Athletics
2012-2013 Year in Review

Top Headlines

Ashley Spencer is only a sophomore but now she is a two-time NCAA champion in the 400m after defending her crown in Eugene, Ore., on June 7. Her time of 50.28 is a personal best, a school record, the fourth-best collegiate time ever and the fifth-best time in the world in 2013. Spencer's stellar season earned her Dike Eddelmen Female Athlete of the Year honors.

Later this summer, Spencer will compete for Team USA in the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.

 Recap   Watch Race   Post-Race Interview

The Illinois men's golf team placed second in the nation at the NCAA Championships, marking the highest finish in program history. On the way to the highest finish in program history, the Illini collected match-play victories over defending champion Texas and No. 1-seeded Cal.

Junior Thomas Pieters and freshman Charlie Danielson earned PING All-America honors, while head coach Mike Small was named Midwest Region Coach of the Year by the Golf Coaches Association of America for the fourth time in five years.

 Recap   Sights and Sounds

Coming into the 2013 NCAA Championship, no Fighting Illini wrestler had ever won an NCAA title at 125 pounds. Sophomore Jesse Delgado ended that streak with a 7-4 win over No. 4 seed Nico Megaludis of Penn State in the finals of the NCAA Championships.

Delgado became Illinois' first NCAA champion since Matt Lackey in 2003, and also became the first Illini to win NCAA and Big Ten title in the same season since Lackey in 2003.

 Recap   Watch Match   Final Bracket

Freshman walk-on Fred Hartville won the vault title at the NCAA Championship, marking the second-straight season the Illini produced a national vault champion. Paul Ruggeri took home the crown in 2012.

Just two weeks after winning the Big Ten Title in the same event, Hartville posted the second-highest vault score of his career with a 15.425 to claim the NCAA crown. Hartville also was named Illinois Male Newcomer of the Year for 2012-2013.

 Recap   Hartville Interview   Photos

With 0.9 seconds to play in a tie game, senior Tyler Griffey cut to the basket unguarded on an inbound play and dropped in the game-winning layup against No. 1 Indiana to send the home crowd at Assembly Hall into a court-storming frenzy.

It was the first time the Illini had beaten the No. 1 team since a 91-73 win over Wake Forest in 2004. The play was named the GEICO Play of the Year, and the victory ignited a five-game winning streak that propelled the Fighting Illini into the NCAA Tournament.

 Recap   Music Video   Storify

For the first time since 1996, the Fighting Illini women's track and field team took home the Big Ten Indoor Championship.

The squad crowned six total Big Ten champions: Stephanie Richartz (pole vault), Ashley Spencer (200m, 400m), Breeana Coleman (60m hurdles), Morolake Akinsosun (60m) & the 4x400 relay team of Asia Thomas, Morolake Akinosun, Marissa Golliday and Ashley Spencer.

 Recap   Final Results

Illinois continued to assert its recent conference dominance, winning its fifth-straight Big Ten men's golf championship by placing three players in the top 10, including Big Ten champion Thomas Pieters.

The Illini also swept the Big Ten individual honors with Pieters being named Big Ten Men's Golfer of the Year, Thomas Detry winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and head coach Mike Small earning his fifth-straight Big Ten Coach of the Year honor.

 Recap   Title-Clinching Putt   Big Ten 5-Peat

On March 9, senior Justin Parr recorded an infield single in the first game of a doubleheader at Baylor. That kick-started a historic 33-game hitting streak for the 2013 Big Ten Player of the Year. In fact, Parr hit safley in 49 of the Illini's 55 games in 2013, including hitting for the cycle on April 14 against Purdue. Parr was named a first-team All-American and led the Illini to their second NCAA Regional berth in the last three years.

Parr was named the Dike Eddelman Male Athlete of the Year and was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the eighth round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

 2013 Stats   Season Recap   Parr Interview

Director of Athletic Mike Thomas announced Illinois will host a "Chicago Homecoming" this fall for the thousands of UI alumni in Chicagoland when the Fighting Illini face the Washington Huskies at historic Soldier Field on Sept. 14.

In addition to the game, fans will be able to enjoy live music, food and interactive games at Illini Fest, a free tailgate prior to the event. Unique travel options are also available for fans and University of Illinois students.

 Chicago Homecoming Site   Buy Tickets   Promo Video

Illinois was well-represented in conference and national academic award lists this year. Six teams earned NCAA APR Public Recognition awards and 163 student-athletes were recognized by the conference as Academic All-Big Ten honorees.

Men's basketball star Brandon Paul and women's gymnastics standout Alina Weinstein took home the prestigious Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor, awarded annually at each conference school to a male and female senior student-athlete who demonstrates proficiency in scholarship and athletics.

 NCAA APR   Spring Academic All-B1G   Winter Academic All-B1G   Fall Academic All-B1G   Scholar-Athlete Awards

From May 16-27, the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex at Atkins Tennis Center was the epicenter of college tennis, hosting the NCAA Tennis Championship for the first time in history.

Five Illini competed: Jared Hiltzik (men's singles), Ross Guignon and Tim Kopinski (men's doubles) and Rachael White and Melissa Kopinski (women's doubles). White and Kopinski became the first Illini women's duo to reach the quarterfinals. The 2003 Illinois men's squad that went undefeated and won the national title also was honored at the event.

 Recap   Sights and Sounds

Thanks to a student referendum and generous donations through I FUND, Director of Athletics Mike Thomas announced the projected $157 million plan to upgrade State Farm Center with premium seating and first-class player facilities. Construction is set to begin following the 2013-2014 season with the project expected to be completed by the start of the 2016-2017 season.

In addition to the physical changes, the University of Illinois and State Farm announced a 30-year agreement for the naming rights of the historic building.

 Illinois Renaissance   Fly-Through Video   Renderings

HEADLINES
W. Basketball | 07/30/2014
Football | 07/29/2014
W. Cross Country; Track & Field | 07/31/2014
M. Cross Country; Track & Field | 07/31/2014
M. Basketball | 07/25/2014
Football | 07/28/2014
M. Basketball | 07/24/2014