Illini Garner Multiple B1G Post Season Awards
Feb. 27, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- On Wednesday morning the Big Ten Conference announced its 2013 indoor track and field All-Big Ten teams and individual award winners. After winning their first Big Ten title since the 1996 season, the Illini garnered four of the six awards. Sophomore Ashley Spencer was named Track Athlete of the Year and of the Championships, newcomer Morolake Akinosun notched Freshman of the Year and Illinois Head Coach Tonja Buford-Bailey was named the Women's Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year as voted on by her peers.
Spencer, who also earned first-team All-Big Ten honors, defended her three Big Ten titles which she won last year including the 200m, 400m and was part of the 4x400m relay. The sophomore won the 200m with a season best time of 23.30 which ranks 11th in the country and placed first in the 400m with a new Big Ten meet record time of 52.17. Spencer also helped the 4x400m relay squad defend their conference title as she, Asia Thomas, Akinosun, and Marissa Golliday set a school, Big Ten Conference and Big Ten meet record.
The Indianapolis, Ind., native is just the third Illini runner to earn Track Athlete of the Year as coach Buford-Bailey last earned the title in 1993. Spencer is also the sixth Illini to earn Indoor Track Athlete of the Championships honors since the 1992 season as Aja Evans last earned title title in 2010.
Akinosun is the sixth Illini runner to earn Freshman of the Year honors since the 1993 season as Spencer won the title last year. The freshman won the Big Ten 60m crown as she crossed the finish line with a career best time of 7.32 which set a new facility record, is tied for 10th fastest in the nation and ranks fourth best in Illinois history. The Aurora, Ill., native also finished runner-up in the 200m, setting another lifetime best with a time of 23.47 which is third fastest in the school record books.
Coach Buford-Bailey was honored after leading the team to their first Big Ten title since the 1996 season. The Orange and Blue edged Nebraska for the conference crown 115-112. Along with winning their sixth indoor conference title as a program, the Illini won five Big Ten individual titles plus the 4x400m relay. The Illini also won Big Ten titles in the 60m hurdles with Breeana Coleman and in the pole vault with Stephanie Richartz. This award marks the first time coach Buford-Bailey has been honored. The last time an Illini women's coach was named conference coach of the year was Gary Winckler in 1996, Buford-Bailey's collegiate coach.
Other indoor track and field awards announced by the Big Ten included Michigan State's Beth Rohl being named Field Athlete of the Year while Nebraska's Mara Griva picked up Field Athlete of the Championships.
The conference office also announced honorees from each team for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, with junior Samantha Murphy being selected from Illinois. The chosen student-athletes 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 sport-competition setting. These 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.
Track Athlete of the Year
Field Athlete of the Year
Freshman of the Year
Track Athlete of the Championships
Field Athlete of the Championships
Coach of the Year