Michigan's Webster Named Big Ten Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Year
Nov. 2, 2006
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - Minnesota sophomore Chris Rombough and Michigan junior Erin Webster have been named the men's and women's Big Ten Cross Country Athletes of the Year, conference officials announced today. Wisconsin's Brandon Bethke and Hanna Grinaker were both named Freshman of the Year, while UW men's coach Jerry Schumacher and Mike McGuire of Michigan repeated as Coach of the Year. The individual postseason awards were determined by a vote of the Big Ten's cross country head coaches.
Rombough, who last Sunday became the first Golden Gopher since 1971 to win conference medalist honors, is also the only Minnesota runner to ever be honored as the Big Ten Athlete of the Year since the award was first given in 1987. The Fremont, Wis., native covered the 8,000-meter IU Cross Country Course in a time of 24:05, one second in front of runner-up Stuart Eagon of Wisconsin.
Webster, a two-time first team All-Big Ten selection, is the seventh Wolverine to be named the conference's top female runner and the first since Rebecca Walter in 2002. The Dearborn, Mich., native cruised to a 12-second victory over teammate Alyson Kohlmeier last Sunday in a Big Ten 6,000-meter record time of 20:23. Michigan's sixth Big Ten champion crossed the finish line 10 seconds faster than the conference's previous top time of 20:33, set by Michigan State's Danette Doetzel in 2004.
For the second-straight season and the fourth occasion in the past six years, a Wisconsin men's runner has been named Freshman of the Year. Bethke finished 11th at the conference meet with a time of 24:44 and just three seconds behind teammate and last year's Freshman of the Year Matt Withrow. A native of Lake Forest, Calif., Bethke also earned second team All-Big Ten honors for his efforts.
On the women's side, Grinaker is the fifth Badger to be named Freshman of the Year and the first UW newcomer to accomplish the feat since Erica Palmer in 1998. Grinaker, a Detroit Lakes, Minn., native, placed third overall at the Big Ten Championships with a time of 20:39, marking the highest finish for a freshman since Michigan State's Doetzel claimed the individual title in 2004.
Wisconsin's Schumacher earns his record-setting sixth consecutive Big Ten Coach of the Year award and his seventh in the last eight 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. 1 in the nation, claimed a 58-point victory over Michigan last Sunday, recording 27 points and boasting all five scored runners in the top 10 overall. This year's team title was Wisconsin's 40th overall - a total that equals the next four teams combined - Michigan State (14), Indiana (13), Michigan (9) and Minnesota (4).
Michigan's McGuire earns his fifth-straight Coach of the Year selection and his eighth overall, which ranks second in the conference behind the nine annual awards of former Wisconsin coach Peter Tegen. The third-ranked Wolverines claimed their fifth-straight team title on Sunday - a string that ranks one behind Wisconsin's streaks of six from 1983-88 and 1995-2000. This past Sunday, Michigan ran to a 39-point win over Wisconsin in an impressive field that featured six schools ranked in the nation's top 25. The Wolverines have previously won three-consecutive titles from 1992-94. In all, U-M has now finished in the top two at the championships 14 times in 15 seasons under McGuire's tutelage.
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' Jason Bill and Stephanie Baliga; Indiana's Tim McLeod and Jessica Gall; Iowa's Jeff Kent and Racheal Marchand; Michigan's Lex Williams and Arianne Field; Michigan State's Justin Zanotti and Katie Kelly; Minnesota's David VanOrsdel and Ladia Albertson-Junkans; Northwestern's Allison King; Ohio State's Alex Bailey and Melanie Price; Penn State's Chris Nirschel and Sonja Hinish; Purdue's Robert Bellinoti and Kristin Phillips and Wisconsin's Tim Nelson and Emily Post.
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 school year.
First-team and second-team All-Big Ten honors were awarded at the championship to the first seven and second seven finishers, respectively, for both men and women.