Mawson, seniors honored at Jayhawk Senior Celebration
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas recognized some of its top previous and current student-athletes and presented the 2018 class of 93 graduating seniors their K Rings at the Senior Celebration inside the Kansas Union Monday night. Dr. Marlene Mawson, a former Kansas coach and administrator for 22 years and 2009 inductee into the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame, was presented with the K Club Lifetime Service Award, while four Kansas seniors garnered top student-athlete honors.
Monday’s ceremony opened with the presentation of the K Rings, which were distributed by K Club representatives from each Kansas sport as student-athletes were announced by their coaches.
Madison Rigdon (volleyball) and Nicolai Ceban (men’s track & field) were named Kansas’ Dr. Robert Frederick Senior Scholar Athletes of the Year, while Laura Taylor (women’s track & field) and Nick Giusti (men’s track & field), were presented with the Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship during the ceremony, which followed a reception inside the Union Ballroom.
Mawson, who was presented with the award recognizing her dedication and service to Kansas Athletics and commitment to the K Club mission, came to KU 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, and coached four of the six original women’s sports teams 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 Kansa Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. She also served as the representative to the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women for 10 years.
Rigdon and Ceban were recognized as the top senior scholar-athletes and given the award named for Robert E. Frederick, former Director of Athletics and Professor at the University of Kansas. The award, presented by Dr. Bernie Kish, pays tribute to Dr. Frederick’s dedication to excellence at KU and was named in his honor when he retired as the Director of Athletics in 2001.
Rigdon will graduate with a degree in exercise science and currently carries a 3.34 GPA. She has been named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll five times, recognized as an Academic All-Big 12 team member three times, and plans to attend the University of Arizona this fall to play beach volleyball and pursue a master’s degree.
On the court, Rigdon is a two-time All-America Honorable Mention honoree and a three-time All-Big 12 selection. She was part of an unprecedented era of success for Kansas volleyball that included appearances in the 2015 NCAA Final Four and the program’s first-ever Big 12 title in 2016.
Ceban carries a 3.68 GPA in the economics program and has been named the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll five times. He has also been recognized as an Academic All-Big 12 First Team member twice and was honored as an Academic All-American in 2016.
As a thrower for the Jayhawk track & field team, Ceban is a seven-time All-America honoree including one first team bid, four second team nods and two honorable mentions. He also won the 2017 Big 12 Indoor title in the shot put.
To honor the lifetime service of Prentice Gautt, the late Associate Commissioner of the Big 12, the conference established 24 postgraduate scholarships to be awarded to two seniors from each institution who have demonstrated their commitment to excellence in academics and have pledged to continue their education in graduate school. Taylor and Giusti were presented the award Monday by Paul Buskirk, associate athletics director for student-athlete support services, along with faculty athletics representative, Dr. Susan Stagg-Williams.
Taylor is a two-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree, a seven-time Athletic Director’s Honor Roll member and a three-time Academic All-American. She achieved this excellence in the classroom as an exercise science major, maintaining a 3.92 GPA. This year, Taylor received the Outstanding Woman Student-Athlete Award, presented by the University of Kanas’ Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity. She also received the Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Achievement Award.
Taylor has been instrumental in the competitive growth and success of the track & field team, She is the 2018 Big 12 Indoor pole vault champion and a First Team All-American. She is also a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee where she held the position of Marketing Chair. She plans to attend Physician Assistants school in the fall of 2018.
Giusti will graduate with a 3.83 GPA as an exercise science/pre-medicine major. He is a seven-time Athletic Director’s Honor Roll member and a two-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree. Giusti also received the Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Achievement Award.
On the track, Giusti has recorded three top-eight finishes at Big 12 Conference meets in the 110 and 400-meter hurdles. He was also a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is one of the Big 12 SAAC representatives for KU.
Giusti will attend the University of Kansas School of Medicine in the fall of 2018.
Kansas senior baseball pitcher and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President Casey Douglas gave the senior address, stating, “The K Ring represents every tear, every drop of sweat we put in during our five, four, three or two years here at this university. Every trial, every triumph, every tribulation, we experienced in our athletic, academic and social life.
“While we all may come from different places, different backgrounds, different states, and different countries, we share one common experience, and that is that we are all Jayhawks. This is what makes receiving the K Ring so special, this is what makes the Jayhawk community so special.”
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