Benner Tabbed B1G Freshman of the Year
Nov. 1, 2016

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Emma Benner was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year the conference office announced Tuesday. Benner was the top freshman finisher over the weekend at the Big Ten Championships and was the only freshman woman to earn a Big Ten Athlete of the Week award this season, which she did twice.

The award was voted on by the conference’s 14 head coaches.

“Emma is a special gift. Kudos to Coach Jeff Kent for doing an outstanding job of developing her talent to be a top-six performer at the Big Ten Championships,” head coach Lonnie Greene said. “She brings the program a grit and fight that is second to none. You had to have been there to understand the magnitude of what she accomplished this weekend. She stands a great chance to get out of the regional to the national championships next week. Again, kudos to Coach Kent who has done a tremendous job with our distance group all season.”

“To have Emma be the second Big Ten Freshman of the Year recipient in Purdue cross country history is a well-deserved honor and an accumulation of the hard work she has put in since July,” assistant coach Jeff Kent said. “She is among a very elite field in the Big Ten Conference and I’m excited to see her progression throughout the next three weeks.”

Benner, a native of Forest Lake, Minnesota, earned first team All-Big Ten honors after placing sixth in the 6,000-meter conference meet Sunday in Minneapolis. She was the only freshman to finish in the top 10. She joins Lindsay Zinn as the only Boilermaker women to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in cross country. Zinn picked up the accolade in 2001 after finishing third in the 5,000-meter race. Benner is just the fourth Boilermaker in school history to earn first team All-Big Ten honors, joining Hope Schmelzle (2015), Zinn (2001) and Andrea Everett-Paolillo (1986).

"It means a lot to me to get this honor because it is something that shows that I am near the top of the freshmen, which is something I would never have imagined a year ago," Benner said. "It's great to be honored for all the hard work and dedication that I have put into this season. Being the second woman in school history to be named this is also great because it shows what kind of program we are becoming. It's truly a testament to all the work, dedication and heart that Coach Kent and Coach Greene put into this program. I wouldn't have reached this level without them."

This season, Benner won the Golden Eagle Invitational and Indiana Intercollegiates. She has been the top Boilermaker finisher in all five races in which she has competed and beat All-Americans at the Notre Dame Invitational, Pre-Nationals and the Big Ten Championships.

Benner was also named Purdue's Sportsmanship Award honoree on the women's side, while Jaret Carpenter earned the men's honor for the Boilermakers.

Full Big Ten awards can be found below.

Benner and the Boilermakers continue the championship portion of the season Friday, Nov. 11 in Madison, Wisconsin, at the Great Lakes Regionals.


Athlete of the Year

ERIN FINN, Michigan

Coach of the Year


Freshman of the Year

Emma Benner, Purdue


Athlete of the Year


Coach of the Year

Mick Byrne, Indiana

Freshman of the Year


Unanimous selections in ALL CAPS





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