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Rutgers' 50 Best: A First look at Olympic Sports

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Ever wonder who the fifty best Rutgers athletes are? Not just football or hoops....all athletes. Well, let's take a look.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, it was a tease.  We aren't doing it....completely.  Actually, this is a Steve Politi idea and we're teaming up with him -- don't tell him that - and letting you make some suggestions.

Politi's idea - and it is a really cool one - is to come up with a list of the fifty best athletes who played at Rutgers.  And only look at their collegiate careers. As Steve wrote:

Let's get this out of the way: We know that this is an impossible exercise. We are not only trying compare athletes from different sports but from entirely different eras, and given that Rutgers has competed in intercollegiate sports for a century and a half, there are thousands of athletes to consider. We are going to forget somebody (and, for that, we apologize in advance!).

We agree that it will be a challenging, maybe impossible task.  But this is your opportunity to offer your suggestions.  And for some of you, it will be possibly the first time you've even considered that Rutgers had any other sports besides football or basketball.

Politi also set down some ground rules for the list:

1. We're basing this on their careers in Piscataway. Carli Lloyd is the greatest women's soccer player on the planet right now, but she doesn't receive any extra credit for her World Cup heroics.

2. Team success is a factor. Did the athlete elevate a team to bigger heights during his or her time in the Rutgers uniform? Is he or she remembered as a true pioneer in that sport?

3. Having a spot in the Rutgers Hall of Fame is not a requirement, but if you're looking for candidates, it's a pretty good place to start.

Here's what we're going to do.  We'll have four posts, two on Olympic sports (anything other than football or basketball), one on football and one on basketball.  We've pulled together ideas for nominees, many of whom are in the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame.  Today, in part one, we look at men's and women's soccer, wrestling, lacrosse, and track & field.  Here's your first RU sports history lesson.

Athletes are in alphabetical order.  Chime in below in the comments; Steve will see them.

Soccer

Arthur "Art" Brinkmann - Men's Soccer
Brinkmann became the first ever Rutgers men's soccer All-American in 1954. A three-time All-East selection, Brinkmann scored 49 goals in his Scarlet Knight career. He also holds the Rutgers single game scoring record with six goals in one game and was team captain his junior and senior years. Brinkmann was an alternate member of the 1952 United States Olympic soccer team that competed in the Summer Games at Helsinki, Finland.  In 1995, he was chosen by the College Soccer Association of New Jersey for its Hall of Fame.

Lino DiCuollo - Men's Soccer
Recognized as one of the nation's premier forwards, Lino DiCuollo was a 1989 First Team All-America choice following a year in which he was also named Atlantic-10 East Division Player of the Year. DiCuollo scored 17 goals and added six assists his sophomore season in 1989 to lead Rutgers to its first-ever Final Four appearance and first ever 20-win season. In his four years, he led Rutgers to a 71-15-8 record, including three NCAA Tournament appearances and two Final Fours. He wrapped up his Rutgers career among the Scarlet Knights' all-time leaders in games played (92), points (122), goals (48), assists (26) and game-winner (15).  Following his career at Rutgers, DiCuollo played professionally in Germany and had his Rutgers jersey number retired.

Bobby Joe Esposito - Men's Soccer
Bobby Joe Esposito was one of the most prolific scorers ever to don a Scarlet Knight uniform, leading Rutgers in goals, points and game-winning goals in each of his four seasons. Esposito finished his career with 50 goals and 125 points, both of which put his name second on the school's all-time list. Esposito recorded 16 multiple-goal games and 17 game-winners during that time. His brilliant career began with a 17-1-2 overall record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 1983, the first berth for Rutgers in the national tournament in over 20 years. His career also ended on a positive note, as Esposito was a first team All-America selection in 1986 after scoring 15 goals and recording four assists. Following his standout career at Rutgers, he played professionally for 13 seasons at the time of his induction.

