RCCA to Honor Top Male and Female Athlete of the Year

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Rock Chalk Choice Awards officials can look at Sunday’s 2013 Male and Female Athlete of the Year Honors in two ways – impossible to choose wrong or impossible to choose from. This year’s nominee list includes another batch of student-athletes who broke school, conference and season records, who claimed conference and national championships, and who were selected to continue competing by their sport’s highest professional leagues.

Seven male student-athletes – Kyle Clemons (track and field), Chris Gilbert (golf), Ben McLemore (men’s basketball), Jordan Piche’ (baseball), James Sims (football), Michael Stigler (track and field) and Jeff Withey (men’s basketball) – and six female student-athletes – Natalia Bartnovskaya (track and field), Andrea Geubelle (track and field), Angel Goodrich (women’s basketball), Maggie Hull (softball), Caroline Jarmoc (volleyball) and Lindsay Vollmer (track and field) – are nominated for Kansas Athletics’ Athlete of the Year and among those set to be honored at the second Annual Rock Chalk Choice Awards inside the Lied Center.

In addition to the Male and Female Athletes of the Year, Kansas student-athletes and teams have been nominated by coaches and their peers for the Jayhawker Award, Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role, The Crimson Climb Award, True Blue Award and the Rock Chalk Moment Award. Special student-athlete academic achievements will be recognized throughout the evening at the Academy Awards-like celebration. 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.

Male Athlete of the Year Nominees
Kyle Clemons (Rowlett, Texas)

Clemons ran a school-record 45.10 to claim the 2013 Big 12 Outdoor title in the 400 meters and was a member of KU’s Big 12 Championship 1600-meter relay team. For the third-straight season Clemons was an All-America Second Team honoree in the 400 meters, taking 13th-place in the event at the NCAA Championships. Clemons was also a member of the 4×400-meter relay team that finished ninth in Eugene.

Chris Gilbert (Simi Valley, Calif.)
Gilbert birdied his final collegiate hole and posted a top-10 finish at the NCAA Fayetteville Regional, narrowly missing qualifying for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship. Gilbert closed his season with a 72.02 scoring average, the third-best by a Kansas golfer since the current records started in the mid-1980s, and finished tied for the lead in two events – the first two tournament wins of his collegiate career. Gilbert posted six top-10 finishes during the 2012-13 campaign and logged seven rounds in the 60s.

Ben McLemore (St. Louis, Mo.)
The second guard selected in the 2013 NBA draft class, McLemore was a Consensus All-America Second Team selection and an All-Big 12 First Team honoree. He led Kansas in scoring in 2012-13 with 15.9 points per game, good for third in the Big 12. McLemore led the Big 12 with an 87.0 free throw percentage and also ranked among the league leaders in field-goal percentage (49.5, 8th), three-point field goal percentage (42.0, 2nd), three-point field goals made (2.0, 6th) and rebounds (5.2, 20th). Additionally, McLemore’s 15.9 points per game broke the KU freshman record of 14.6 ppg posted by Jayhawk legend Danny Manning in 1985.

Jordan Piche’ (Greeley, Colo.)
Piche’ finished his first Big 12 baseball season with a 3-3 record and five saves against conference foes en route to Newcomer of the Year honors. He is just the second Jayhawk to claim the award. The right-handed relief pitcher posted a 2.20 ERA, 10th-best in conference games, and allowed eight runs and five walks in 32.2 innings of work. Piche’ was the recipient of three Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors last season, becoming the first player to earn more than two in a single season since the award began in 2011. Piche’ was an All-Big 12 First Team selection. Overall last season, Piche’ was 6-2 with a 1.68 ERA in 32 appearances and saved 12 games for KU.

James Sims (Irving, Texas)
Sims became just the 11th player in Kansas history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season as he turned in 1,013 yards on the ground and nine touchdowns in 2012 despite missing the first three games of the season. He set a KU record by recording 100 or more yards in six consecutive games. Sims, who led the Big 12 in rushing and ranked 18th in the NCAA in 2012, recorded a career-long rush of 64 yards (vs. Texas), a career-long reception of 51 yards (vs. Oklahoma) and a career-long TD run of 59 yards (vs. Baylor). Additionally, he logged his career-best rushing game with 176 yards vs. Texas. He finished his junior campaign ranked eighth on the Kansas all-time rushing chart with 2,482 yards.

