Saving the Best for Last; Top Moment, Athlete Nominees Announced
LAWRENCE, Kan. – An unmatched, dynastic string of conference titles, a pair of deep runs through the NCAA Tournament, and a top performance in program history are all among the Rock Chalk Choice Awards nominees for Moment of the Year, as the committee revealed its final and finest list of nominees for the Sept. 7 event at the Lied Center of Kansas.
Saving the best for last, the committee selected men’s basketball running its streak of consecutive Big 12 Conference titles to 10; volleyball appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the second-consecutive year and advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16; women’s golf making a run through the NCAA Regional and into the NCAA Championship Tournament field; and swimming and diving’s highest finish at the conference meet behind a Big 12 Championship performance from Chelsie Miller and Coach of the Year honors for Clark Campbell to close the slate of event nominees along with the finalists for the finest individual performances of the previous school year – the Male and Female Athletes of the Year.
All four Moment of the Year nominees represent historical achievements for their respective programs, and included personal contributions from several of the nominees for Male and Female Athlete of the Year. Casey Bowen (track & field), Frank Duncan (baseball), James Sims (football), Michael Stigler (track & field) and Andrew Wiggins (men’s basketball) were selected as nominees for Male Athlete of the Year. The nominees for Female Athlete of the Year are Sydney Conley (track & field), Yupaporn Kawinpakorn (golf), Caroline Jarmoc (volleyball), Jessica Maroszek (track & field) and swimming and diving’s Miller.
Bowen kept KU’s strong vaulting tradition alive when he became the fourth Jayhawk in eight years to claim the Big 12 crown in the pole vault by clearing 5.49 meters (18′) – his second time over the prestigious mark during the 2014 season.
Duncan struck out a team-high 82 batters in a league-leading 118 and two-third innings pitched, while posting a 2.58 ERA in 16 starts to help Kansas return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.
The Big 12’s leading rusher in conference games (92.1 yards per game), Sims became the first Kansas player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons and busted loose for a career-best 211 yards and three scores to help lift Kansas to a league win over West Virginia.
Stigler, who claimed last year’s title as Male Athlete of the Year, continued his winning ways in 2014 with a third-consecutive Big 12 title in the 400-meter hurdles as well as First Team All-America honors with a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championship meet.
Wiggins became KU’s second-ever No. 1 selection in the NBA Draft after setting the Kansas freshman single-season scoring record with 597 points, topping a record previously held by Danny Manning and more recently Ben McLemore, while earning Second Team All-America honors.
On the women’s side, Conley leaped to First Team All-America honors in the long jump at both the indoor and outdoor NCAA Championships during a breakout sophomore campaign that also saw her qualify for the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) U23 Championships.
Kansas women’s golf used 33-of-36 rounds from Kawinpakorn towards the team total throughout the 2013-14 campaign as she led the team with a 74.46 scoring average and claimed three top five tournament finishes while helping KU advance to the NCAA Championship Tournament.
The first two-time AVCA Division I All-American in Kansas history, Jarmoc finished her career first in the Kansas volleyball record book with a .327 career hitting percentage and second all-time with 1,333 kills and 1,769 points while guiding the Jayhawks to back-to-back NCAA appearances, including last year’s historic run to the Sweet 16.
Maroszek earned First Team All-America honors in discus for the third time in her career – only the second Jayhawk thrower to ever three-peat – with a sixth place finish at the national meet, following a memorable Big 12 Championship where she set school and meet records.
Miller became the swimming and diving team’s first Big 12 champion with the top finish in the 200-yard individual medley and went on to become KU’s first All-American in four years by finishing amongst the leaders in the 400-yard individual medley at the NCAA Championships. Miller helped Kansas to its highest finish at the Big 12 Championships while taking part in three record-breaking performances and earned Swimmer of the Meet honors.
Following a red-carpet entrance and a reception in the Lied Center lobby, accolades in seven different categories – Jayhawker Award, Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role, The Crimson Climb Award, True Blue Award, Rock Chalk Moment Award, and Male and Female Athlete of the Year – will be unveiled and special student-athlete academic achievements will be recognized during the ceremony in the Lied Center Auditorium. As in years past, due to space limitations at the Lied Center, the event is by invitation only and limited to athletic department staff, student-athletes and their families, KU faculty and selected dignitaries.
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