Anton Stephenson Snatches NU's First Conference Title Since 2002
Champaign, Ill. --- Anton Stephenson claimed the gold medal on vault at the 2017 Big Ten Championships Saturday night, becoming Nebraska's first Big Ten gold medalist and the program's first conference champion since Josh Rasile in 2002. The Fishers, Ind., native scored 14.975 to claim the title. The sophomore also placed fourth on parallel bars with 14.05 and tied for seventh on floor with 14.025.
Three other Huskers competed in the individual event finals, including Jordan King, Antonio Castro and Chris Stephenson. In the first rotation, King competed first for the Huskers and finished with 13.40 on pommel horse. Chris Stephenson followed with a still rings routine that earned him 13.425 and Anton Stephenson went next on floor (14.025). A few routines later, Antonio Castro scored 12.85 on pommel horse. King and Castro finished ninth and 10th, respectively, while Chris Stephenson finished in 10th place.
After a brief break, competition on the final three events began. Anton Stephenson competed first on parallel bars (14.05), before moving to vault where he notched his title-winning score (14.975). Chris Stephenson finished the night off for the Huskers on parallel bars, scoring 13.725 and earning sixth place.
Minnesota's Alex Wittenberg (14.55) claimed the floor title, while Illinois' Brandon Ngai earned first on pommel horse with 14.825. On rings, Alex Diab (Illinois) finished first with 14.875. Fellow Illini Johnny Jacobson took gold on parallel bars (14.55), while Jake Martin (Ohio State) placed first on high bar with 14.375.
The Big Ten Annual Awards were also announced Saturday night. Chris and Anton Stephenson earned First-Team All-Big Ten, while Connor Adamsick claimed the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. Mike Burns (Minnesota) won Big Ten Coach of the Year, while Jake Martin (Ohio State) and Justin Karstadt earned Big Ten Co-Gymnasts of the Year. Penn State's Sam Zakutney won Big Ten Freshman of the Year, while Ohio State's Sean Melton collected Big Ten Gymnast-of-the-Championships accolades.