Alexi Lalas - Men's Soccer
Three-time All-American and 1991 National Player of the Year, Alexi Lalas has become one of the most recognizable American athletes in the world. In his four years as a Scarlet Knight, he led RU to three NCAA tournaments, including a National Semifinal in 1989 and National Championship game in 1990. In his four seasons, Rutgers compiled a record of 71-15-8. In 1989 and 1990, he was named Third-Team All-American and in 1991, he was recognized as the nation's finest college soccer player winning the Hermann Award and the Missouri Athletic Club Trophy. That year, he was also named First-Team All-American. He was also a four-time Mid-Atlantic Region choice as well as three-time Atlantic 10 selection.

Carli Lloyd - Women's Soccer She's really good now. But what about when she was "on the banks".  Single season records: Most points (37), Tied most goals (15), Second in game winning goals (6). Career records: Points (117), First in goals (50), Tied for second in game winners (15). She was a 2002 Herman Award candidate, NSCAA All American 3rd Team 2001 and 2003; SoccerBuzz All American Second Team 2001, 2002, 2004, Third Team 2003.  In her four year at RU, her teams went 43-33-9, with two NCAA appearances - her first two years.

Pedro Lopes - Men's Soccer
Lopes, a two-time All-American, played in four NCAA Tournaments, including two Final Fours during his storied collegiate career. He was named the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year in 1994 when Rutgers advanced to the Final Four for the third time in five seasons. He spearheaded a defense that allowed just 10 goals in 1990, 93 and 94. He scored the game-winning goal in the 1993 Atlantic 10 Championship game and started all 86 games in his collegiate career. Upon graduation, he played professionally with the NJ Imperials and served as an assistant coach at Rutgers for eight seasons before taking over as the head men's soccer coach at NJIT in 2003.

David Masur - Men's Soccer
Masur was the first Scarlet Knight men's soccer athlete to be named All-American back-to-back ans served as a three-time team captain from 1982-84. During those three years, he keyed the Scarlet Knights to a 35-14-6 combined record. The 17-1-2 mark in 1983 garnered Rutgers its first NCAA Tournament berth in 22 years. Masur won the Bob McNulty MVP Award in 1982 & 1983 and was a participant in the 1984 Senior Bowl. He graduated among Rutgers' all-time leaders in assists (14) assist leaders and points (30). His success as a Scarlet Knight player was rewarded with his jersey retirement in 1989. A second round selection by the Chicago Sting of the Major Indoor Soccer League , Masur followed his Rutgers career with 10 years in the professional ranks. He joined the coaching ranks serving as an assistant "On the Banks" for two years and led Montclair State to three NCAA postseason tournaments. Masur became the head coach at St. John's University in 1991 and was named the NCAA Division I Coach of the Year in leading the Red Storm to the 1996 NCAA national championship.

Herb Schmidt - Men's Soccer
Schmidt is the first two-time soccer All-American in Rutgers history. A stalwart scorer from 1960-1961, he also served as the team's captain in his senior year and was an All-Mid Atlantic choice.  He was also a two-time All-American midfielder in lacrosse. Considered the premiere scorer of his time, he tallied 81 career goals, 23 in his sophomore year, 27 as a junior and 31 as a senior. In 1960, Rutgers finished the regular season undefeated at 11-0 but lost a 3-2 overtime decision to Maryland in the NCAA playoffs.

Peter Vermes - Men's Soccer
A 1987 First Team All-American and runner-up for National Player of the Year, Vermes put together one of the finest careers in Rutgers sports history. He currently ranks seventh in all-time points (89), sixth in goals scored (35), ninth in assists (19) and second in game-winning goals (17). In 1987, he earned First Team All-America honors after scoring 21 goals, 15 assists for 52 points and leading Rutgers to the Region Finals of the NCAA Tournament. He went on to star for the U.S. National team as a member of the 1988 Olympic team and the 1990 World Cup team. He was also named 1988 U.S. Male Soccer Player of the Year. As a professional soccer player, Vermes was the first American to play in both Holland's and Hungary's First Division.

Saskia Webber - Women's Soccer
A 1992 First Team All-American and National Goalkeeper of the Year, Webber is the first women's soccer player to be chosen for the Hall of Fame. A finalist for the National Player of the Year honors in 1992, Webber still holds Rutgers records for career shutouts with 30 and saves with 413. She helped lead Rutgers to four consecutive ECAC Tournaments and three ECAC Championships (1990-92). She was a two-time All-Region choice as well as a finalist for National Goalkeeper of the Year in 1991. A Member of the U.S. National team in 1990 and 1992, Webber then went to play professionally in Japan.

