Nebraska track and field seniors Tyler Hitchler and Ashley Miller were honored by the Big Ten Conference on Thursday as 2012 Medal of Honor winners. One of the most prestigious conference awards in college athletics, the Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had "attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work."
Hitchler and Miller were chosen as two of 24 student-athletes conference-wide recognized for the award. This year's list of distinguished student-athletes includes U.S. National Team members, NCAA Champions, Lowe's Senior CLASS Award winners, NCAA Elite 88 honorees and several All-Americans. Every one of this year's Medal of Honor recipients was named Academic All-Big Ten in 2011-12, and 19 received all-conference recognition.
Miller is one of seven 2012 Medal of Honor winners who were also honored with Big Ten Sportsmanship awards. She is a senior captain distance runner from Tipton, Iowa, and a two-time All-American and four-time conference champion. She has captured three Big Ten titles in her senior season, making her a four-time conference champion. Miller will complete her Husker career at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines this week. She led the Husker women to a second-place conference finish at the outdoor championships, while helping the Huskers earn their first Big Ten Conference Championship at the 2012 Big Ten Indoor Championships, where she also won the women's 3,000 meters. In addition to her accomplishments on the track, Miller has excelled in the classroom. She was a 2011 second-team CoSIDA Academic All-American as well as being named a first-team CoSIDA Academic All-District VII honoree in 2010 and 2011 and a second-team CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree in 2012. She carries a 3.84 GPA in Nutrition and Health Sciences and is a five-time academic all-conference selection. Miller was selected as the 2011-12 University of Nebraska Female Student-Athlete of the Year and has been a three-time USTFCCCA All-Academic honoree.
Hitchler is a two-time captain and senior thrower for the Nebraska track and field team from Fremont, Neb. Hitchler is a three-time All-American and has ranked in the top 10 nationally in the discus during his senior season, most recently finishing sixth in the event at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. He finished seventh in the discus at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships and recorded an 11th-place finish in 2010. Hitchler was a third-team CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2011 and a first-team CoSIDA Academic All-District VII honoree as a Nutrition and Health Science major with a 3.71 GPA. He is a four-time academic all-conference award winner and a three-time member of the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team. He is also a four-year member of the Nebraska Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the Russ White Spirit Award Recipient for Outstanding Leadership and an officer for the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society. He was honored as the 2011-12 University of Nebraska Male Student-Athlete of the Year and is a two-time HERO Leadership Award recipient.
The Big Ten Medal of Honor was the first award in intercollegiate athletics to demonstrate support for the educational emphasis placed on athletics. It was acclaimed throughout the nation, and in particular by the NCAA "as one of the significant gestures yet made in college sports." The Big Ten Medal of Honor was expanded in 1982 to include one female student-athlete from each institution. In 2014, the conference will celebrate the 100th anniversary of this prestigious award.
Big Ten Medal of Honor Recipients
Jenna Carosio, Women's Soccer
Luke Guthrie, Men's Golf
Margaux Farrell, Women's Swimming
Matt Roth, Men's Basketball
McKenzie Melander, Women's Track & Field/Cross Country
Erik Sowinski, Men's Track & Field
Amanda Chidester, Softball
Dan Madwed, Men's Swimming
Kirk Cousins, Football
Jenilee Rathje, Volleyball
David Pachuta, Men's Track & Field
Anne Schleper, Women's Ice Hockey
Tyler Hitchler, Men's Track & Field
Ashley Miller, Women's Track & Field
Chelsea Armstrong, Field Hockey
Francis Brooke, Baseball
Bianca Alvarez, Women's Diving
Andrew Elliott, Men's Swimming
Miguel Pineda, Men's Gymnastics
Erin Thomas, Women's Swimming
Robbie Hummel, Men's Basketball
Brittany Rayburn, Women's Basketball
Peter Konz, Football
Laurie Nosbusch, Women's Soccer