Michael Stigler (Canyon, Texas)
Stigler collected a host of individual accolades in 2012-13 running to a school record and Big 12 title in the 400-meter hurdles, however it was his work on the men’s 4×400-meter relay team that made an even larger impact. As the quartet’s most consistent leg, Stigler helped guide the group to the Big 12 Outdoor title as well as All-America second team honors at the NCAA Championships.

Jeff Withey (San Diego, Calif.)
The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Withey broke his own Kansas and Big 12 single-season record blocked shots record with 146 blocks in 2012-13. Last season Withey blocked 140 shots to set the school and league mark. The 2012 and 2013 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Withey is also the KU and Big 12 career blocked shots leader ending his career with 312 all-time blocks. He was selected in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft, joining McLemore as the 73rd 74th players in KU history to be drafted. More than merely a defensive threat, Withey led Kansas in rebounding at 8.5 boards per game to complement his 13.7 scoring average. The 7-footer was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2013 Big 12 Championship.

Female Athlete of the Year Nominees
Natalia Bartnovskaya (Krasnoyarsk, Russia)

A two-time junior college pole vault champion, Bartnovskaya didn’t take long to adjust to competition in her first season as a Jayhawk. Bartnovskaya set a new Kansas record in the pole vault, claimed an NCAA Indoor title, was runner-up at the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championship and placed second at the NCAA Outdoor meet – contributing needed points to KU’s first ever women’s team NCAA title.

Andrea Geubelle (University Place, Wash.)
Geubelle had a senior year for the record books, claiming two individual NCAA Championships and helping lead the women’s track and field team to its first ever NCAA team title in June. Geubelle qualified for the NCAA Championships in both the long jump and triple jump for the fourth straight season and repeated as Big 12 champion in the outdoor triple jump. Early in the year, Geubelle became the first female since 2003 to win both the indoor long jump and triple jump NCAA titles. She owns KU’s long jump and triple jump records.

Angel Goodrich (Tahlequah, Okla.)
The all-time assist leader in Kansas women’s basketball history, Goodrich became the sixth player to be chosen in the WNBA Draft. Goodrich finished her career with 1,262 points and 771 assists, the third-highest total in Big 12 Conference history. During the 2012-13 season, she was a finalist for the Naismith Award, Wade Trophy, Wooden Award, Nancy Lieberman Award and USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, earned First Team All-Big 12 honors and was a member of the WBCA All-Region 5 Team.

Maggie Hull (Lawrence, Kan.)
It’s nearly impossible to summarize Hull’s story as the Lawrence, Kan., native started all 210 games of her career and graduated as one of the most iconic players in Jayhawk softball history. A two-time Academic All-American, Hull finally grasped the one dream she had yet to accomplish at Kansas last May when she was named the 11th All-American in program history. She tops the KU record books in nearly every category, with the highlights including career batting average record as well as her astounding .456 batting average her senior season that shattered the Jayhawks’ previous record and ranks third all-time in Big 12 history.

Caroline Jarmoc (Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
Jarmoc became the first American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American in Kansas volleyball history after earning Second Team honors. She continued her streak of matches started dating back to her freshman debut, a total of 105-consecutive starts entering 2013. She broke KU’s single-season attack percentage record (.386) and finished the season with 424 kills and 157 blocks, making her the only Jayhawk to surpass 400 kills and 150 blocks in the same season. Her efforts helped Kansas advance to the NCAA Tournament, where the team won its first round match-up in Allen Fieldhouse.

Lindsay Vollmer (Hamilton, Mo.)
Vollmer logged personal bests in six of the seven events and scored 6,086 points – 442 points better than her previous top total – to claim the NCAA Outdoor heptathlon title. Vollmer’s points helped Kansas secure its first ever women’s team NCAA title. Vollmer had previously won a Big 12 Outdoor Championship in the heptathlon.

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