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    Spencer Honored for Outstanding Performances at Big Ten's
    Freshman Ashley Spencer was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships and Freshman of the Year after winning three Big Ten titles.

    Freshman Ashley Spencer was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships and Freshman of the Year after winning three Big Ten titles.

    May 15, 2012

    B1G Outdoor HonorsGet Acrobat Reader

    PARK RIDGE, Ill. - Coming off an extremely successful weekend at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, freshman Ashley Spencer was named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships and Freshman of the Year, announced Tuesday by the conference office. Spencer, who also earned first-team All-Big Ten honors, won three Big Ten titles last weekend at the conference meet while four other Illinois women's track and field athletes garnered first team All-Big Ten selections. Three other Orange and Blue earned second team All-Big Ten honors. Spencer (200m, 400m), along with seniors Latoya Griffith, Ashley Kelly and Ryisha Boyd (4x400m relay), as well as Griffith (400m hurdles) and sophomore Stephanie Richartz (pole vault) took home conference crowns while sophomore's Breeana Coleman (100m hurdles) and Jesica Ejesieme (100m hurdles) along with the 4x100m relay squad of Ejesieme, Kelly, junior Kayla Smith and Spencer earned runner-up finishes at Wisconsin's McClimon Track, helping the Illini tie for second-place, the highest finish since the 2007 season.

    "These honors for Ashley (Spencer) are well deserving," head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey said. "She was definitely the shining star of the meet. I think everyone there enjoyed watching her run. As a freshman to break all the records she did, it's well deserved."

    Spencer is the first Illini to win the title of Big Ten Outdoor Athlete of the Championships since Cassie Hunt earned it in 2005 while she's the first Illini runner to earn Outdoor Freshman of the Year honors in 11 years, as Susanna Kallur last earned the title in 2001. She becomes the sixth overall Orange and Blue athlete to win the Big Ten Outdoor Athlete of the Championships award and seventh to earn Freshman of the Year accolades.

    The freshman won the Big Ten 400m crown, edging Iowa's Ashley Liverpool and breaking the school record in the event with a time of 51.02, smashing the 22-year old record set by Celena Mondie-Miller in 1989. Spencer then won the 200m, where her time of 22.99, ranks third-fastest in school history. Her conference titles in the 200m and 400m marked the first time an Illini had won both events since head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey accomplished the feat in 1993. Spencer also was part of the winning 4x400m relay team which holds the second-fastest time in the school record books and is the second woman to ever win the 200m, 400m, and 4x400m triple at a conference meet in Illinois outdoor history since Buford-Bailey last earned the feat.

    Other outdoor track and field awards announced by the Big Ten included Ohio State's Christina Manning being named Track Athlete of the Year. Ohio State's Alexis Thomas picked up Field Athlete of the Year and of the Championships. Ohio State's head coach Karen Dennis was named Coach of the Year after guiding the Buckeyes to its second consecutive outdoor title.

    The conference office also announced honorees from each team for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, with senior Ashley Kelly being selected from Illinois. The chosen 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 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.

    2012 Big Ten Women's Outdoor Individual Honors

    Track Athlete of the Year
    Christina Manning, Ohio State

    Field Athlete of the Year
    Alexis Thomas, Ohio State

    Freshman of the Year
    Ashley Spencer, Illinois

    Track Athlete of the Championships
    Ashley Spencer, Illinois

    Field Athlete of the Championships
    Alexis Thomas, Ohio State

    Coach of the Year
    Karen Dennis, Ohio State

    First Team
    Ryisha Boyd, Illinois
    Latoya Griffith, Illinois
    Ashley Kelly, Illinois
    Stephanie Richartz, Illinois
    Ashley Spencer, Illinois
    McKenzie Melander, Iowa
    Erin Pendleton, Michigan
    Leah O'Connor, Michigan State
    Marusa Cernjul, Nebraska
    Ashley Miller, Nebraska
    Anna Weigandt, Nebraska
    Aisha Cavin, Ohio State
    Christienne Linton, Ohio State
    Christina Manning, Ohio State
    Chesna Sykes, Ohio State
    Alexis Thomas, Ohio State
    Laura Loht, Penn State
    Kara Millhouse, Penn State
    Dani Bunch, Purdue
    Leah Eber, Purdue
    Jessica Flax, Wisconsin

    Second Team
    Breeana Coleman, Illinois
    Jesica Ejesieme, Illinois
    Kayla Smith, Illinois
    Jordan Gray, Indiana
    Monique Riddick, Indiana
    Betsy Flood, Iowa
    Ashley Liverpool, Iowa
    Alexandra Leptich, Michigan
    Emily Pendleton, Michigan
    Jillian Smith, Michigan
    Kiley Tobel, Michigan
    Rebecca Buchholtz, Michigan State
    Todea-Kay Willis, Minnesota
    Mara Griva, Nebraska
    Madison McNary, Ohio State
    Doris Anyanwu, Penn State
    Ijeoma Iheoma, Penn State
    Lauren Kenney, Penn State
    Melissa Kurzdorfer, Penn State
    Dynasty McGee, Penn State
    Kirsten Nieuwendam, Penn State
    Dorcas Akinniyi, Wisconsin

    Sportsmanship Award Honorees
    Ashley Kelly, Illinois
    Emma Kimoto, Indiana
    Betsy Flood, Iowa
    Emily Pendleton, Michigan
    Rebekah Smeltzer, Michigan State
    Chimerem Okoroji, Minnesota
    Breanna Bussel, Nebraska
    Maggie Mullen, Ohio State
    Doris Anyanwu, Penn State
    Leah Eber, Purdue
    Megan Beers, Wisconsin

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