May 11, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The 2012 edition of the Ohio State Scholar-Athlete Dinner will be held Wednesday at the Ohio Union, marking the 45th edition of the banquet that recognizes the outstanding academic achievements of Ohio State student-athletes.
The event is capped each year with the presentation of the Big Ten Medal of Honor. Each member institution in the conference gives the award annually to the male and female student-athletes in the graduating class who have attained the greatest proficiency in both academics and athletics. The Big Ten Conference office established the award in 1914 for men and an additional award for the top female was instituted in 1982. This honor includes a $5,000 postgraduate scholarship.
This year, five women and two men are finalists for the honor. The five female candidates are Bianca Alvarez (diving), Alayna Markwordt (lacrosse), Madison McNary (track and field), Danielle Scoliere (soccer) and Margarita Tschomakova (fencing). There are two finalists for the men's award, Andrew Elliott (swimming) and Colton Sponseller (wrestling).
As one of the most accomplished divers in recent Ohio State history, Bianca Alvarez capped her senior year with two Big Ten titles (1- and 3-meter springboards) as well as a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships (3-meter springboard). The eight-time All-American earned her success after battling back from an injury that sidelined her for the entire 2008-09 season. In March, Alvarez was named Big Ten Diver of the Year - Ohio State's first to receive the honor since Aimee Hogan in 1996. Along with her athletic accomplishments, Alvarez is also a four-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. A native of Miami, Fla., Alvarez will graduate with degrees in neuroscience and psychology. She plans to attend graduate school for a master's degree in medical science, eventually leading to medical school in the future.
Alayna Markwordt completed her career as the Ohio State record holder in career goals (181) and points (314) and was second all-time in assists (133) after scoring at least one point in 65-consecutive games, dating back to the fourth game of her freshman season. As a senior in 2012, she led the American Lacrosse Conference and was fourth in the NCAA in points per game (5.29) and fifth in assists per game (2.88), total points (90) and assists (49). Markwordt is a four-time All-ALC selection and is poised to become the third two-time All-American in Buckeye lacrosse history. After she graduates, the Woodbine, Md., native and four-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete hopes to build on her undergraduate degree in dietetics with a master's degree from Ohio State's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
A native of Tarpon Springs, Fla., senior Madison McNary has helped the women's track and field program reach new heights during her Buckeye career. In 2011, she was part of the Ohio State squad that claimed the first Big Ten indoor and outdoor championships in program history. She is a three-time Big Ten champion in the 60-meter dash, 200-meter dash and the 4x100-meter relay. McNary also held the school record in the 60-meter dash in 2011 and is a member of the school-record holding 4x100-meter relay team. An Academic All-Big Ten performer in the classroom, McNary is set to receive her degree in journalism.
Danielle Scoliere, a member of the Ohio State women's soccer team, was a two-time team captain and a first team All-Big Ten selection while also earning OSU Scholar-Athlete honors three times and was named a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. The Dublin, Ohio, native was an NSCAA Scholar All-American in 2011 and helped the Buckeyes to 51 career wins during her four years, tying for the most by an Ohio State senior class. Scoliere was a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar three times and plans to attend the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State after graduation.
Margarita Tschomakova has had a full collegiate career, both academically and competitively, as a member of the Ohio State fencing squad competing in women's sabre. She is a four-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree while studying international business. The Bonn, Germany, native captured a Midwest Conference championship in 2011. She also competed at the NCAA Championships the past four seasons, finishing in the Top 10 and earning All-America accolades at each event. This season she helped the Buckeyes to an NCAA team title with a seventh-place finish at the competition. Tschomakova will represent Bulgaria in the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer.
A native of Granger, Ind., Andrew Elliott is a three-time Big Ten Champion, winning the 200 backstroke in both 2011 and 2012 and claiming the 100 backstroke title in 2010. A three-time All-Big Ten honoree and the school record holder in the 200 and 100 backstroke, he was a three-time NCAA individual qualifier and earned All-America honors as part of the 400 and 200 medley relay teams in 2011. A standout student as a marketing major who plans to attend graduate school for sport management, he was the recipient of the NCAA's Elite 88 Award in 2010 when he had the highest grade-point average for an athlete competing at the NCAA championships. A four-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete and three-time Academic All-Big Ten choice, as well as a team captain as a senior, he was a member of the 2010 squad that won Ohio State's first Big Ten team title in 54 years.
A three-time NCAA championships qualifier (2009, 2010, 2011), Colt Sponseller finished fourth at the 2011 NCAA Championships to earn All-America honors. A native of Glenmont, Ohio, Sponseller, was the 2010 and 2011 Big Ten Championships runner-up at 165 pounds. This past April, just one month after earning his bachelor's degree in business, Sponseller competed at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City, Iowa. Academically, Sponseller was a 2008 NWCA Freshman All-Academic Team selection, 2010 NWCA All-Academic Team member, two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and three-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete.