ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference celebrated its 105th class of recipients who earned the esteemed Big Ten Medal of Honor earlier this year. Twenty-eight students from 15 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 9,800 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, more than 1,500 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 accountancy, accounting and supply chain management, animal science, biobehavioral health, business, communication, community health, economics, kinesiology, material science and engineering, multiplatform journalism, non-profit and entrepreneurial management, nutrition and health sciences, organizational leadership, pharmacy, planning and public policy, psychology, public health, real estate and urban analysis, rehabilitation psychology, sport communication, zoology and others.
The 2019 Big Ten Medal of Honor class of recipients boasts two Academic All-Americans in Minnesota’s Justin Karstadt (gymnastics) and Nebraska’s Anton Stephenson (gymnastics). The class also includes five 2018-19 Academic All-District honorees — Illinois’ Ali Bastianelli (volleyball), Nebraska’s Mikaela Foecke (volleyball) and Purdue’s David Blough (football) in addition to Karstadt and Stephenson.
Khari Willis (football) was named Michigan State’s Outstanding Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree in 2019. He was joined by Maryland’s Abigail Bentz (volleyball), Michigan State’s Jessica Ling (gymnastics), Northwestern’s Ryan Lumsden (golf), Ohio State’s Karrington Winters (outdoor track & field), Penn State’s Jason Nolf (wrestling) and Blough, who were named Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honorees in their respective sports during the academic year.
Stephenson, Rutgers’ Sarah Johnek (rowing) and Wisconsin’s Annie Pankowski (ice hockey) were recipients of Big Ten Postgraduate Scholarship.
Several students were national or Big Ten individual and/or team champions in 2018-19. Michigan’s Siobhan Haughey won five Big Ten women’s swimming championships; Ally McHugh became the first Penn State student to win an NCAA individual swimming championship in the 1650 freestyle and she also won four Big Ten championships; Nolf captured his third-consecutive NCAA championship in wrestling at 157 pounds as he helped the Nittany Lions to the NCAA title; Rutgers wrestler Anthony Ashnault won NCAA and Big Ten championships at 149 pounds, and Pankowki captained Wisconsin to the NCAA women’s ice hockey championship.
Numerous members of the 2019 Big Ten Medal of Honor Class also earned conference individual awards during the 2018-19 academic year. Jessica Parratto of Indiana was named 2019 Big Ten Diver of the Year; Megan Gustafson of Iowa earned 2019 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Player of the Year and was recognized as National Player of the Year by several outlets; Stephenson was the 2019 Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the Year, and Nolf was named the Big Ten Co-Wrestler of the Year.
2018-19 Big Ten Medal of Honor Class
Men: Nick Allegretti, Football
Women: Ali Bastianelli, Volleyball
Men: Juwan Morgan, Basketball
Women: Jessica Parratto, Swimming & Diving
Men: Matt Nelson, Football
Women: Megan Gustafson, Basketball
Men: Jahi Jones, Wrestling
Women: Abigail Bentz, Volleyball
Men: Robbie Mertz, Soccer
Women: Siobhan Haughey, Swimming & Diving
Men: Khari Willis Football
Women: Jessica Ling, Gymnastics
Men: Justin Karstadt, Gymnastics
Women: Temi Ogunrinde, Track & Field
Men: Anton Stephenson, Gymnastics
Women: Mikaela Foecke, Volleyball
Men: Ryan Lumsden, Golf
Women: Yvonne Chart, Fencing
Men: Mason Jobst, Ice Hockey
Women: Karrington Winters, Track & Field
Men: Jason Nolf, Wrestling
Women: Ally McHugh, Swimming & Diving
Men: David Blough, Football
Women: Taite Kitchel, Swimming & Diving
Men: Anthony Ashnault, Wrestling
Women: Sarah Johanek, Rowing
Men: D’Cota Dixon, Football
Women: Annie Pankowski, Ice Hockey