TSC Midseason NCAA Awards: Big Ten (With Even More Awards!)

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 7

December 29th, 2011 College

It’s the halfway point of the 2011-2012 NCAA season, and in addition to our updates to our men’s and women’s power rankings, it’s time to give out some first-semester awards.

And I’ll cut-off our supremely-intelligent readers before you leave comments – we realize that programs like Florida and Cal are more than happy to give up mid-season awards in favor of end-of-season success. Look at these more as a fun and interesting topic for debate through the first four months of a season, rather than a comment on end-of-season success (with the exception of favorite for Conference Championships).

Without further ado, we’ll start with the Big Ten:

Men’s Swimmer of the Semester – Kyle Whitaker, Michigan – There’s no clear front-runner for this award in the Big Ten, but Whitaker gets the nod because his IM times of 1:44.63/3:45.17 have been dominant in the conference, heads above his competition.
Honorable Mention: Cody Miller, Indiana; Andrew Elliott, Ohio State; Miguel Ortiz, Michigan

Women’s Swimmer of the Semester – Margaux Farrell, Indiana – Farrell has quietly snuck to the conference’s top times in the 100, 200, and 500 freestyles, with her 4:38.79 being the most impressive as the leader of a deep Indiana distance group. She’ll have a slight conflict in the spring with the French Olympic Trials, and may be forced to leave NCAA’s a day early to fly across the pond.
Honorable Mention: Allysa Vavra, Indiana; Ashley Wanland, Wisconsin

Men’s Coach of the Semester – Bill Wadley, Ohio State – The Buckeyes have been strong this year despite the graduation of a National Teamer in Keefer and another one redshirting in Phillips. Big freshman class, but they’re stepping up, and new leaders like Jason Schnur are emerging.
Honorable Mentions: Marc Long, Iowa; Ray Looze, Indiana; Mike Bottom, Michigan

Women’s Coach of the Semester – John Klinge, Purdue – The Boilermakers are crushing the school’s record books this season. Through the first semester, they’ve had 15 swims that rank in the school’s all-time top 5, including three school records (and 5 freshman records from Rhiannon Sheets). If their divers weren’t all redshirting to prepare for the Olympics, this is a top-20 team at NCAA’s.
Honorable Mentions: Jim Richardson, Michigan; Whitney Hite, Wisconsin

Men’s Conference Favorite – Michigan – the Wolverines got nothing but older since last year, where they leaned heavily on freshman to win the conference title. The Buckeyes are good, as are the Hoosiers, but Michigan is still too deep all-around to lose Big Tens.

Women’s Conference Favorite – Indiana – When you look through the conference top-10 lists, yes there are other teams with some good swimmers, but Indiana still is at the top of the heap in more events than anyone else – and that’s with absence of their best butterflier and with only only a seemingly-moderate mid-season rest.

Men’s Co-Freshmen of the Semester – Keanu Stevenson, Ohio State; Richard Funk, Michigan – Both are freshmen filling in breaststroke positions that their teams needed desparately. I don’t usually award co-honors, but in this case, the times are so similar, that it’s hard to pick one over the other. It’s going to be fun to watch the Big Ten breaststrokers duke it out over the next few years – The top 10 200 breaststrokers in the conference are comprised of 4 freshman and 3 sophomores.
Honorable Mention: Steven Zimmerman, Ohio State; Steve Schmuhl, Indiana; Bruno Ortiz, Michigan

Women’s Freshman of the Semester – Justine Ress, Indiana – The youngest in the Ress clan is following in the footsteps of her Dad and older brother, both of whom are also Hoosiers, as a phenomenal swimmer, and like her brother is a backstroker. She actually leads the Big Ten this year in the 200 back, and has put up a pretty decent 100 fly (54.76) to go along with it.
Honorable Mention: Rhiannon Sheets, Purdue; Becky Stoughton, Iowa; Kiera Janzen, Minnesota

Men’s Breakout Swimmer of the Semester (no freshmen) – Ryan Bubb, Ohio State – As we alluded to above, Ohio State has had a ton of swimmers step up with big swims, but none perhaps more surprising than Ryan Bubb. When he came to Columbus from Nebraska, he was a pure sprinter (freestyle, butterfly). Nothing was further from his mind than a 200 fly – he doesn’t have a result from the race either from his junior or senior season. This year, however, he sits second in the conference in the race behind only the great Dan Madwed with a 1:44.86. That’s an awesome job by Wadley to recognize an untapped reservoir of talent.
Honorable Mention: James Wells, Indiana; Bryan Williams, Michigan State; Connor Jaeger, Michigan

Women’s Breakout Swimmer of the Semester (no freshmen) – Caitlin Dauw, Michigan – Dauw was an NCAA B-finalist in the 100 fly last year, but this season she’s blown away even what she did last year. She ranks 6th in the country in the 100 fly (52.5) and has added a phenomenal 1:57.4 in the 200 fly to it. But mostly, she’s stepped up and become a leader of the Michigan women’s squad that badly needed one.
Honorable Mention: Emily Fogle, Purdue; Emily Creran, Ohio State; Ashley Cohagen, Michigan

Prepping for a Big Second Half – Jenny Wilson, Northwestern – With Winter Nationals being in long course this year (and in the pre-Olympic year in general), it’s easy to overlook some great swims because their teams used a long course meet for their winter rest meet. Wilson swam a 1:10.13 in Atlanta in long course, which converts to something around a 1:01.0 in yards.
Honorable Mention: Shannon Draves, Ohio State; Brenna McLean, Indiana

Prepping for a Big Second Half – Jacob Jarzen, Michigan State – Jarzen is a bright spot for the bottom-of-the-conference Spartans. He’s looked strong in the first half of 2011, and if he saves his major taper this year for NCAA’s, he shoudl score in three events (100 back, 200 back, and 100 fly), with a 100 back A-final possible.

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How about a “who’s that guy” award for my OSU/HLA boy Ryan Bubb and his 5th ranked 200 fly? Recruited for his sprint free, btw…

nostradamus

Great article. I’d say Miguel Ortiz has to be in the running for Men’s swimmer OTY too, top time in the 100 free, and top time in the 100 backstroke by quite a bit too. Don’t let Ohio State fool you into thinking they’re a young team, they do have 16 upperclassmen! Their Freshman are doing well though, and warrant recognition.

I think another thing you could do, for this article, is maybe a comeback swimmer oty, and also a breakout swimmer too!

Donald Duck to water

Brandon, I agree with almost everything on your list. The Jim Richardson as runner up for coach of the semester however has me scratching my head. I think the world of Jim and is one of the true gentlemen of the sport, but I think the only word to put on the season so far is disappointing. I know that Ray Looze is a love him or hate him type of coach, but after the class that graduated last year on the ladies side, he has really filled in those holes and he has to be given credit for a lot of that.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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