April 5, 2017
At the 2017 Ohio State Scholar-Athlete Dinner, 10 finalists were announced for the Big Ten Medal of Honor.
The Big Ten, the nation’s oldest collegiate conference, commemorates the 103rd anniversary of a very unique tradition – the Big Ten Medal of Honor. The conference’s most exclusive award was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. 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.
The Ohio State finalists for the Big Ten Medal of Honor are Seth Bearjar (pistol), Christy Blough (volleyball), Jake Martin (gymnastics), Donovan Robertson (track and field) and Nick Schilkey (hockey) on the men’s side and Lindsay Agnew (soccer), Emma Baranski (synchronized swimming), Elizabeth Davidson (synchronized swimming), Jessica Porvasnik (golf) and Taylor Vargo (swimming) on the women’s side.
The winners of the Big Ten Medal of Honor will be announced at the inaugural Scarlet and Graymies April 25.
Lindsay Agnew, Women’s Soccer – Dublin, Ohio
Agnew, who has earned a 3.86 grade-point average, recently was selected in the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Draft, getting taken by the Washington Spirit with the 19th overall pick. Agnew, from Dublin, Ohio, was a second team All-Big Ten selection in 2016 after leading the Buckeyes with 10 goals and eight assists. The co-captain and 2016 CoSIDA Second Team Academic All-American concluded her career fourth in program history with 19 assists, tied for 13th with 55 career points and 15th with 17 career goals. Agnew is a four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete, a three-time Academic All-Big Ten pick, a 2016 Second Team NSCAA Scholar All-East Region selection, a 2015 and 2016 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and a 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District selection. She was recently selected as one of Ohio State’s two 2017 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award winners.
Emma Baranski, Synchronized Swimming – Hamden, Conn.
Baranski completed her tremendous career as a four-time All-American and is the back-to-back solo national champion. She also won a duet national title, was part of two team event national titles, is a technical event national champion and helped lead the Buckeyes to a pair of overall national titles. Baranski was the High Point Award winner each of the last two years at the U.S. Collegiate Championship and was named the 2017 U.S. Synchronized Swimming Collegiate Student-Athlete of the Year. Out of the pool, Baranski is a three-time member of the U.S. Collegiate All-Academic Team and a four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete.
Elizabeth Davidson, Synchronized Swimming – Northridge, Calif.
Davidson is a three-time U.S. Collegiate All-American who will likely earn the award for a fourth time after winning a duet national title at this year’s U.S. Collegiate Championships. Davidson also won a technical national title in 2016 and helped lead the Buckeyes to a pair of overall national titles. A two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, Davidson studied abroad in Hungary last spring and is completing her degree with majors in Russian and strategic communication and a minor in linguistics. She also is a four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete.
Jessica Porvasnik, Women’s Golf – Hinckley, Ohio
Porvasnik is already three-time All-Big Ten performer, including Big Ten Player of the Year distinction as a freshman in 2013-14. She also was recognized as an All-America honorable mention that season. Porvasnik added Academic All-America honors a year ago as well. The five-time Big Ten Golfer of the Week qualified for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open and still owns the best round in school history, firing a 65 in the 2014 Westbrook Spring Invitational.
Taylor Vargo, Swimming and Diving – Sandusky, Ohio
A four-time OSU Scholar Athlete and three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Vargo has was an honorable mention All-American in 2016. Specializing in breaststroke events, she currently holds four school records: in short course she holds the mark for the 200 breaststroke and she helped set the 400 medley relay record as a junior, and in long course she holds both the 100 and 200 breaststroke marks. She earned a trip to NCAA Championships in each of her four seasons at Ohio State and last summer she competed at the 2016 Olympic Trials. A four-time letterwinner, Vargo had six finishes inside the Top 8 at Big Ten Championships throughout her career.
Seth Bearjar, Pistol – Lusby, Md.
A three-time national champion on Ohio State’s pistol team, Bearjar is an industrial and systems engineering major from Lusby, Md. He has been named an OSU Scholar-Athlete all four years and he also has been named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar during his time as a Buckeye. Bearjar has been named an All-American six times in his career: twice each in 2014, 2015 and 2016. As a sophomore, he earned first team All-America honors in free pistol. In 2015, he competed as a member of Team USA at the World University Games. Prior to the 2016-17 season he was named one of the team’s co-captains.
Christy Blough, Men’s Volleyball – Ontario, N.Y.
Blough steered the Ohio State men’s volleyball program to the 2016 NCAA national championship, ranking second in the country with 11.21 assists per set that season. He ranks inside the Top 5 all-time in school history with over 4,000 career assists to his name. The 2016 AVCA All-America Second Team selection jumped up to the first team Academic All-America squad. Blough cleaned up at the 2017 OSU Scholar-Athlete Banquet, named the recipient of both the Corwin A. Fergus Memorial Award and Varsity O Scholarship, in addition to his finalist status for the Big Ten Medal of Honor.
Jake Martin, Men’s Gymnastics – Oviedo, Fla.
A two-time All-American, Martin has excelled during his time in Columbus. He won a title at the 2014 Big Ten Championships on vault and he was a first team All-Big Ten selection in 2014. The Oviedo, Fla., native has four Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors to his name and he was named the Collegiate Gymnastics Association National Athlete of the Week in 2014. Martin is a five-time OSU Scholar-Athlete and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten pick.
Donovan Robertson, Men’s Track and Field – Berea, Ohio
A two-time All-American in the 60m hurdles, Robertson will go down as one of the greatest hurdlers in program history. He is the co-owner of the school record in the 60m hurdles with a personal-best time of 7.65. The 2014 Big Ten Freshman of the Year has been named second team All-Big Ten twice in his career and he is now a four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete. Robertson was the recipient of the 2016 Big Ten Sportsmanship award and he also serves as a member of the NCAA Division I Competition Oversight Committee.
Nick Schilkey, Men’s Hockey – Marysville, Mich.
Schilkey, a two-time second team All-Big Ten selection, is a finance major with a 3.8 grade-point average. A two-time team captain, he led the Big Ten and was third in the NCAA this season with 27 goals, the most goals for a Buckeye since 1991-92. He had a career-high tying 41 points in 2016-17 as he led the Buckeyes to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. Schilkey ended his career with 130 points in 141 games for the Scarlet and Gray, the most career points for a Buckeye since 2004 and the fourth-most points since 1996-97. A Marysville, Mich., native, he is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and a four-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete, as well as a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.