Plasencia, Torchia win Big 10 awards

Men’s track and field head coach Steve Plasencia has won Big Ten Coach of the Year five-straight times.

Derek Wetmore

In the wake of his teamâÄôs fifth-straight Big Ten title, menâÄôs track head coach Steve Plasencia has earned his fifth-straight Big Ten Coach of the Year award.

Big Ten coaches vote on the award, and the indoor season accolade will go on the trophy shelf next to his indoor and outdoor awards from 2009 and 2010.

Since taking over in the summer of 2008 after running the cross country program for 12 years, Plasencia has earned every Coach of the Year honor for the conference.

âÄúThis is truly an award that goes to the entire staff,âÄù Plasencia said in a statement released by the team. âÄúAs a staff, we get to coach a great group of young men on our team. We are excited about the continued tradition of success of our Gopher menâÄôs track program.âÄù

Speaking on the phone last weekend, Plasencia attributed the teamâÄôs across-the-board contributions and depth in the Big Ten championships to his assistants, who work regularly with particular athletes.

Minnesota senior Mike Torchia was also recognized following the championships. He received the Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award, which is awarded each year to one male and one female athlete from the Big Ten who will pursue a postgraduate degree.

Each Big Ten school nominates one male and one female each year, with one winner selected from each category.

ItâÄôs named after former Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke, who stressed academics and graduation rates in his term from 1971-89.

Torchia graduated in May with a degree in biochemistry and is currently pursuing two other degrees. He was also the University of MinnesotaâÄôs nominee for Rhodes Scholar.

He said he plans to attend medical school and at one point was working to decide between Minnesota, Stanford, Washington, Duke, Georgetown and Dartmouth.

Torchia received a $5,000 scholarship for the award and will be honored at the menâÄôs basketball regular season finale Sunday.