Gophers swimmer honored by Big Ten

by Michael Rand

Matt Schlessman, a senior swimmer from Avon, Ohio, on Thursday received Minnesota’s Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor.
Each Big Ten school presents this award annually to a student-athlete who excels in both scholarship and athletics.
Schlessman, a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, was a tri-captain of the 1996-97 swimming and diving team, which placed 12th at the NCAA Championships. At the championships, he swam on five relay teams that all placed 12th or higher.
Schlessman was a member of six Big Ten championship relay teams in his career, including three in 1996 when the Gophers won their first conference team championship since 1926.
The mechanical engineering major has a cumulative grade-point average of 3.76 and has been named to the dean’s list five times.
Wrestling schedule announced
The Gophers wrestling team’s schedule, announced Friday, will feature five home dual meets against teams that were ranked among the top 15 in the nation last year.
Minnesota finished third at NCAAs and will host defending national champion Iowa on Jan. 23 and NCAA runner-up Oklahoma State on Jan. 30.
The Gophers return their entire starting lineup from last year, including All-Americans Pat Connors (126), Jason Davids (142), Chad Kraft (150), Tim Hartung (190) and Shelton Benjamin (Hwt).
MSC finalists announced
Midwest Sports Channel has selected three male athletes and three female athletes as finalists for the MSC Sports Salute Gala Award. The award will be presented Thursday at the St. Paul Radisson Hotel, with a live broadcast of the event beginning at 8 p.m. on MSC.
The award recognizes amateur and professional athletes who have made a significant contribution to their teams and communities.
Five of the six finalists are Gophers athletes:
ù Cory Sauter, a senior from Hutchinson, Minn., has been the starting quarterback for the Gophers football team the past two seasons. He was a captain last season and finished first in the Big Ten in total offense with an average of 224.1 yards per game.
Sauter, a kinesiology major, is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and has a 3.31 GPA.
ù Trevor Winter, a Slayton, Minn., native, was a captain on the Gophers Final Four basketball team last season. He averaged 3.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game and finished his career 11th on the Gophers’ all-time blocks list with 50.
Winter was also a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and graduated from the Carlson School of Management.
ù Kristen Vandersall, a Plymouth, Minn., native, led the Gophers women’s gymnastics team to a 10th-place finish at the NCAA meet. She set a school record with a 9.95 score in the floor exercise this year.
Vandersall, a marketing major, is also an Academic All-Big Ten selection and has a 3.39 GPA.
ù Jennifer McElmury, a senior from White Bear Lake, Minn., is a team captain and three-year starter on the Gophers soccer team. After just three seasons, McElmury is second all-time in the Big Ten for points (93), goals (37) and game-winning goals (10).
McElmury is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and has a 3.25 GPA in nursing.
ù Katrien DeDecker, a native of Bredene, Belgium, this season became the first-ever first-team All-America selection in Gophers volleyball history. She finished her career with 2,300 kills, the most in Big Ten history.
DeDecker, a kinesiology major, was named to the Academic All-Big Ten team this year.
The other men’s finalist is St. Cloud State hockey player Matt Cullen. All funds generated from this year’s event will be presented to the Leukemia Society of America.
Teams name captains
Gophers men’s track and field coach Phil Lundin announced Monday that seniors Tye Harvey, Rick Obleman and Chad Yenchesky will serve as captains of the Gophers track and field team next season. Also, coach Steve Plasencia announced that senior Tony Riter will serve as captain of the cross country team.
Harvey, a native of Jamestown, Calif., was named an All-American this year after placing second in the pole vault at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Obleman (Regina, Saskatchewan) placed second in the steeplechase at the Big Ten Outdoor championships this year.
Yenchesky, a native of DePere, Wis., placed second in the shot put at Big Tens.
Riter, a two-time letter winner from Shoreview, placed 37th at the NCAA District IV Championships last season.
Golf field announced
The Gophers men’s golf team will host a competitive 12-team field in the third annual ReliaStar College Golf Championship on Sept. 14-15 in Dellwood, Minn.
The Gophers will attempt to defend their 1996 tournament title against a field that includes last year’s NCAA runner-up Wake Forest. Every team in the field qualified for last year’s national tournament.