Jeff Zaun - Men's Soccer
An All-American and National Player of the Year candidate during his time "On the Banks," Zaun starred at Rutgers from 1989-1993, leading the Scarlet Knights to a pair of Final Fours, including the NCAA Championship match in 1991. In that 1991 season, Zaun recorded four game-winning goals, guiding the Scarlet Knights to a 19-3-1 record. A three-time captain, Zaun earned a pair of NSCAA All-Region selections as both a back and a midfielder in the 1990 and 1991 seasons. He was a four-year letterwinner for the Scarlet Knights, starting 77 games during his career. In his rookie campaign, the former New Jersey High School Player of the Year was named the Atlantic-10 Freshman of the Year in 1989. He went on to earn several All-Atlantic 10 laurels the following years. Rutgers enjoyed a 76-15-4 record during his four seasons with the Scarlet Knights. Upon graduation, Zaun continued his soccer career at the professional level, playing a total of four seasons in the MLS as a member of the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and the Chicago Fire.  Zaun was the seventh men's soccer player to be inducted into the Rutgers Olympic Sports Hall of Fame.

Current athletes: Casey Murphy (NSCAA) Second Team All-American 2015 and selected as the goalkeeper on the 2014 Big Ten All-Freshmen Team

Wrestling

Anthony Michael Surage
Surage was the only two-time All-American in Rutgers wrestling history until this year.  He finished seventh at 142 pounds at the NCAA Tournament in 1983, including a victory over highly-regarded Nate Carr of Iowa State, and seventh at 150 pounds in 1980. His 111-18-1 career mark places him in fourth on the all-time victories chart, but first in winning percentage among wrestlers with 100 or more wins at .858.  The 1983 Coursen Award winner as the outstanding graduating male senior athlete, he was a three-year captain for the Scarlet Knights and two-time MVP. He was the Eastern Regional titlist at 150 as a sophomore in 1980 and as a junior in 1982.

Emil Perona
The only Rutgers wrestler to ever win three Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) titles, Perona placed fourth at the 1952 NCAA Championships at 157 pounds to earn All-America honors. Named to the EIWA Hall of Fame in 2002, Perona won the 165-pound crown in 1950 and the 157-pound title in 1951 and 1952.  A three-year letterwinner (1950-52), Perona served as the team captain in 1952.

Current athletes: Anthony Ashnault became the first two-time All American since Surage.  He also became the first Big Ten tournament champion for the Scarlet Knights.  In two seasons, he has compiled a 61-12 record, including this season's 32-4 tally.  Anthony Perrotti is a two-time All American, he was the first to reach the NCAA podium in a long time.  He has an 84-46 career record including a 25-7 record this past season.

Okay, any wrestler named Anthony makes the list.

Lacrosse

Keith Cromwell - Men's Lacrosse
Keith Cromwell played at Rutgers from 1998 to 2001, and is the leading scorer in school history, totaling 152 goals and 266 points. He also recorded 114 assists, which is third in program history. He totaled at least 65 points in three seasons, while scoring 42 and 44 goals in his sophomore and junior campaigns. All of those marks rank among the top-10 single season performances in Rutgers history. He was a three-time USILA Lacrosse All-American, capping his career with First Team All-American honors in 2001 after Second Team and Honorable Mention selections the previous two seasons. He was a two-time team captain and also earned the Coursen Award (Outstanding Male Athlete) from the Rutgers athletic department in 2001. After his collegiate career, Cromwell was the seventh overall selection in the inaugural Major League Lacrosse Draft. He was named MLL Rookie of the Year in 2001 and went on to play 12 seasons in the league.

Jack Daut - Men's Lacrosse
Jack Daut earned three letters from 1955-57. Daut was a two-time First Team All-America selection (1955, 1957), and received the Turnbull Trophy in 1957 as the nation's best attackman. Daut burst onto the scene in 1955 by scoring 41 goals en route to earning All-America honors (first team). He was an honorable mention All-America choice in 1956, before his outstanding senior campaign. Daut tallied 43 goals in 1957, which tied for the nation's lead, and represented Rutgers in the North/South All-Star game.  Currently, he is tied for fifth on the single-season goals list and ranks sixth on the Rutgers career goals list with 113. The Scarlet Knights posted a 24-5-1 record during his three-year career.

