COLUMBUS, Ohio –The best swimming and diving season in nearly 50 years this past season for Ohio State University deserved to have a plethora of honorees and award winners. And that was the case when the team held its post-season awards banquet at the Faculty Club, just off The Oval on the Ohio State campus.
Eleven Buckeye swimmers and divers were honored for their efforts this past season, a special season in the pool for Ohio State as it won the Big Ten championship for the first time in 54 years, sent the largest contingent ever of swimmers and divers to the NCAA championships, placed in the Top 10 at NCAAs, produced a record number of All-Americans – 28 – and set 16 school records, many of them multiple times this season.
Senior captain George Markovic was presented with three awards: the Bill & Mae McCorkle Award as the team’s outstanding swimmer; the Charles and Irene Salie Award, which he shared as the highest placing swimming All-American; and the Leo Portelance Award for service as a team captain.
Markovic was the 2010 Big Ten champion in the 500 freestyle, winning with a stunning and staggering school-record time of 4:15.35. He went on to earn three All-America honors at the NCAA championships by finishing fifth in the 500 freestyle, 16th in the 1,650 free and as part of the eighth-place 800 freestyle relay team.
Senior Joel Elber was presented with the Leo Portelance Award for serving as a team captain for a school-record third time. After making finals in the 50 and 100 freestyles, respectively, at the 2010 Big Ten championships, Elber scored in three events and earned three All-America accolades at NCAAs as part of the 200 and 400 medley relay teams and the 400 free relay.
Senior Stefan Sigrist was also fifth at the NCAA championships, earning All-America honors in the 1,650 freestyle, and was presented with the Charles and Irene Salie Award for being the highest placing All-American. A member of the first class of Big Ten Conference Distinguished Scholars, Sigrist was also presented with the John Westman Award, the team’s medal of honor for the most outstanding student-athlete.
Sigrist, who at one point held three Ohio State distance records, was the 2010 Big Ten champion in the 1,650 free, crushing the field to win in a school-record time of 14:50.46.
Senior diver Wes Wieser is the Miller Anderson Award winner which goes to the team’s outstanding diver. Wieser was runner-up at Big Tens this year on both the 10-meter platform and three-meter springboard. He then picked up three All-America awards at the NCAA championships, including placing fifth on the 10-meter platform.
Senior Sam Pelkey’s 15th-place, All-America effort in the 100 breaststroke at the NCAA championships, on top of his runner-up finish in the 200 breaststroke at the Big Ten championships, earned him the team’s Dale England Award as the most inspirational senior performer. Pelkey had hip surgery after last season and no one really knew what he would be able to do as a senior. He merely shined on the two biggest stages – Big Tens and NCAAs.
Senior Alex Chen was named the team’s Skilken Award winner for his spirit of giving. Chen is studying aerospace engineering and is a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten Conference honoree.
The Mike Peppe Award, the team’s “coaches” award, was presented to Big Ten champion Elliott Keefer. The junior won the Big Ten title in the 100 breaststroke in a school-record time of 53.23 and was second in the 200 in another school-record time of 1:54.13. He went on to earn All-America honors in the 200 with a 12th-place NCAA finish. He also was named All-American in both the 200 and 400 medley relays.
The Carl Wirthwein “most improved swimmer” Award was presented to sophomore Andrew Elliott and junior Quincy Lee. Elliott won the Big Ten championship in the 100 backstroke with a school-record swim of 46.01. He swam to All-America honors as part of both the 200 and 400 medley relay teams at the NCAA championships.
Lee broke 200 butterfly record this season with a time of 1:45. 19. He was a finalist in both the 100 and 200 butterfly events at the 2010 Big Ten championships and he made his first NCAA championship meet appearance this season.
Sophomore Markus Sievers was presented with the Coach John Bruce Award for his commitment to excellence. Sievers was a finalist at the Big Ten championships in both the 200 and 400 individual medleys, and he set the school record in the 200 of 1:45.40. He competed in three individual events at the NCAA championships: the 100 and 200 backstrokes and the 200 individual medley.
The team’s most promising freshman and recipient of the Mike Cochran Award is Tim Phillips. The first national youth team member to sign a scholarship with Ohio State, Phillips anchored the team’s Big Ten-winning 200 freestyle relay team and was runner up in the 100 butterfly. He then earned four All-America honors at the 2010 NCAA championships, taking 12th in the 100 butterfly and swimming on three relay teams: 400 medley relay (9th); 800 free relay (8th); 400 free relay (15th).