Jayhawk Male and Female AOY Nominees Unveiled
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas student-athletes proved they could compete with the best in the Big 12, nation and world during the 2011-12 season and eight of the finest Jayhawk performers have been nominated for Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards to be presented at the Rock Chalk Choice Awards at the Lied Center of Kansas Sunday.
Thomas Robinson (Basketball), Michael Stigler (Track and Field), and Tyshawn Taylor (Basketball) are the nominees on the men’s side, while Paris Daniels (Track and Field), Diamond Dixon (Track and Field), Andrea Geubelle (Track and Field), Maggie Hull (Softball), Ingrid Vidal (Soccer) are the nominees on the women’s side as announced by the Kansas Athletics Student-Athlete Development Office Wednesday. The winners will be announced at the Academy Awards-like celebration Sunday. Due to space limitations at the Lied Center the event is by invitation only and limited to athletic department staff, student-athletes, KU faculty and selected dignitaries.
Robinson and Taylor helped lead Kansas to 32-7 record on the season, advancing to the school’s 14th Final Four where it finished runner-up, won its school-record, eighth-straight and 12th Big 12 regular-season championship and finished the year No. 2 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll. Robinson, the Big 12 Player of the Year and consensus All-American declared for the NBA Draft and was selected fifth-overall by the Sacramento Kings. The Washington, D.C., native was the only player in the Big 12 to average a double-double with 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game and set a Kansas single-season record and led the nation with 27 double-doubles.
Stigler, from Canyon, Texas, was named the Big 12’s Freshman Track Athlete of the Year after winning the Big 12 Championship in the 400 hurdles and ran a school-record 49.45 in the event last spring. Stigler went on to represent KU at the US Olympic Trials, the youngest of eight runners in the 400-meter hurdle final and was one of only two collegiate athletes to compete in the event. He was one of five Kansas track and field athletes to return from the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-23 Championships with a medal after claiming silver in the 400-meter hurdles.
Taylor, from Hoboken, N.J., was a four-year starter at Kansas amassing a 127-21 record with four Big 12 regular-season titles, two Big 12 tourney championships, two NCAA Elite Eights and one Final Four. A Bob Cousy Award finalist as a junior and senior, Taylor was a two-time Big 12 Player of the Week in 2011-12 where he averaged 16.6 points and a team-best 4.8 assists per game. Taylor, who was named to numerous 2012 All-America teams as either a third team or an honorable mention selection, had 13 games of 20 or more points scored his senior season and was selected No. 41 overall by the Portland Trailblazers in the 2012 NBA Draft before being traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
Daniels, Dixon and Geubelle led Kansas to its highest-ever finish at an NCAA meet when the Jayhawks finished second at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Dixon (400-meters) and Geubelle (triple jump) each claimed individual titles in their marquee events, becoming the first Jayhawk women to earn individual championships since 2005. Daniels, from St. Louis, Mo., won the 200-meter title at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships and earned All-American status in the event at the national meet. Daniels also represented KU at the US Olympic Trials in June.
Dixon capped an incredible year with one of the highest honors an athlete can achieve, an Olympic Gold Medal. Dixon earned her way on to the women’s 4×400-relay team where she ran the second fastest split (50.15) on her team in preliminaries before her teammates captured gold in London the next day. She was KU’s first track and field gold medalist since Al Oerter won the discus in the 1968 Mexico City Games. Dixon earned a spot on the Olympic 4×400-meter relay team after placing fifth in the 400 meters at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials with a personal best and school record time of 50.88. She is the two-time defending Big 12 Champion in the outdoor 400 meters.
Geubelle, from University Place, Wash., was champion in both the Big 12 Indoor and Outdoor triple jump events and logged a school record, her eighth All-American honor as a Jayhawk and her third-straight All-American distinction in the outdoor triple jump when she placed third at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Guebelle competed for Kansas at the US Olympic Trials and won the gold medal in triple jump at the NACAC U23 Championships.
Hull, a senior from Lawrence, led the Big 12 Conference with a school-record .409 batting average in the spring and became the first Kansas softball player to earn All-Big 12 Conference First Team accolades since the 2006 season. She was awarded her second Academic All-Big 12 First Team award and was named First Team All-Region by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). Hull earned national exposure with a Capital One CoSIDA Academic All-District Award, a hat tip to her excellence on the field and a perfect 4.0 GPA in the classroom. Hull led the conference with 67 hits and tied a single-season KU record with 46 runs scored, good for fourth in the Big 12.
Vidal’s whirlwind year started with her native Colombia in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and ended with Colombia competing in the 2012 London Summer Olympics. In between, Vidal started all 21 contests for Kansas last season while leading the team with 11 goals, the fourth-best single-season mark in school history and one shy of the team’s freshman record. Vidal was named to the NSCAA All-Central Region Third Team, All-Big 12 First Team (one of two freshmen), Big 12 All-Newcomer Team, TopDrawerSoccer.com Top 100, TopDrawerSoccer.com Big 12 Top 20 and Kansas’ offensive most valuable player.
The winner of each award, along with the Rock Chalk Moment, will be announced near the end of Sunday’s show. Plans call for a red-carpet entrance followed by a reception before the night’s featured awards ceremony in the Auditorium. The full-scale production will feature numerous video features and highlights and theatrical opening and closing numbers.
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