ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference celebrated its 104th class of recipients who earned the esteemed Big Ten Medal of Honor earlier this year. Twenty-eight students from 17 different sports were honored with the prestigious award, which was established in 1915 and was the first award in intercollegiate athletics to demonstrate support for the educational emphasis placed on athletics.
The Big Ten Medal of Honor is awarded to one male and one female student from the graduating class of each member institution who has demonstrated excellence on and off the field throughout their college career.
Big Ten schools currently feature more than 9,500 students competing in intercollegiate athletics, but only 28 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis. In more than 100 years of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, better than 1,400 students have earned this distinction.
This year’s honorees claimed numerous national and conference academic and athletic accolades, along with winning NCAA and Big Ten team and individual championships. Every recipient claimed Academic All-Big Ten or All-Big Ten recognition at least once in their career, while pursuing diverse fields of study with a list of majors that includes accounting, biology, business and marketing, civil engineering, communication studies, economics, epidemiology, finance, human biology, kinesiology, mechanical engineering, philosophy, physical education, physiology and neurobiology, sociology, sport industry, supply chain management and others.
The 2018 Big Ten Medal of Honor class of recipients boasts eight Academic All-Americans including the Academic All-American of the Year for men’s at-large sports in Michigan swimmer PJ Ransford. He is joined by Michigan’s Erin Finn, Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner and Derek Wiebke, Penn State’s Haleigh Washington, and Purdue’s Marat Amaltdinov and Ashley Evans on the list of honorees.
Kristen Confroy (women’s basketball) and Alex Leto (men’s track & field) were named Maryland’s Outstanding Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honorees in 2018 and represented their school on the list of individual sportsmanship awards. They were joined by Minnesota’s Wagner (women’s basketball) and Northwestern’s Justin Jackson (football), who were named Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honorees in their respective sports during the academic year.
Both Confroy and Leto, along with Illinois’ Nicole Choquette, Michigan’s Finn and Ransford, and Rutgers’ Michael Rexrode, were recipients of Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarship.
Athletically, eight students were National or Big Ten individual and/or team champions in 2017-18. Indiana’s Tyra Buss helped the Hoosiers to the WNIT Championship in 2018. Michigan’s Finn claimed her 10th Big Ten Championship in cross country and track & field, winning the 10,000 meters in the spring. Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder won his third straight NCAA wrestling championship at 285 pounds in March in addition to a third Big Ten title weeks earlier. Kelsey Mitchell helped the Buckeyes to the conference’s women’s basketball championship and Big Ten tournament title. Zain Retherford helped Penn State wrestling to its third NCAA Championship in a row in 2018. Retherford also won his third consecutive NCAA individual title at 149 pounds. Washington helped Penn State to a share of the Big Ten Championship in volleyball. Amaltdinov repeated as the Big Ten men’s swimming champion in the 200-yard breaststroke. Wisconsin’s Georgia Ellenwood captured the NCAA and Big Ten titles in the heptathlon this past season.
2018 Big Ten Medal of Honor Class
Illinois Nicole Choquette, Women’s Cross Country/Track & FieldIsaiah Martinez, Wrestling
IndianaTyra Buss, Women’s BasketballLaren Eustace, Baseball
IowaKevin Docherty, Men’s Cross Country/Track & FieldZoe Douglas, Women’s Tennis
MarylandKristen Confroy, Women’s BasketballAlex Leto, Men’s Track & Field
MichiganErin Finn, Women’s Cross Country/Track & FieldPJ Ransford, Men’s Swimming & Diving
Michigan StateKatelyn Daniels, Women’s Track & FieldJimmy Fiscus, Men’s Soccer
MinnesotaCarlie Wagner, Women’s BasketballDerek Wiebke, Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field
NebraskaDanielle Breen, Women’s GymnasticsChris Stephenson, Men’s Gymnastics
NorthwesternJustin Jackson, FootballHannah Kim, Women’s Golf
Ohio StateKelsey Mitchell, Women’s BasketballKyle Snyder, Wrestling
Penn StateZain Retherford, WrestlingHaleigh Washington, Women’s Volleyball
PurdueMarat Amaltdinov, Men’s Swimming & DivingAshley Evans, Women’s Volleyball
RutgersCasey Murphy, Women’s SoccerMichael Rexrode, Men’s Lacrosse
WisconsinGeorgia Ellenwood, Women’s Track & FieldJosh McDonald, Men's Track & Field