Women's Cross Country, Track & Field
Illini Garner Multiple B1G Post Season Awards

Illinois head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey was named Big Ten Coach of the Year after winning first conference title since 1996.
Illinois head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey was named Big Ten Coach of the Year after winning first conference title since 1996.

Feb. 27, 2013

Big Ten Release

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
Ashley Spencer, Illinois

Field Athlete of the Year
Beth Rohl, Michigan State

Freshman of the Year
Morolake Akinosun, Illinois

Track Athlete of the Championships
Ashley Spencer, Illinois

Field Athlete of the Championships
Mara Griva, Nebraska

Coach of the Year
Tonja Buford-Bailey, Illinois

First Team
Morolake Akinosun, Illinois
Breeana Coleman, Illinois
Marissa Golliday, Illinois
Stephanie Richartz, Illinois
Ashley Spencer, Illinois
Asia Thomas, Illinois
Kyla Buckley, Indiana
Emma Kimoto, Indiana
Rebecca Addison, Michigan
Meg Bellino, Michigan
Amanda Eccleston, Michigan
Shannon Osika, Michigan
Jillian Smith, Michigan
Alysson Bodenbach, Michigan State
Beth Rohl, Michigan State
Jessica Furlan, Nebraska
Mara Griva, Nebraska
Vanessa McLeod, Purdue
Caitlin Comford, Wisconsin
Jessica Flax, Wisconsin

Second Team
Samantha Murphy, Illinois
Cindy Ofili, Michigan
Kiley Tobel, Michigan
Tori Franklin, MIchigan State
Lauren Lampman, Michigan State
Rachel McFarlane, Michigan State
Leah O'Connor, Michigan State
Jaelynn Pryor, Michigan State
Jellisa Westney, Michigan State
Laura Docherty, Minnesota
Todea-Kay Willis, Minnesota
Jillanna Scanlan, Nebraska
Shawnice Williams, Nebraska
Aisha Cavin, Ohio State
Mahagony Jones, Penn State
Marlene Ricketts, Penn State
Dani Bunch, Purdue