning first-place finishes in the first varsity four and second varsity eight and a third-place finish in the first varsity eight. The first varsity four, made up of Taylore Urban, Sara Handa, Chloe Meyer, Aina Cid-Centelles and coxswain Dara Schnoll, won its second consecutive national crown, while the second varsity eight crew of Daphne Socha, Katie Beletskaya, Silvia DeMatteis, Stephanie Johnson, Nicole Becks, Lauren Eckles, Samantha Fowle, Catherine Shields and coxswain Amanda Poll closed out the season with a perfect 12-0 record. The Buckeyes are the first Big Ten team to win a national team title in rowing. Michigan and Wisconsin also competed in the national meet, each sending boats to the final day of competition. 

Four conference squads participated in the NCAA Softball Championship, the most since 2009, as Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin were selected to the field. The Big Ten Champion Wolverines and Huskers advanced to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS), marking the first time since 2001 that two Big Ten teams appeared in the event. Five conference softball standouts were named NFCA Division I All-Americans, as Penn State’s Cassidy Bell was tabbed a first-team honoree, Michigan's Sierra Romero and Nebraska's Tatum Edwards garnered second-team All-America accolades and Michigan's Ashley Lane and Minnesota's Kaitlyn Richardson earned third-team laurels. Additionally, the Huskers’ Taylor Edwards was named to the 2013 WCWS All-Tournament Team and Richardson, Northwestern’s Marisa Bast and Purdue’s Andie Varsho earned Academic All-America recognition.

On the tennis court, Ohio State's Blaz Rola won the NCAA Singles Championship after defeating Virginia’s Jarmere Jenkins, 7-6 (8), 6-4, to claim the crown. The senior is the first Big Ten student-athlete to win the national singles title since Illinois’ Amer Delic in 2003. Rola led the Big Ten Champion Buckeyes to the national semifinals and a 35-3 overall record. In addition to Ohio State, five other conference squads were selected to the NCAA Championships – Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern. Five Big Ten singles players and three conference doubles pairs competed in the national tournament. Off the court, Illinois’ Bruno Abdelnour and Iowa’s Garret Dunn were named Academic All-Americans.   

Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue represented the Big Ten at the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships, marking the third time in the last four years the conference boasted at least five teams in the tournament. The Wolverines, Huskers and Wildcats each advanced to the Round of 16 in the competition. In singles play, four Big Ten student-athletes participated in the NCAA tournament, including Nebraska’s Mary Weatherholt, who advanced to the national title match. Additionally, six conference doubles pairs were selected to the national field.

The conference was well-represented at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, as 130 student-athletes from every Big Ten men's and women's team competed at the national meet. On the men’s side, Indiana’s Derek Drouin won his fifth national title in the high jump, becoming the first person in NCAA history to win the high jump crown five times. Nebraska’s Chad Wright and Penn State’s Casimir Loxsom placed second in the discus and 800-meter dash, respectively, while Ohio State’s Mike Hartfield was third in the long jump and Purdue’s Geoff Davis finished third in the high jump. On the women’s side, Illinois’ Ashley Spencer defended her national title in the 400-meter dash with a new collegiate best time of 50.28. Michigan State’s Beth Rohl recorded her highest national finish in the discus, placing third in the event. Overall, 44 Big Ten student-athletes earned first-team All-America recognition and 13 student-athletes claimed Academic All-America honors, including Indiana’s Andy Bayer, who won the Academic All-America of the Year award for Division I men’s track & field and cross country. Illinois’ Marissa Golliday and Brandon Stryganek, Iowa’s Mareike Schrulle, Michigan’s Rebecca Addison, Jack Greenlee and Jillian Smith, Minnesota’s Quentin Mege, Nebraska’s Bjorn Barrefors, Mara Griva and Morgan Wilken, Penn State’s Robby Creese and Wisconsin’s Elliot Krause also earned Academic All-America laurels.

Two men’s and two women’s lacrosse teams from Big Ten institutions were selected to their respective NCAA Championships. Ohio State and Penn State participated in the field on the men’s side, as the Buckeyes advanced to the quarterfinals. On the women’s side, Northwestern was a national semifinalist and Penn State played in the quarterfinals. Nine student-athletes from conference institutions were named All-America: Northwestern’s Bridget Bianco, Erin Fitzgerald, Gabby Flibotte and Taylor Thornton, Ohio State’s Logan Schuss and Penn State’s Katie Guy, Austin Kaut, Kelly Lechner and Maggie McCormick. The Nittany Lions’ Tatum Coffey was tabbed Academic All-America.  

Below is a complete list of the national titles won by Big Ten institutions and student-athletes during the 2012-13 academic year.

Indiana men’s soccer
Michigan men’s gymnastics
Michigan men’s swimming & diving
Minnesota women’s ice hockey
Nebraska bowling
Ohio State rowing
Penn State wrestling

Rebecca Addison, Michigan State indoor track & field
Nicole Becks, Ohio State rowing
Katie Beletskaya, Ohio State rowing
Marco Canevari, Ohio State fencing
Aina Cid-Centelles, Ohio State rowing
Jesse Delgado, Illinois wrestling
Silvia DeMatteis, Ohio State rowing
Derek Drouin, Indiana indoor/outdoor track & field
Amanda Eccleston, Michigan State indoor track & field
Lauren Eckles, Ohio State rowing
Sean Fletcher, Michigan men’s swimming & diving
Samantha Fowle, Ohio State rowing
Sara Handa, Ohio State rowing
Fred Hartville, Illinois men’s gymnastics
Trevor Howard, Penn State men’s gymnastics
Connor Jaeger, Michigan men’s swimming & diving
Stephanie Johnson, Ohio State rowing
Maya Long, Michigan State indoor track & field
Casey Matthews, Purdue women’s swimming & diving
Chloe Meyer, Ohio State rowing
Kristi Mickelson, Nebraska bowling
Sam Mikulak, Michigan men’s gymnastics
Tony Nelson, Minnesota wrestling
Michael Newburger, Ohio State men’s gymnastics
Bruno Ortiz, Michigan men’s swimming & diving
Miguel Ortiz, Michigan men’s swimming & diving
Amanda Poll, Ohio State rowing
Blaz Rola, Ohio State men’s tennis
Ed Ruth, Penn State wrestling
Joanna Sampson, Michigan women’s gymnastics
Dara Schnoll, Ohio State rowing
Catherine Shields, Ohio State rowing
Jillian Smith, Michigan State indoor track & field
Daphne Socha, Ohio State rowing
Ashley Spencer, Illinois outdoor track & field
Derek St. John, Iowa wrestling
Logan Stieber, Ohio State wrestling
Andrew Teduits, Wisconsin men’s swimming & diving
Zach Turk, Michigan men’s swimming & diving
Taylore Urban, Ohio State rowing
Quentin Wright, Penn State wrestling