Each year, the Big Ten Conference awards the Big Ten Medal of Honor to the most outstanding male and female senior student-athlete on each B1G campus. Gabriela Cecchini, a fencer from Porto Alegre, Brazil, is one of four women’s finalists for the 2020 award.
Cecchini was a three-time All-American, with two second team accolades, and had two Top 10 finishes at NCAA Championships. She was a three-time NCAA qualifier, posting Top 5 finishes at NCAA Regionals each time she competed. Cecchini finished eighth at the 2018 NCAA Championships and ninth the following year; in 2020, she earned a return trip but was unable to compete when the championships were canceled. The team’s foil captain, she earned First Team All-Midwest Conference honors twice after finishing as runner-up in both 2019 and ’20. She was a member of three MFC team overall championships along with a women’s team title in 2020 when overall teams were not recognized.
Cecchini graduated with a double major in economics and political science and a minor in world literatures in Spring 2020. She earned Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, Academic All-Big Ten and Ohio State Scholar-Athlete accolades. In addition, Cecchini received the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award for the Buckeye fencing program in 2019.
The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.” Big Ten schools currently feature almost 9,500 student-athletes, but only 28 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis. In the 100-plus years of the Medal of Honor, almost 1,400 student-athletes have earned this distinction.