COLUMBUS, Ohio Bryan Koniecko, a junior on the second-ranked Ohio State men’s tennis team, was presented with the 2008 Big Ten Athlete of the Year award Thursday night at the Big Ten championship banquet in Iowa City, Iowa. Koniecko, who was selected by a vote of the conference’s head coaches, is the Buckeyes’ first recipient of the award since Vince Ng earned the honor in 2003.

Ohio State led the contingent of 2008 All-Big Ten honorees with three selections. Koniecko, along with classmate Steven Moneke and sophomore Justin Kronauge, were unanimous selections.

For the third-consecutive year and fourth time overall, Buckeye head coach Ty Tucker was chosen as the Big Ten Coach of the Year.     

Koniecko, ranked 17th in the nation, enters the Big Ten championship with a 10-0 dual record in regular-season league action for the second-straight season. A winner of 16-consecutive matches, Koniecko owns an overall mark of 30-7. His 30 victories surpass his previous best of 29 wins he compiled in 2007 and 2006. In dual play, Koniecko is 22-3 overall, which includes an 11-1 record at No. 1 singles. He also boasts 6-1 and 5-1 records at Nos. 2 and 3 singles, respectively.

Moneke, No. 33 in the country, heads into the Big Ten championship on a 22-match win streak, which includes a 10-0 mark in conference action for the second-consecutive year. His last loss this season came Feb. 3 against Pepperdine’s No. 22-ranked Andre Begemann. Owning a 29-6 overall record and 26-1 dual mark, Moneke has gone 5-0 at No. 1 singles, as well as 12-1 and 9-0 at the Nos. 2 and 3 positions, respectively.

The Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season, Kronauge has not let up as a sophomore in 2007-08,  leading the Buckeyes in wins with 33 (seven losses). His 33 wins better the 29 victories he compiled during his rookie campaign. Also entering the postseason with a perfect conference dual record of 10-0, the 22nd-ranked player in the nation has won his last 12 matches, including a spotless tally (8-0) at No. 3 singles.

In his ninth season as head coach of the Buckeyes, Tucker guided Ohio State to its third-consecutive Big Ten regular-season crown a week ago after the Scarlet and Gray topped Penn State, 6-1, in Columbus. As they begin play in the 2008 Big Ten Championship, Tucker and the Buckeyes are seeking their third-consecutive conference tournament title as well. Under Tucker’s tutelage, Ohio State has recorded eight 20-win seasons. Earlier this season at Minnesota March 9 in Minneapolis, Tucker garnered his 200th career victory. Tucker also captured his 80th Big Ten win at Iowa March 7. Overall, Tucker owns a 215-46 overall record and 95-16 league mark.

Senior Drew Eberly was the Scarlet and Gray’s men’s tennis Sportsmanship Award recipient. To be selected as the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award Honoree, a student-athlete from each of the 11 conference institutions must have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. Additionally, the 11 student-athletes nominated must be in good academic standing and demonstrate good citizenship outside of sports competition. Eberly now is a candidate for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the Big Ten Conference will honor one male and female student-athlete from each institution at the conclusion of the school year.

As the No. 1-seed, the Buckeyes received a first-round bye in the 2008 Big Ten Championship. Ohio State will face No. 8-seed Iowa at 11 a.m. ET Friday at the Hawkeye Tennis Recreation Complex.  

2008 Men’s Tennis All-Big Ten and Individual Honorees

Athlete of the Year
Bryan Koniecko, Ohio State

Freshman of the Year
Marek Michalicka, Wisconsin

Coach of the Year
Ty Tucker, Ohio State

2008 All-Big Ten Team
Ruben Gonzales, Illinois*
Ryan Rowe, Illinois*
Thomas Richter, Indiana
Bart van Monsjou, Iowa*
Matko Maravic, Michigan*
Raoul Schwark, Minnesota
Bryan Koniecko, Ohio State*
Justin Kronauge, Ohio State*
Steven Moneke, Ohio State*
Michael James, Penn State
Moritz Baumann, Wisconsin*
Nolan Polley, Wisconsin
*unanimous selection

2008 Sportsmanship Award Honorees
Brandon Davis, Illinois
Dara McLoughlin, Indiana
Bart van Monsjou, Iowa
Peter Aarts, Michigan
Scott Rasmussen, Michigan State
Tobias Wernet, Minnesota
Alex Sanborn, Northwestern
Drew Eberly, Ohio State
Brendan Lynch, Penn State
Slavko Bijelica, Purdue
Marek Michalicka, Wisconsin