Edward Haugevik - Men's Lacrosse
Haugevik was a two-time First Team All-America honoree. He earned the back-to-back honors in 1972 and 1973. He was a 1973 team captain and William Miller Trophy recipient, awarded to the team's most outstanding player. He led Rutgers to a 30-17 record in his four years. Following the 1973 season, Haugevik was selected as one of the top college athletes in America and was also honored by the university for his outstanding achievement. Haugevik also participated in the North/South All-Star game and was the North Team captain and the Defensive MVP for the squad as well. In 1974, he was a member of the USA Team World Champions that competed in Melbourne, Australia.

Reid Jackson - Men's Lacrosse
Jackson, one of the best lacrosse players in Rutgers history, lettered for the Scarlet Knights from 1991 through 1994. He was a three-time All-American at Rutgers, earning honorable mention honors in 1992, second team honors in 1993 and first team accolades in 1994. Jackson was a two-time captain (1993, 94) at Rutgers and was the team MVP (William Miller Trophy recipient) in 1994. Jackson was also RU's Coursen Award winner in 1994. As one of the nation's top defensive players, Jackson received the William C. Schmisser award from the USILA, honoring the nation's best defenseman at the Division I. He also played in the North/South All-Star game following his senior season and later won a gold medal with the United States National Team in 1998.

Robert "Bob" E. Kelley - Men's Lacrosse, Football
Kelley was a three-time All-American in lacrosse, earning first-team honors in 1955 and 1956 as a midfielder. He is still ranked in the top 10 in career goals with 100 and tallied 39 goals in both 1954 and 1956. His best single-game effort was an eight-goal outburst against Syracuse in 1955. He captained the lacrosse and football teams in his senior seasons. He was selected for the North/South All-Star game in 1956, captaining the North squad. The United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association elected him to its Hall of Fame in 1985.

George Latimer - Men's Lacrosse
Latimer was the first and only three-time first-team All-American for Rutgers lacrosse. He and Joseph "Frenchy" Julien dominated the collegiate attack position from 1930-32. In that time, Rutgers compiled a 20-7-1 mark. In fact, the 1932 team was selected to participate in the Olympic Trials. Latimer was elected into the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Hall of Fame, the sport's highest honor, in 1972 with Julien preceding him in 1965. Latimer was the first recipient of the Coursen Award for the outstanding male graduating student-athlete. He was also a letterwinner in football from 1929-31.

Bob Naso - Men's Lacrosse
Naso won three varsity letters in lacrosse (1957, 58, 59) and football (1956, 57, 58) and was a three-time lacrosse All-American during his career at Rutgers. A co-captain in 1959, he won the Miller Award in 1958 and 1959 and served as co-captain of the North team in the 1959 North/South Senior All-Star game. In addition, Naso served as the head lacrosse coach at Rutgers from 1962-74, posting a 95-60-1 mark, while leading the 1972 and 1974 squads to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.  He was inducted into the New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1999.

Tom Sweeney - Men's Lacrosse
Sweeney was a four-time honorable mention All-American in lacrosse at Rutgers, graduating in 1980 as the second-leading scorer in the history of the program with 191 points and the top-goal scorer with 141. Currently, he ranks sixth all-time in points and third in career goals. Sweeney also owns the single-season record with 50 goals, registered in 1978. A two-time team captain, Sweeney enjoyed his most productive day during the 1978 season, scoring 10 goals and three assists in a 24-7 win over CW Post on April 18. The goals are tied for the best single-game effort in school history, while the points rank second. Sweeney capped his collegiate career by participating in the 1980 North/South All-Star game.

