Fifty-one Jayhawks Named to Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team

Document:Big 12 Release and Full List (.pdf)

LAWRENCE, Kansas – Kansas distance runner Chris Melgares is at least aware of the snooze button on his alarm clock, but don’t get any ideas about him using it frequently. The academically and athletically gifted student-athlete balanced a hectic schedule while earning a perfect 4.0 grade point average in his first season at Kansas, and was one of 51 Jayhawk freshmen honored as members of the All-Big 12 Rookie Team, announced by the league Thursday. Kansas had the second-most honorees behind Oklahoma (60) as a total of 407 Big 12 freshmen were recognized.  

Melgares, a scoring member of the cross country team in all five events and a member of the Jayhawks’ squad at the 2015 Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships, was one of three Kansas freshmen and 38 Big 12 student-athletes with 4.0 GPAs. Hannah Driscoll (swimming and diving) and Lauren Pickens (tennis) also made straight A’s in their debut school year as Jayhawks.

“A lot of kids don’t make school a priority so it’s easy to fall into that pressure and pretty easy to just hit the snooze button and not go to class at 8 a.m.,” Melgares said. “I think that’s just part of living a life that is focused on excelling at everything you do. If you’re making the choice to slack in school, it makes it that much easier to slack in other areas of your life, like the sport you perform in. It’s best to try to be as consistent across the board in everything you do.”

The Manhattan, Kansas, native couldn’t have been any more consistent in the classroom while beginning an academic journey he hopes results in a physical therapy career, all while running an average of 70-75 miles per week during the cross country and track seasons. His course load and training regimen don’t allow for much free time.

“The hardest part is setting a routine and trying to be consistent with that routine because friends are always asking to go out and do stuff, and there are going to be times where you are going to have to say, ‘No, I have to work on school right now’,” Melgares said. “Running is a big priority to me and that’s going to suffer if I choose to slack in other aspects of my life. The hardest part is having to make that sacrifice consistently.”

Driscoll, from Niwot, Colorado, contributed to Kansas’ third-place finish at the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships as a sprinter and Pickens, from Owasso, Oklahoma, was part of a foundational season for Kansas tennis, including winning on a Senior Day sweep of in-state rival Kansas State. Driscoll was quick to credit the student-athlete support services available to all Jayhawks.

“There were definitely challenges throughout the year,” Driscoll said. “There were difficult classes that I would miss for swim meets or other athletic engagements, but really I couldn’t ask for better support from the teachers, staff and coaches across the board. The challenges that I faced definitely made me stronger athletically and academically, and I couldn’t do it without the support at KU.”

Nominated by each institution’s director of student-athlete support services, student-athletes on the Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team must be new, first-time/incoming freshmen that have completed 24 semester hours of non-remedial coursework and achieved a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00. Additionally, the student-athlete must have participated in at least one of their team’s scheduled contests and must have been a member of their respective team for their sport’s entire NCAA Championship segment. The Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team was introduced in the 2012-13 academic year. Texas (48), Oklahoma State (45) and Baylor (41) all joined OU and Kansas with 40 or more selections.

KU’s 50 student-athletes were also recognized earlier in the week as part of 56 percent of Kansas’ active rosters who earned Athletics Director’s Honor Roll recognition in a combined department effort that produced a 3.0 cumulative GPA. Kansas student-athletes have also contributed to favorable Academic Progress Rate (APR) numbers released by the NCAA that show all Jayhawk programs were in good standing above 930, based on the latest data from the 2013-14 class and last year’s school record 85 percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR) and 82 percent single-year GSR. The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.

2015 Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team – Kansas Honorees
Student-Athlete Sport Major Hometown
Brandon Johnson Baseball Communication Studies Las Vegas, Nev.
Matt McLaughlin Baseball Business San Jose, Calif.
Blake Weiman Baseball Physical Education Wheat Ridge, Colo.
Lauren Aldridge Basketball Political Science Marshfield, Mo.
Terriell Bradley Basketball Accounting Grand Prairie, Texas
Chayla Cheadle Basketball Sociology Columbia, Mo.
Kelly Oubre Basketball Undecided New Orleans, La.
Josh Pollard Basketball Business Cedar Hills, Utah
Joe Dineen Football Pre-Business Lawrence, Kan.
Gary Daoust Golf Undecided Apopka, Fla.
Kallie Gonzalez Golf Engineering Montgomery, Texas
Daniel Hudson Golf Undecided LaGrange, Ill.
Spencer Painton Golf Communication Studies Aurora, Colo.
MacKenzie Sexe Golf Business Savage, Minn.
Angie Allen Rowing Exercise Science Nixa, Mo.
Bailey Coolidge Rowing Unified Early Childhood Education Round Rock, Texas
BriAnna Dittberner Rowing Pre-Pharmacy Topeka, Kan.
Daisy Tackett Rowing Political Science & History Jacksonville, Fla.
Kailey Tennant Rowing Journalism O’Fallon, Mo.
Kaelyn Thierolf Rowing History & Government Education Marion, Kan.
Hannah Lukinac Soccer Education Olathe, Kan.
Erin McGinley Softball Business: Marketing Praire Village, Kan.
Amanda Organ Softball Sport Management Houston, Texas
Jessie Roane Softball Business: Accounting Rio Rancho, N.M.
Hannah Driscoll Swimming & Diving Exercise Science Niwot, Colo.
Nika Fellows Swimming & Diving Human Biology Albuquerque, N.M.
Madison Hutchison Swimming & Diving Undecided Wichita, Kan.
Nadia Khechfe Swimming & Diving Communication Studies Lincoln, Neb.
Anna Peirano Swimming & Diving Journalism Alamo, Calif.
Lydia Pocisk Swimming & Diving Pre-Medicine Dayton, Ohio
Sydney Power Swimming & Diving Biology Tampa, Fla.
Madison Straight Swimming & Diving Business Fort Worth, Texas
Madison Harrison Tennis Pre-Med Bradenton, Fla.
Rachel McNeely Tennis Mechanical Engineering Westminster, S.C.
Lauren Pickens Tennis Chemical Engineering Owasso, Okla.
Ben Burchstead Track Business Overland Park, Kan.
Dorie Dalzell Track Business Sammamish, Wash.
Jack McDonald Track Business Fairway, Kan.
Chris Melgares Track Exercise Science Manhattan, Kan.
Alexis Romero Track Exercise Science Reno, Nev.
Alaina Schroeder Track Human Biology Manhattan, Kan.
Laura Taylor Track Exercise Science Tualatin, Ore.
Carson Vickroy Track Atmospheric Science Coppell, Texas
Ezekiel Welch Track Sports Science Wichita, Kan.
Addison Barry Volleyball Community Health/Pre-Nursing Topeka, Kan.
Claire Carpenter Volleyball Community Health/Pre-Nursing Rockwall, Texas
Kayla Cheadle Volleyball Sport Management Columbia, Mo.
Ainise Havili Volleyball Exercise Science Haltom City, Texas
Tori Miller Volleyball Exercise Science Derby, Kan.
Madison Rigdon Volleyball Exercise Science Round Rock, Texas
*Nick Giusti Track Exercise Science Wichita, Kan.