In the wake of Maryland's disappointing and, to some, upsetting men's lacrosse loss to Johns Hopkins Saturday night, I thought it the appropriate time to take a big-picture look at some great things that are happening in and around Maryland's athletic department.
A MINI RANT
Let me start with a few words about the lacrosse game. This loss was disappointing, but not a tragedy. To the inevitable John Tillman critics who will doubtless emerge from the hidey holes where they perpetually watch replays of Maryland lacrosse circa 1975, I refer you to the current single by the CIncinnati band Walk the Moon (or at least its title).
Preseason polls tapped Maryland as the 10th-best team in the country and Johns Hopkins sixth. While I've made it clear that I think these polls are of dubious value and the season long arcs of the two teams have been very different, clearly people who know lacrosse far better than I perceived the Blue Jays' talent as superior to Maryland's.
THE BIG PICTURE
Now, on to the good stuff. Although it's not quite over, let's take a broad look at Maryland's first competitive year as a member of the Big Ten. When Maryland first announced the move, many people assumed the Terrapins would struggle to compete in their new conference home. As I see it, Maryland has flipped that notion on its head.
Yes, some programs in the B1G dominated Maryland in certain sports. Wrestling perhaps suffered the greatest disappointment but volleyball, gymnastics, women's soccer, track and field, tennis and golf all saw limited success. On the other hand, Maryland has won five (field hockey, men's soccer, women's basketball, men's lacrosse, women's lacrosse) conference championships -- more than any of the 13 other institutions -- and with some help could claim a sixth.
While the two sports that generate the most passion, football and men's basketball, didn't win titles, I think both exceeded expectations. Yes, the Ohio States and Wisconsins of the league punished Maryland and the Terps season ended on two sour notes, but they still managed a 4-4 conference finish registering big road wins at Michigan and Penn State.
The men's basketball team also surpassed its anticipated finish. It reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Mark Turgeon, lost just once at home and finished 15-4 in conference play good for second place behind NCAA finalist Wisconsin.
INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENTS - ACADEMIC
In the fall, seven Terrapins field hockey players were named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association's National Academic Squad. To qualify for this recognition, student-athletes must have achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or higher through the first semester. Brooke Adler, Anne-Floor Jansen Van Galen, Delaney Leathers, Welma Luus, Steffi Schneid, Sarah Sprink and Maddy Ulery represented Maryland which also received a National Academic Team honor.
Malina Howard - Women's basketball
The NCAA promotes its sponsorship of 89 championships across its three divisions and has created the Elite 89 Award. To qualify for the award a student athlete must be a "sophomore or above who has participated in their sport for at least two years with their school." They must also be an active member of the team, traveling and competing at the championship.
Showing a great athlete - student balance, Malina Howard was the recipient of the NCAA's Elite 89 Award for the 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship. Howard, a junior kinesiology major carries a cumulative 3.798 grade point average. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's championships.
Shannon Bustillos - Softball
Next up, is Shannon Bustillos. The senior, who has been a four year starter at catcher for Maryland's softball team was recently named a recipient of the prestigious NCAA Ethnic Minority Program Postgraduate Scholarship for Careers in Athletics.
On the field, Bustillos will end her career among (if not atop) Maryland's all-time leaders in home runs and RBI. As a student, Bustillos, majoring in criminal justice, has already been named to the All-ACC Academic team in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
In addition to her academic work, the senior from Anaheim, CA is active in many other crucial activities in and around campus. She currently serves as Vice-President of the Maryland Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and represents over 500 Maryland student-athletes within the athletic department; serves an elected appointment on the University Student Judiciary Honor Council; sits on the University Hazing Committee and participates on the University Libraries Board; and was appointed as the student-athlete representative to the Big Ten Integration Work Group on Donor and Alumni Relations and attended the NCAA Career in Sports Forum.
INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENTS - ATHLETIC
Maryland athletes have had other successes both in and out of the competitive athletic arenas. By my rough count as of this writing, Terrapins athletes have won a Big Ten Player of the week award 71 times. This is (also by my rough count) a higher count than any other conference opponent except Ohio State.
