O'Connor and Buchholtz earn All-Big Ten Honors
 
 
 
Senior Jay Gillespie participates in the hammer throw at the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships.
 
Senior Jay Gillespie participates in the hammer throw at the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships.
 
 

May 15, 2012

CHICAGO, ILL.  – The Big Ten Conference office announced on Tuesday the 2012 All-Big Ten women’s and men’s outdoor track and field teams and individual award winners.

Representing Michigan State on the first team is redshirt freshman Leah O’Connor (Croswell, Mich./Croswell-Lexington).

O’Connor won the Spartans only gold medal in her first career Big Ten Outdoor Championship meet in the Women’s 3000-Meter Steeplechase.  O’Connor made her decisive move with 800 meters remaining in the race and held on for victory in the final stretch, posting a time of 10:12.36.

In her first year of competition, O’Connor posted career bests of 4:24.92 in the 1500 Meters and 2:12:87 in the 800 Meters.

Senior Becca Buchholtz (East Troy, Wis./East Troy) is the lone Spartan on the All-Big Ten Second Team after earning a silver medal in the High Jump last weekend during the outdoor championships.

Buchholtz finished her storied career in the conference as a four-time Big Ten champion.  She is the school-record holder in the event at 1.83 meters (6 feet) and has a grand total of seven-career Big Ten Medals to her credit.

She was a First Team All-Big Ten selection during the 2012 indoor season, earning a gold medal at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.  She would go on to earn a 2012 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award and honorable mention All-American Honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

The Big Ten Conference office recognizes student-athletes from each team with the Sportsmanship Award. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. 

Michigan State’s honorees are seniors Rebekah Smeltzer (Monroe, Mich./Jefferson) and Jay Gillespie (Allen Park, Mich./Allen Park). 

Smeltzer is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection in Track and Field and earned a personal best of 35:08.02 in the Women’s 10,000 Meters this past weekend at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships.  She sports personal bests of 16:36.28 in the 5000 meters and 4:32.14 for the 1500 meters.  She will graduate with a degree from the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State.

Jay Gillespie was a bronze medalist in the hammer throw at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships last weekend and finished 9th in the nation in the hammer throw at the NCAA Indoor Championships.  In 2011, he was a U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Honoree. 

Gillespie is also a three-time NCAA East Preliminary Round Qualifier and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, with personal bests of 62.19 meters in the hammer throw and 21.32 meters in the weight throw.  He will graduate with a degree in Kinesiology.

Smeltzer and Gillespie are now candidates for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the conference office will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year.