Indiana women’s swimmer Lilly King was tabbed the Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year, and Ohio State’s wrestler Kyle Snyder was named the 2017 Big Ten Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year, the conference announced on Wednesday.
King is the first female in Indiana’s history to claim Big Ten Athlete of the Year honors. The 2016 Olympic Champion became the first swimmer or diver in Big Ten history to win four individual national titles at the NCAA Championships. The sophomore took the NCAA gold in the 100-yard breaststroke, winning her second straight NCAA title in the event with a record time of 56.71 seconds. King also successfully defended her title in the 200-yard breaststroke with a record time of 2:03.18, the best in school history.
King’s standard reset the American, NCAA, NCAA meet, U.S. Open and Indiana school record she also established last year. King is the first student to win both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke crowns in back-to-back years since Southern California’s Rebecca Soni in 2008-09. King was named Big Ten Swimmer of the Championships and Women’s Swimmer of the Year after winning three individual Big Ten titles, as well as a gold medal with Indiana’s 400-yard medley relay. In August, the Evansville, Ind., native took home a gold medal for Team USA, winning in the 100-meter breaststroke with an Olympic record time of 1:04.93.
Snyder is the fifth Buckeye to win Male Athlete of the Year accolades. Snyder capped off his junior season with a 17-0 record and claimed his second consecutive Big Ten and NCAA titles at heavyweight. In August, the Woodbine, Md., native became the youngest Olympic wrestling champion in the United States history after winning gold at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. Snyder also competed overseas for Team USA at the World Wrestling Clubs Cup in Ukraine, the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia and Freestyle World Cup in Iran. The Yarygin is considered to be the most difficult open tournament in the world and Snyder became the first American male to win gold at the event since 2009.
King and Snyder were among a field of nominees that included nine individual national champions, 25 All-Americans, seven individual Big Ten Champions, three 2016 Olympic qualifiers and nine National Players of the Year.
The Big Ten Conference has recognized a Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year since 1982 and first honored a Female Athlete of the Year in 1983. The Big Ten Athletes of the Year are selected by a panel of conference media members from nominations submitted by each institution.
Press release courtesy of Big Ten Conference