John M. Valestra - Men's Lacrosse
Valestra was a three-time All-American in men's lacrosse. In 1996, he became the 10th Rutgers player or coach to gain entry into the prestigious USILA Hall of Fame. He currently ranks tied for sixth on the single-season points list with 70 in 1964, which was done in just an 11-game season. That same year, he dished off 39 assists, an average of 3.5 per game, which is tied for mark in Rutgers history. Valestra is also ninth in all-time assists with 86. He was also responsible for the game-winning goal in a thrilling 11-10 victory over Johns Hopkins on May 2, 1964. Following his senior year, Valestra was selected to play in the prestigious North/South All-Star game and went on to play in club lacrosse in California for 18 years.

Current athletes: Scott Bieda and Jules Heningburg

Track & Field

Lori McCauley - Women's Track & Field
McCauley was a seven-time All-American in middle distance races and won the AIAW indoor 440 in 1982. McCauley's other top achievements were a second-place finish at the 1983 indoor NCAA championships in the 600 and a fourth-place in the 1983 NCAA outdoor championships in the 400 meter intermediate hurdles. McCauley also held the American record in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles. She was a seven-time Eastern champion and also a 14-time qualifier for either the NCAA or AIAW championships. McCauley was an alternate for the 1984 Olympic team in the 400 IM hurdles, which she missed by .02 seconds.

Boris Pendergrass - Men's Track & Field
Pendergrass was one of the dominant hurdlers in the East during his career. Pendergrass was a three-time NCAA qualifier and semifinalist. He captured three IC4A championships in the 110 meter hurdles, and also captured one IC4A championship in the 55 meter hurdles. At the Metropolitan Championships in 1985, Pendergrass took first place in the 55 hurdles with a record-setting time of 7.0 seconds. In addition, Pendergrass was a key member of the school's hurdle relay team that set indoor and outdoor school records. The indoor mark, at the time, was the fifth fastest time in history, while the outdoor mark was the third fastest time in the world that year. While still at Rutgers, Pendergrass was invited to the 1984 Olympic Trials and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 110 hurdles with a personal best of 13.7 seconds. He also captured the 1982 USA Junior National Championship in the 110 hurdles and finished fourth at the Junior Pan American Games that same year. Pendergrass was also a standout wide receiver for the Rutgers football team, hauling in 53 passes in his career, including a combined 47 receptions as a starter during his junior and senior seasons.

Balazs Koranyi - Men's Track & Field
Koranyi was a track and field standout at Rutgers from 1993 through 1997. He was a four-time All-American and three-time BIG EAST Champion in the 800 meters, while also winning five Metropolitan Championships. He set the school record in both the indoor (1:47.93) and outdoor (1:46.53) 800m run. Koranyi was a First Team Academic All-American in 1996 and earned the 1997 Leslie Coursen Award as Rutgers' outstanding senior male athlete. Beyond his collegiate competition, Koranyi competed at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics for his native Hungary, reaching the semifinals of the 800m run each year. He was a national record holder in Hungary as well with a time of 1:45.39. His induction came in his first year of eligibility.

Allan Elliot Quow - Men's Track & Field
Elliot Quow was a three-time All-American and held the American record in the 300-meters. In 1983, he was the NCAA Champion in the 200 meters and the Athlete of the Year by Eastern Track. At the World Championships in 1983, he was a silver medalist. Quow finished fourth at the 1983 TAC Championships and was a double gold medalist at the 1983 Pan Am Games. He was an Olympic Trials qualifier, who was at one time ranked fourth in the World in 1983. In 1984, he placed fifth in the Olympic Trial. The three-time IC4A Champion holds four Rutgers indoor records (one relay) and three Rutgers outdoor records (one relay).

Debbie Deutsch - Women's Track & Field
Debbie Deutsch was a three-time All-American for the Lady Knights track team. In 1978 and 1979, she was the AIAW National Indoor Champion in the 60-yard hurdles. Deutsch was also an 11-time national championship (AIAW/NCAA) qualifier. The three-time Eastern Champion held four Rutgers indoor records and two Rutgers outdoor records. In 1981, she was the Most Valuable Player of the track team as well as the team's scholar-athlete. The four-year letterwinner was a finalist in the 100-meter hurdles at the 1980 United States Olympic Trails.

