Minnesota's Mead and Michigan State's Bush Named Big Ten Cross Country Athletes of the Year

Nov. 5, 2008

PARK RIDGE, Ill. – Minnesota sophomore Hassan Mead and Michigan State senior Nicole Bush have been named men’s and women’s Big Ten Cross Country Athletes of the Year, conference officials announced today.  Penn State’s Kyle Dawson and Wisconsin’s Caitlin Comfort were named Freshmen of the Year; while Badger coach Mick Byrne and Gary Wilson of Minnesota take home Coach of the Year honors.

Mead becomes just the second Big Ten Athlete of the Year in Minnesota program history with current teammate Chris Rombough winning the award in 2006.  Last season’s Freshman of the Year Mead, took home top individual honors at the 2008 Big Ten Cross Country Championships with a winning time of 24:26.4, helping his squad to a third-place finish.  The Minneapolis native downed the competition by over nine seconds in the 8,000-meter race.

Bush was crowned the Big Ten individual champion last weekend after winning the 6,000-meter race by nearly 12 seconds, breaking the tape at 20:15.8.  She becomes the Spartans’ fourth all-time conference Athlete of the Year (Doetzel in 2004, Carson in 2002 and Allison in 1991).  Paced by Bush, MSU finished third overall as a team with 83 points. 

Penn State picks up its first all-time yearly Big Ten individual accolade in 2008 Freshman of the Year Dawson.  The Nittany Lion newcomer ran for a fifth-place finish in this year’s Championships with a time of 24:48.2, earning a spot on the All-Big Ten first team.  PSU earned a fourth-place team honor at this year’s championships, its highest since 2000.

After a 12th-place showing at the 2008 Big Ten Championships, Comfort becomes only the second Badger to garner Freshman of the Year accolades in the past decade (Grinaker in 2006).  Her 6,000-meter time of 21:18.7 was third-best for Wisconsin as the Badgers took home second-place team hardware. 



Wisconsin collects its eighth-straight Big Ten Coach of the Year accolade as Byrne takes over the Badger program, replacing eight-time Coach of the Year winner Jerry Schumacher.  Wisconsin won its 10th-consecutive Big Ten title and 42nd overall last weekend, racking up 40 team points.   

Minnesota’s Wilson repeats as Women’s Coach of the Year, earning the program’s second all-time award.  The Gophers have earned back-to-back team championships after having never claimed the Big Ten event since its inception in 1981.  Minnesota currently ranks seventh in the nation, which tops the conference, as they prepare for regional action.

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’ Jeremy Stevens and Katie Engel; Indiana’s Brennon Plotner and Sarah Pease; Iowa’s Sam Bailin and Sarah Perry; Michigan’s Brandon Fellows and Alyson Kohlmeier; Michigan State’s Adam Sprangel and Becky McCormack; Minnesota’s Ben Puhl and Gabriele Anderson; Northwestern’s Rachel Kaminski; Ohio State’s Taylor Candella and Sarah Foster; Penn State’s Teddy Quinn and Katherine Fitzgerald; Purdue’s Steve Swank and Kristen Phillips and Wisconsin’s Landon Peacock and Sarah Hurley

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

Hassan Mead, Minnesota

Nicole Bush, Michigan State

Men’s Freshman of the Year

Women’s Freshman of the Year

Kyle Dawson, Penn State

Caitlin Comfort, Wisconsin

Men’s Coach of the Year

Women’s Coach of the Year

Mick Byrne, Wisconsin

Gary Wilson, Minnesota



Men’s Sportsmanship Honorees

Women’s Sportsmanship Honorees

Jeremy Stevens, ILL

Katie Engel, ILL

Brennon Plotner, IND

Sarah Pease, IND

Sam Bailin, IOWA

Sarah Perry, IOWA

Brandon Fellows, MICH

Alyson Kohlmeier, MICH

Adam Sprangel, MSU

Becky McCormack, MSU

Ben Puhl, MINN

Gabriele Anderson, MINN


Rachel Kaminski, NU

Taylor Candella, OSU

Sarah Foster, OSU

Teddy Quinn, PSU

Katherine Fitzgerald, PSU

Steve Swank, PUR

Kristen Phillips, PUR

Landon Peacock, WIS

Sarah Hurley, WIS