Michael Benson: May 2013 Archives

NIU ATHLETICS WELCOMES NEWEST HUSKIE

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The Northern Illinois University Athletics gained a new member to the Huskie to the family yesterday, as head wrestling coach Ryan Ludwig and his wife, Jolene, welcomed Hudson Thomas into the world at 1:56 p.m. He weighed 6.2 pounds and measured 18.5 inches.

Huskie fans can give their congratulations to the Ludwig family via Coach Ludwig's Twitter account @IronHuskie.

Northern Illinois senior student-athletes Lauren Eberts (women's soccer), Samantha Grams (volleyball), Shaakira Haywood (women's basketball), Jenelle McCalla (track & field) and Amanda Sheppard (softball) have been honored as 2013 Outstanding Women Student Awards for their contributions to Northern Illinois University. Awarded annually since 1980, the honor is given by the NIU Presidential Commission on the Status of Women to 48 women across all disciplines.
 
Eberts, who has a 3.762 GPA in public health, played in every minute of the team's 2012 season. The senior defender helped NIU allow the fewest goals in the Mid-American Conference and the second-fewest shots on goal in NIU's program history.
 
Grams maintains a 3.805 GPA as a health sciences major. The Forest Park, Ill., native earned Academic All-MAC honorable mention laurels during her senior campaign with the Huskies after playing in 24 matches and 62 sets in 2012. Grams totaled 28 kills, 39 blocks and 14 digs during the year, scoring 48 total points during the season.
 
Haywood has a 3.687 GPA in psychology. She played in all 30 games, starting 12 at center in 2012-13 and has played in 37 straight games dating back to February of 2012. Haywood scored a career-high 73 points, averaging 2.4 points a game, shooting 43.3 percent (26-60) on the season.
 
McCalla, who has a perfect 4.0 GPA in psychology, holds the NIU school record in the 400 hurdles with a time of 1:01.76. This year, the Whitby, Ontario, Canada, native qualified for the MAC Indoor Championships in the 60 hurdles, while also contributing on NIU's 4x400 relay teams.
 
Sheppard has a 3.495 GPA in kinesiology and helped the Huskies reach the 2013 MAC Championship game. The Oak Forest, Ill., native batted .298 and ranked second on the team with a .470 slugging percentage, while playing in all 57 games. Sheppard also was second on the team with 18 extra-base hits, including a team-best 12 doubles and five home runs.

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Northern Illinois graduate student and Huskie Media Relations graduate assistant Michael Benson returns to ESPN UNITE: The Schwab Wednesday at 11 p.m. CT to take part in the semi-final round.

 
Benson will take on Mississippi's Ryan Smith, the Southeastern Conference's winner, and Penn State's Daniel Smith, the champion from the Big Ten. The winner will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Bristol, Conn., for the finals at ESPN's headquarters.
 
"The semi-finals should be quite a challenge," Benson said. "It was nice to get out of the first round with a win, but now the questions and the competition will be better. I've been doing what I can to prepare, but it ultimately comes down to getting questions that fit your strengths."
 
The sport management major clinched a berth in the semi-finals April 10 by winning the Mid-American Conference title over students from Central Michigan and Western Michigan. Benson got four points out of the first round, which asked the contestants to name the top 15 NFL career leaders in rushing yards. After stumbling on the pop culture question, he all but clinched the win by scoring five points in the college sports round question that asked contestants to name the members of the Pac-12 Conference.
 
"I really struggled in the pop culture and social media rounds the first time out," Benson said. "If I have any chance of moving on to the finals, I'll have to do considerably better in both of those categories."
 
The winner from the third semi-final will take on Michael Smith of Utah and Taylor Smith of Maryland.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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Baseball: The Huskies closed out their home schedule over the weekend with a three-game set against Eastern Michigan. NIU claimed the first game on Friday with a 2-1 win, securing them a spot in the MAC Tournament. The Eagles responded, though, with a 17-12 win on Saturday and a 12-7 triumph on Sunday.

Softball: Northern Illinois advanced to the MAC title game during the conference tournament, but fell just short of advancing to the NCAA Tournament. NIU started the tournament Wednesday with a 2-1 win over Miami (Ohio). Thursday, the Huskies defeated top-seeded Ball State, 3-1, before suffering their first loss of the tournament against Central Michigan, 5-0. The Huskies moved on to the championship game by eliminating BSU, 3-2, but lost in 11 innings to Central Michigan, 4-2.

Track & Field: NIU took 11th place at the MAC Outdoor Championships over the weekend. Janay Mitchell accounted for eight team points by finishing third in the 100 meters and seventh in the 200 meters. Meanwhile, Sidra Sherrill (shot put), Natalie Tarter (heptathlon) and Jamie Burr (800 meters) also scored points for the Huskies.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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Baseball: The Huskies cooled off somewhat during the opening stretch of May. After closing April with an 11-5 loss at Bradley, NIU got a 7-5 victory comeback win at UIC Wednesday. The Huskies opened their weekend MAC series at Toledo Friday with a win, shutting out the Rockets, 4-0. However, UT came back with a pair of wins, 6-3 on Saturday and 9-2 on Sunday, to take the series.

Softball: Northern Illinois closed their regular season and clinched the No. 4 seed in the MAC Tournament during the week. NIU began the week with a 2-0 loss at DePaul. However, the Huskies responded with four wins in their final home weekend of the year. On Friday, NIU claimed a doubleheader sweep of Toledo, winning 6-5 and 11-2. The Huskies shut out Bowling Green on Saturday, 3-0, then won in thrilling fashion on Sunday over the Falcons, 5-4.

Men's Golf: NIU ended their season Sunday by taking ninth place at the MAC Championships in Nashport, Ohio. Bryce Emory led the way by tying for 14th place.