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Sowinski and Melander Named Iowa’s Big Ten Medal of Honor Winners

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa recently announced that Hawkeye seniors Erik Sowinski and McKenzie Melander have been named Iowa’s 2012 Big Ten Medal of Honor winners.

First awarded in 1914, the Big Ten endowed a Medal of Honor to be given annually to a student in the graduating class of each university that demonstrated proficiency in scholarship and athletics. In 1982, the Medal of Honor was expanded to include a senior female athlete from each institution. The Big Ten will announce the Medal of Honor award winners on June 6.

Sowinski, an integrative physiology major from Waukesha, Wis., is a five-time All-American in the middle distance events on the University of Iowa men’s track and field team. The 2012 Big Ten indoor 800-meter champion set school records in the indoor 600 meters (1:16.91) and 800 meters (1:47.62), the outdoor 800 meters (1:46.88), and as part of four relays. Sowinski’s performance at the 2011 Big Ten Outdoor Championships in Iowa City helped the Hawkeyes to their first Big Ten title since 1967. He is a three-time academic All-Big Ten honoree and Dean’s List student.

Melander, a speech and hearing science major from Apple Valley, Minn., is a distance runner on the Iowa women’s track and field and cross country teams. She set the school record in the indoor mile (4:39.78), earning All-America honors in that event in 2011. She won the 2012 Big Ten outdoor 5,000-meter title, placing second in the 10,000 meters. Melander earned all-Big Ten and all-region honors during the 2011 cross country season. A six-time academic All-Big Ten honoree and four-time Dean’s List student, she helped the Hawkeye cross country team to four USTFCCCA all-academic honors.

The pair were recently named to the 2012 Capital One Track and Field Academic All-District team, and are scheduled to compete at the upcoming NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines. Sowinski will run the 800 meters on June 6, while Melander will run the 5,000 meters on June 9.

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