Penn State's Jennifer Leatherman is the 2006 Outdoor Athlete of the Year
Indiana junior David Neville and Penn State senior Jennifer Leatherman have been named the men's and women's Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Athletes of the Year, announced by the conference office today. The Illini's Dominique Worsley and the Golden Gophers' Heather Dorniden garnered Freshman of the Year accolades, while Wisconsin's Ed Nuttycombe and Minnesota's Gary Wilson collected Coach of the Year laurels. The individual postseason awards were determined by a vote of the league's track and field head coaches.
Neville, a Merrillville, Ind., native, captured two individual titles and ran the lead-off leg of a victorious Hoosier relay last weekend in East Lansing en route to earning Athlete of the Championships honors. The junior recorded NCAA regional qualifying times of 21.85 and 45.49 in the 200- and 400-meter dash events, respectively. He also helped the Indiana 4x400-meter relay squad claim the title after finishing in 3:08.21. Neville, a 2006 first team All-Big Ten honoree, became just the fourth student-athlete to earn Athlete of the Championships laurels twice in his career as he was also honored in 2004.
Leatherman, a native of Timbo, Ark., was a double-winner at the championships, winning the discus and the hammer throw events after meeting distances of 167'08" (51.10 meters) and 197'08" (60.25 meters), respectively. The senior, who earned her ninth-career Athlete of the Week honor this season (indoor and outdoor combined), also placed second in the shot put with a mark of 51'08.75" (15.76 meters). Leatherman leads all conference student-athletes in track and field as she boasts the most career weekly honors. Perdita Felicien, a former Illini standout, is the closest to Leatherman on the list as she was named Athlete of the Week four times during the 2001 season, once in the indoor campaign and three times during the outdoor competition.
Dorniden became the second-consecutive Gopher to claim the Freshman of the Year award on the women's side as teammate Liz Podominick garnered the accolade last season. A native of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., Dorniden entered this year's championships with an 800-meter run NCAA Indoor Championship under her belt and finished second and third in two events that the Big Ten Championships. The freshman turned in a time of 2:02.77 in the 800-meter run to finish as the runner-up, just .04 seconds behind Geena Gall of Michigan who claimed the event title. Dorniden also competed in the 1,500-meter run, clocking in at 4:20.42, good enough for third place.
Shan Cox, a Westbury, N.Y., native, helped add 40 points to Penn State's 115 team total after capturing two individual titles and anchoring two relays to gold-medal performances. The sophomore, who was name Athlete of the Championships on the women's side, began the championships with first-place finishes in both the 200- and 400-meter dashes, clocking in at 23.41 and 52.57, respectively. She went on to run the last leg for her 4x100- and 4x400-meter relay squads that claimed event titles with times of 45.18 and 3.36.95, respectively.
Nuttycombe earned his third-straight Big Ten Coach of the Year award, making it his ninth honor in the last 12 seasons. The Badger men claimed their 16th overall Big Ten Outdoor Championships title and their sixth in the last seven years. Wisconsin scored 161.5 points, and also won its third-consecutive Big Ten "Triple Crown" - conference titles in cross country, and indoor and outdoor track and field during the same academic year. The Badgers also notched their third three-peat for the outdoor season. UW won three-straight titles from 1995-1997, 2000-2002 and now 2004-2006.
Wilson was recognized by his peers as women's outdoor Coach of the Year for the first time in his career. Under his guidance, the Minnesota women have captured their first outdoor conference crown. At this year's championships, the Gophers had five champions, two second-place finishers and six third-place medalists, to help Minnesota earn 152.50 team point total.
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' Abe Jones and Yvonne Mensah; Indiana's David Neville and Ara Towns; Iowa's Tim Brodersen and Erin O'Hern; Michigan's Rondell Ruff and Katie Erdman; Michigan State's Phil Marlatt and Taren James; Minnesota's Erik Grumstrup and Jessica Stephen; Ohio State's Brian Olinger and Jenna Harris; Penn State's Clarence Smith and Kim Markel; Purdue's Bryce Smith and Jocelyn Lindsay and Wisconsin's Demi Omole and Linsey Blaisdell. 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.
MEN'S ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: David Neville, Indiana
WOMEN'S ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Jennifer Leatherman, Penn State
Women's First Team All-Big Ten
Men's Second Team