Wisconsin's Withrow and Iowa's Nukuri Named Big Ten Cross Country Athletes of the Year

Oct. 31, 2007

PARK RIDGE, Ill. - Wisconsin junior Matt Withrow and Iowa senior Diane Nukuri have been named men's and women's Big Ten Cross Country Athletes of the Year, conference officials announced today.  Minnesota's Hassan Mead and Illinois' Danelle Woods were named Freshmen of the Year; while Badger coach Jerry Schumacher and Gary Wilson of Minnesota take home Coach of the Year honors.

Withrow became the eighth Wisconsin harrier to win the Big Ten men's individual Championship in the past ten years.  His time from last year's event improved by nearly a full minute to register 23:44.37 in 2007, and his place advanced eight spots for the victory.  The Tinley Park, Ill., native also earned first-team All-Big Ten Honors after second-team honors last season.   

Nukuri, a four-time Big Ten Runner of the Week honoree, becomes the second women Hawkeye runner to garner Athlete of the Year accolades.  Her Championships performance this year shattered the event record set in 2006 by over 45 seconds breaking the tape in 19:37.60.  The Ontario native covered the course 12 seconds faster than the runner-up. 

Minnesota picks up its second all-time men's Freshmen of the Year award with Mead's performance.  The Gopher newcomer ran for a second-place finish in this year's Championships with a time of 23:47.70, earning a spot on the All-Big Ten first team. 

For the third time in five years the Illini women receive the conference Freshmen of the Year award.  Woods finished 24th in the 2007 Championships race, timing in at 20:55.90 - 14 seconds ahead of the next freshman.  The Ottawa, Ont., native helped pace the Illinois squad to a fourth-place showing, one spot better than in 2006.

Wisconsin's Schumacher earns his record-setting seventh consecutive Big Ten Coach of the Year award and his eighth in the last nine seasons.  His career total surpasses former Badger coach Martin Smith, who was honored with the award on six occasions (1989-91-92-94-95-96).  Wisconsin, currently ranked No. 4 in the nation, claimed a 32-point victory over Minnesota last Sunday, recording 33 points and boasting all five scored runners in the top 10 overall.  This year's team title was Wisconsin's 41st overall - a total that almost triples the next highest team total.



Minnesota's Wilson earns the Gophers their first Big Ten women's cross country Coach of the Year award.  On Sunday, Minnesota claimed team triumph for the first time since the1969 Championships on the campus of Indiana.  The SUNY Cortland graduate is in his 23rd season as head coach and will lead his No. 6 ranked Gopher squad into the Midwest regionals, looking to top their second-place finish from a year ago.

The conference office also announced today honorees from each of the 21 cross country squads 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 cross country are Illinois' Trent Hoerr and Angela Bizzarri; Indiana's Cole Hardcre and Sarah Pease; Iowa's Andy Napier and Jessica Schmidt; Michigan's Mike Woods and Erin Webster; Michigan State's Max Goldak and Becky McCormack; Minnesota's Mike McFarland and Ladia Albertson-Junkans; Northwestern's Carly Brown; Ohio State's Alex Bailey and Ellen Birmingham; Penn State's Dennis O'Connor and Sonja Hinish; Purdue's Matt DeSilva and Danielle Ginther and Wisconsin's Brandon Bethke and Amanda Ganser. 

These 21 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 academic year.

First-team and second-team All-Big Ten honors were awarded at the Championships to the first seven and second seven finishers, respectively, for both men and women.

 Men's Athlete of the Year             Women's Athlete of the Year
  Matt Withrow, Wisconsin                     Diane Nukuri, Iowa
Men's Freshman of the Year       Women's Freshman of the Year
   Hassan Mead, Minnesota                Danelle Woods, Illinois
 Men's Coach of the Year             Women's Coach of the Year
Jerry Schumacher, Wisconsin              Gary Wilson, Minnesota
Men's Sportsmanship Honorees: Trent Hoerr, ILL, Cole Hardcre, IND, Andy Napier, IOWA, Mike Woods, MICH, Max Goldak, MSU, Mike McFarland, MINN, Alex Bailey, OSU, Dennis O'Connor, PSU, Matt DeSilva, PUR, Brandon Bethke, WIS 

Women's Sportsmanship Honorees: Angela Bizzarri, ILL, Sarah Pease, IND, Jessica Schmidt, IOWA, Erin Webster, MICH, Becky McCormack, MSU, Ladia Albertson-Junkans, MINN, Carly Brown, NU, Ellen Birmingham, OSU, Sonja Hinish, PSU, Danielle Ginther, PUR, Amanda Ganser, WIS