Finalists for the 2022-23 Marlene Mawson Exemplary Woman Athlete Award Announced

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Seniors Rylee Anderson, Mackenzie Bravence, Haleigh Harper, Holly Kersgieter and Rachel Langs were named the 2022-23 Marlene Mawson Exemplary Woman Athlete Award Finalists on National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Wednesday.

The Marlene Mawson Exemplary Woman Athlete Award is presented to a senior female student-athlete who is a fierce competitor in the classroom and the field of play. She also must have played an integral role on her respective team while demonstrating strong character and leadership qualities.

Anderson is a member of the track and field team, where she is a three-time Big 12 champion in high jump, twice indoor and once outdoor. She also holds the indoor school record for high jump. Anderson received her undergraduate degree in exercise science with a minor in healthcare management, accumulating a GPA of 3.68. She is currently pursuing courses for physician assistant (PA) school.

Bravence is a captain on the swimming and diving team and president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She has been named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team twice, earning the honor every year she has been eligible. She was a part of the second-place 200-yard medley relay team at the 2022 Big 12 Championship. Bravence has also won the Courtwright Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence, which recognizes undergraduate students with majors in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences whose research and creative work stand to make meaningful contributions to their fields of study. Bravence is majoring in speech-language-hearing with a minor in applied behavioral science, maintaining a 4.0 GPA throughout her career at KU.

Harper is a two-time captain of the softball team, where she has earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors both years she was eligible. Last season, Harper batted .253, with 14 RBIs and six stolen bases. She also had six sacrifice bunts, the third most in the Big 12. Harper is majoring in exercise science, building a GPA of 3.20.

Kersgieter is a three-year starter on the women’s basketball team. The Sand Springs, Oklahoma native has earned several career honors, including being named to the 2021-22 All-Big 12 First Team to become the first Jayhawk to earn First Team honors since 2015. She was also named to the 2021-22 Academic All-Big 12 Second Team. Last season, Kersgieter helped the Jayhawks to the largest single-season win improvement in program history, as the team returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.  She currently ranks 16th on the Kansas all-time career scoring list with 1,364 points and has made 178 three-pointer field goals, the fifth most all-time at Kansas. Kersgieter is majoring in strategic communications with a minor in business, accumulating a GPA of 3.23.

Langs was a member of the volleyball team, where she was a four-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team recipient. She played in 127 matches during her Kansas career, tied for the most in program history. Langs also had 533 career blocks, which is third all-time in Kansas history. During the 2022 season, Langs tallied 173 kills in 393 total attempts, finishing third on the team with a 30.5 hitting percentage. She also led the team in blocks, finishing with 106 block assists and 18 solo blocks. Langs is in the speech-language pathology graduate program, earning a GPA of 3.97.

Dr. Marlene Mawson came to the University of Kansas in 1968 as a full-time physical education instructor, with the added responsibility of initiating an intercollegiate women’s sports program under the umbrella of the KU Physical Education department. During her early tenure, Marlene coached four of the six original women’s sports teams: basketball, volleyball, softball and field hockey, on a budget of only $2,000. Her impact spread beyond the lucky women who received her coaching at the University of Kansas, as Mawson was elected Secretary and then President of the Kansas Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. She also served as the representative to the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women for 10 years. Mawson was a professor and administrator at KU for 22 years. She was inducted into the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009 for her contributions to women’s athletics.

The winner of the 2022-23 Marlene Mawson Exemplary Woman Athlete Award will be announced Feb. 4 at the women’s basketball game vs. Texas.