Big Ten Announces Outdoor Track and Field Honors
May 16, 2007
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - Michigan's Anna Willard was named the Big Ten women's Track Athlete of the Year and of the Championships while teammate Bettie Wade was named the women's Field Athlete of the Year and of the Championships. On the men's side, Wisconsin's Demi Omole was named the Track Athlete of the Year and of the Championships, while Minnesota's Derek Gearman was named Field Athlete of the Year and of the Championships, the Big Ten office announced on Wednesday.
Gary Winckler of Illinois was named the women's coach of the year for the sixth time in his career, while Wisconsin mentor Ed Nuttycombe received the men's honor for the fourth consecutive year and the 10th time in his career.
Rounding out the postseason awards, Penn State's Bridget Franek was named the women's Freshman of the Year, and Purdue's Jon Pullum received men's first-year honors.
Willard and Wade are the first Wolverines to ever receive awards for excellence throughout the year, while Tania Longe (1998) was the only other Michigan athlete to receive championships honors.
Willard won three individual events at the 2007 Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships last weekend, setting a meet record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:57.90. The senior also took home the gold in the 1,500- (4:15.93) and the 5,000-meter (16:23.57) runs. During the regular season, Willard owned the conference's top times in the 1,500 (4:15.99) and 5,000 (15:53.36) as well as the second-fastest mark in the 800 meters (2:03.94). Willard's regular-season time in the 800 meters is currently fourth-best in the country while her championships time in the 1,500 meters is also the nation's fourth-fastest.
Wade became the first Wolverine since Longe in 1998 to win the heptathlon at the Big Ten championships, totaling 5,722 points in the event, which is the largest amount since Longe put up 5,861 in 1997. Wade placed first in three events en route to the heptathlon title, winning the high jump, shot put and long jump. The sophomore's score is currently the fourth-best in NCAA Division I this season. Wade also took home the silver medal in the championships high jump, clearing a height of 6'00.00".
Omole won the 100- (10.19) and 200-meter (20.92) dashes at the 2007 conference championships, becoming the first Big Ten athlete to ever win the 100-meter race in four consecutive years. The senior was also part of the winning 4x100-meter relay team for the fourth straight year, making him the first athlete in history to win two events in four consecutive championships. Omole also set the standard in the 100- and 200-meter races during the regular season while the Wisconsin 4x100 squad also notched the Big Ten's best regular-season time. The senior's time in the 100-meters is currently the fifth-fastest in the country.
Gearman recorded team points for the Gophers in four events at the Big Ten championships, placing second in the high jump and the long jump and fourth in the triple jump. The senior was also part of the Gophers' 4x100-meter relay team which clocked in fourth. During the regular season, Gearman posted top-five marks in the conference in all three jumping events, including the best distance in the long jump (24'09.00"). The senior also qualified for NCAA Regionals in the high jump (7'2.50") and the triple jump (51'00.00").
Franek is the second Nittany Lion to receive Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. Franek finished third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the championships last weekend, clocking in at 10:05.96. During the regular season, the freshman posted the best time in the Big Ten in that event with an NCAA Regional qualifying mark of 9:59.21, which is currently the fourth-best time in the nation. The freshman also qualified for NCAA Regionals in the 1,500-meter run at 4:21.16.
Pullum is the fourth Boilermaker to earn Freshman of the Year honors and the first to take home the award since Michael Turner in 1996. Pullum won the discus throw at this year's championships, throwing for a distance of 177'08". The distance set a career high for the freshman and qualified him for NCAA Regionals.
The conference office also announced honorees from each team for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. 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 men's and women's outdoor track and field are Illinois' Lesiba Masheto and Camile Robinson; Indana's Doug Dayhoff and Vera Neuenswander; Iowa's Micah VanDenend and Sarah Burgett; Michigan's Jeff Porter and Katie Erdman; Michigan State's Ryan McMillian and Anna Coster; Minnesota's Walter Langkau and Liz Alabi; Ohio State's Leonard Jatsek and Veronica Jatsek; Penn State's Tyler McCandless and Amber Strouse; Purdue's John Porter and Laura Farley; and Wisconsin's Nathan Brown and Alex McCannel. These 20 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.
A complete list of individual honors as well as the All-Big Ten teams can be found below.
MEN'S INDIVIDUAL HONORS
Track Athlete of the Year: Demi Omole, Wisconsin
WOMEN'S INDIVIDUAL HONORS
Track Athlete of the Year: Anna Willard, Michigan
ALL-BIG TEN TEAMS
Men's First Team Men's Second Team
Women's First Team Women's Second Team
BIG TEN SPORTSMANSHIP HONOREES
School Men's Women's