Eugene Norman - Men's Track & Field
Norman is Rutgers' only four-time All-American in track and field. He was an Olympic Trails qualifier in 1984. His specialties were the 55-meter and 100-meter hurdles. Norman placed third at the 1984 NCAAs in the 55-meter hurdles and was fourth at the Atlantic Congress national indoor meet that year. A two-time IC4A champion in the 55-meter hurdles, he was twice ranked in the top 10 in the United States. His career best time of 7.10 was, at the time ranked sixth in the world, was run at the TAC meet at Madison Square Garden. His personal best in the 110-meter hurdles was 13.62. Still the holder of the Rutgers records in the 55-meters indoors and the 110-meter hurdles outdoor, he won three Metropolitan titles in the 110-meter hurdles.

Mike Roche - Men's Track & Field
Roche earned international acclaim in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. A member of the 1976 U.S. Olympic team in Montreal, he also earned All-American honors in his specialty in 1975 with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Roche was also the IC4A 3,000 meter steeplechase titlist in meet record time of 8:41.0 in 1975. His personal best time was 8:40.0 (all-time best 8:30) The holder of several school marks, Roche was the first Scarlet track and field team member to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. He was ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. with third being his highest position.

Chris Sagnella - Men's Track & Field
A three-time NCAA First Team All-American in the javelin, Sagnella set a school-record throw in the javelin of 244-10. An Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A), Penn Relays and BIG EAST Champion, Sagnella established a one-time meet record at the BIG EAST Championships in the javelin. He was a two-time Metropolitan Conference Champion. Sagnella also competed at the 1996 United States Olympic Trials where he secured an eighth-place finish. Sagnella was the United States' ninth-ranked thrower in 1996 by Track and Field News, which included both collegiate and professional javelin throwers.

Sam Segond - Men's Track & Field
Sam Segond was a three-time NCAA First Team All-American in the discus and took home six BIG EAST championships for the Rutgers men's track and field team during his Scarlet Knight career. He led RU to its first ever BIG EAST Outdoor Championship and IC4A Indoor and Outdoor Team Championships in 2005. Segond brought home eight All-BIG EAST honors, including winning four BIG EAST discus titles and earning conference titles in the shot put and weight throw. He also earned All-East recognition eight times as a three-time IC4A discus champion and IC4A shot put title holder. During his career, Segond set the school record in the shot put (61' 8.25") along with RU, BIG EAST and IC4A records in the discus (199' 8.5'').

Tom F. Ulan - Men's Track & Field
Ulan was the first Rutgers track and field athlete to reach international stature. He was a three-time All-American and was a nationally-recognized middle distance runner. He won the Coursen Award in 1971 as Rutgers' outstanding graduating male athlete. The 1971 NCAA Indoor Championships winner at 400 yards, Ulan was the World University Games titlist in 1970. An IC4A Champion at 600 yards in 1971, he was a 1972 Olympic Trials finalist in the 400 meters. Still the Rutgers record-holder in the indoor 600 yards (1:08.5) at the IC4As and the 400 meters outdoors (:45.7) at the World University Games in Turin, Italy, Ulan also shares the school mark in the outdoor 4x200 meter relay (1:25.3).

Julie Smithers - Women's Track & Field
Smithers was a three-time All-American in women's track. She twice placed in the top three at the AIAW Nationals, finishing second in the 60-yard hurdles in 1978 and third in the same event in 1979. In 1980, she placed sixth in the 60-yard hurdles in the Indoor Nationals. A four-year letterwinner and two-time Eastern Champion, Smithers was a seven-time national qualifier (both AIAW and NCAA) and a member of the 1982 Olympic Sports Festival East team.

Robert Amabile - Men's Track & Field
Amabile was considered to be one of America's top javelin throwers in his time at Rutgers. In 1987, he finished fourth at the NCAA Championships, earning All-America status. That effort capped a year in which he was ranked as the top javelin thrower in college. Also in 1987, he won the javelin event at the IC4A Championships and the Penn Relays Carnival. He was a four-time Metropolitan Champion as well as a three-time All-East performer. Amabile also won the 1984 Pan American Junior Championships. Amabile held the school record in the javelin for nearly a decade. Amabile's best throws were 246'11" (old javelin) and 238'7" (new javelin).

Current athletes Corey Crawford and Gabrielle Farquharson are Big Ten champions and All Americans.

Next up (I'd check back around noon): Basketball