MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, June 4. MINNESOTA sprinter Derek Toomey, who just completed his collegiate competition for the Golden Gophers, was awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor from the Big Ten conference today.
The Medal of Honor is, according to the Big Ten conference, awarded to the student-athlete who “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.” Toomey, a kinesiology major, placed fourth in the 50 freestyle at last March’s NCAA championships. The highest national finish of his collegiate swimming career came in 2013 when he captured third place in the 50 free. This came a year after finishing 31st in the 50 free at the 2012 meet.
Toomey’s best time in the 50-yard free is 18.95, done as a leadoff split on Minnesota’s 200 free relay at the last NCAA championships. The co-captain’s contributions helped the Gophers place 22nd overall.
Below is a list of previous Minnesota swimmers and divers who have won the Medal of Honor since 1915:
Lowell Marsh (1931), Orville Peterson (1960), Walter P. Richardson (1965), Craig Lincoln (1972), Chris Curry-Gentz (1982), Sue Roell (1987), Mike Zechmeister (1989), Scott Tripps (1992), Uta Herrmann (1992), Laura Herman (1993), Kara Martin (1995), Bernie Zeruhn (1996), Matt Schlessman (1997), Terri Jashinsky (2000), Jenny Shaughnessy (2009), Kayle Jamison (2011)
Official press release from Minnesota:
Minnesota seniors Sara Moulton (softball) and Derek Toomey (men’s swimming) have been named winners for this year’s Big Ten Medal of Honor Award, given annually to the top male and female student-athlete at each conference institution. This year, the conference is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Big Ten Medal of Honor.
Moulton was named a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Second Team All-American this year and was a four-time All-Big Ten honoree during her career. She led the conference in wins with 27 and strikeouts with 244 and was one of three pitchers in the league with a sub-2.00 earned run average at 1.97. She was a top-30 finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, was named CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-District 6, and took home Big Ten Pitcher of the Week laurels three times.
In her final season in Maroon and Gold, Moulton picked up road victories against ranked foes LSU, Arizona State, Nebraska, and Michigan and defeated the Wolverines a second time to help Minnesota capture its second Big Ten Tournament championship in Evanston, Ill. Her no-hitter Feb. 22 against Hampton was one of her 12 shutouts on the season, a mark that led the conference and was good for sixth in the nation.
The Eagan, Minn., native finished her Gopher career with a 112-50 record, holding the program records for wins, appearances (178), innings pitched (1,017), complete games (108), shutouts (47) and strikeouts (1,184). She was taken fifth overall in the National Pro Fastpitch College Draft by the Chicago Bandits and recently earned her first professional win.
Toomey ended his stellar four-year career as a 15-time All-American, including three First Team All-American honors. As a senior, he set a school record and became the first swimmer in Big Ten history to go under 19 seconds in the 50 free when he finished in 18.95 in a prelim split at the 2014 NCAA Championships. He was the 2014 Big Ten champion in the event and placed fourth at the 2014 NCAA Championships after placing third in 2013.
Toomey, who is from Madison, Wis., was named the Team MVP as a senior, was a two-time team captain and was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. He was a First Team All-Big Ten selection two times, and he leaves Minnesota as a school record holder in the 50 free (18.95), 100 free (42.60) and the 200 freestyle relay (1:16.78).
About the Big Ten Medal of Honor
The Big Ten, the nation’s oldest collegiate conference, commemorates the 100th 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 more than 8,200 student-athletes, but only 24 will earn this prestigious award in 2014. In the 99 years of the Medal of Honor, more than 1,300 student-athletes have earned this distinction.