Juliet Vongphoumy - Women's golf
Back in the arena of athletic competition, Maryland golfer, Juliet Vongphoumy recently finished second at the Big Ten Championship. Vongphoumy, a senior from Providence, RI, completed three rounds of play with a two under par 214 tying her for second place individually. She was twice named the B1G Women's Golfer of the Week - once in the fall season and once in the spring season and was also honored with the Mary Fossum Award, honoring the conference's player with the lowest stroke average (+1.37) relative to par this season.
Kyle Berhlohr - Men's lacrosse
In lacrosse, the Tewaaraton Foundation recently announced its lists of 25 men's and 25 women's nominees for the most prestigious award in NCAA Lacrosse. Kyle Bernlohr, a junior goalie from Ohio represents the Terrapins on that list.
Fourteen schools are represented on the list which features 14 attackers, six midfielders, two defenders, two faceoff specialists and one goalie. Bernlohr is that unlikely nominee.
Sixteen schools are represented on the women's list. Six had two or more nominees led by four Maryland Terrapins. Maryland's nominees include senior Brooke Griffin and Freshman Megan Whittle as well as 2014 Tewaaraton finalist Megan Douty and the reigning Tewaaraton winner Taylor Cummings.
The Foundation will announce the finalists on May seventh and will bestow the awards at a ceremony held at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian on May 28th.
Mike Shawaryn - Baseball
Congratulations are also in order to Maryland sophomore pitcher Mike Shawaryn. In an announcement released Monday night Shawaryn accepted an invitation to join the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team as part of a 24 player roster. Shawaryn is the first Terrapins player since Pete Sinopoli in 1979 to play for a U.S. National team.
When Shawaryn improved his 2015 record to 10-0 with his seven inning win at Purdue Friday, he became the winningest pitcher in Maryland history with 21 career wins. He currently leads the Big Ten in strikeouts with 92 and has pitched to a 1.57 ERA thus far this season.
"To be able to represent your country is incredible," Shawaryn said." It's a humbling moment to be considered one of the 24 best players and wear the USA across your chest. It was a lifelong dream and I haven't really comprehended it yet. It's a huge honor."
Maryland head coach John Szefc, who became the fastest Terrapins head baseball coach to reach 100 wins Sunday, called Shawaryn "a first class guy on the field and off the field. He will be an ideal representative for USA Baseball. He's very deserving with what he's done on the field." He added, "They couldn't have chosen a better guy."
INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENTS - OTHER
Casey Ikeda - Men's lacrosse
Every year since 1981, the University of Maryland has inducted 20 senior students (10 male and 10 female) into the Maryland Medallion Society. This organization, "recognizes students who have contributed significantly to the general advancement of the interests of the University and displayed outstanding involvement and leadership in campus activities," or, as one other source put it, "the top 20 students (10 male and 10 female) in the graduating senior class."
Limited to only 20 students per year, inclusion in this group requires exceptional achievements. Sunday April 26, men's lacrosse defenseman Casey Ikeda received his induction into the Maryland Medallion Society. I expect there are some others but after some admittedly cursory research, I have found only two other Terrapins athletes who have been so honored. They are 2104 track and field graduate Becky Yep and 2007 football player Sam Hollenbach.
"We're very proud of Casey and all of the things that he has accomplished during his time at Maryland," said head coach John Tillman. "He embodies all the quality attributes of a Maryland lacrosse player. His spirited nature both on and off the field, in addition to his fantastic leadership, make him a well-deserved recipient of this award."
Those who follow men's lacrosse are likely aware of Ikeda's on field accomplishments. In 2014, he was a member of the ACC All-Academic Team and in Maryland's first season in the Big Ten, he has been named Big Ten Defender of the Week on four separate occasions.
Ikeda is also very active and involved in many off the field projects. In addition to being a part of the Big Brother program, he has assisted in setting up a youth lacrosse league through Prince George's County Parks & Recreation while also and delivering meals for the Food & Friends program in the DC area.
Said Ikeda, "I am so grateful to have been nominated for such a prestigious award. It is an honor to be mentioned among the other 19 accomplished Maryland students. I am privileged to represent the Maryland men's lacrosse program and my teammates and coaches, who have enabled me to achieve so many of my goals."