Jayson Ness and Heather Dorniden were honored with the Big Ten Medal of Honor, which is awarded to the top male and female student-athletes at each conference institution. The Medal of Honor is designed to reward proficiency in scholarship and athletics. The award is considered the top honor given to student-athletes in the Big Ten conference.
Ness finished an impressive wrestling career with a storybook senior season, finishing 31-0 and earning a national championship at the 133-pound weight class. Ness came back against No. 2 ranked Daniel Dennis of Iowa in the final round of the NCAA championships, earning a near fall in the closing seconds of the third round to win the national championship. Ness also received the Hodge Trophy – which has been dubbed the "Heisman of wrestling" – given to the top wrestler in the country, regardless of weight class. Ness also earned the Golden Gopher Academic Award for 2008-09 after being named to the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division I All-Academic Team two different times in his career.
Dorniden, who graduated in January and is currently running for Team USA Minnesota, finished her career in cross country and track and field as the most decorated women’s runner in Gopher history. Dorniden won the 2006 800-meter indoor title which represented the first time a Gophers female won a national title in track and field. Dorniden won the 2006 Big Ten Freshman of the Year for her efforts that year. Dorniden has been named to ESPN the Magazine’s Academic All-America Second Team, and she is eligible for the award again this year. She won the 2009 President’s Student Leadership and Service Award, the 2009 University of Minnesota Alumni Association Student Leadership Award and an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. She has been nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year award for Minnesota. She finished her work at the University with a 3.946 cumulative GPA.