Hoppel and Rychagova highlight list of winners at Rock Chalk Choice Awards

LAWRENCE, Kan.— Kansas men’s cross country and track & field athlete Bryce Hoppel and KU tennis student Anastasia Rychagova were awarded the 2018-19 Male and Female Athletes of the Year, respectively, at the eighth annual Rock Chalk Choice Awards on Sunday. Hoppel and Rychagova highlighted the list of eight award winners along with the recognition of the biggest stars of the 2018-19 Kansas Athletics season.

"It is an incredible honor. I want to emphasize that it wasn't just me out there it was everyone that put the effort and time and love into me that made me hit my stride and accomplish what I did."

Bryce Hoppel

Hoppel’s season was capped off by becoming a national champion in the 800-meter in both the indoor and outdoor track season as well as finishing his final collegiate season a perfect 19-0. Hoppel’s reception of the honor marks the fourth time a men’s track & field athlete has taken home the award and the first since Michael Stingler in 2015.

Rychagova’s senior season was highlighted by leading the Jayhawks to a Big 12 Championship and being awarded the Central Region Senior Player of the Year and named to the All-American First Team. Her Female Athlete of the Year nod gives tennis its first-ever recipient of the award.

Following the red carpet entrance and reception, the show kicked off with the presentation for the Jayhawker Award, which is presented to the athlete that has exhibited a commitment to Kansas principles and demonstrated mental toughness in the face of adversity and competition while making a positive contribution to Kansas Athletics. This year’s recipient was volleyball’s Patricia Montero.

"I am super honored to have received this award. I am beyond blessed to be a part of Jayhawk nation. The support that they give us is honestly unbelievable. Super happy to be here. Rock Chalk."

Patricia Montero

Next up was the start of the night’s academic awards and accomplishments. First was the Dr. Gerald Lage Award which serves as the Big 12 Conference’s highest academic honor and is given to those who have a cumulative GPA of 3.8 or higher and have earned at least 100 credit hours. This year’s recipients were:

Emily Bermel Softball
Taylor Christie Soccer
Ariadna Fonseca Diaz Women’s Golf
Kelly Koenigsma Rowing
Morgan Kottas Rowing
Lisa Lauschke Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Chris Melgares Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Patricia Montero Volleyball
Liana Ochoa Rowing
Megan Paule Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Taylor Sieperda Swimming & Diving
Riley Varuska Rowing

The ceremony then moved on to recognize the Academic All-Americans. This year’s Academic All-Americans were:

Charlie Hillier Men's Golf
Andy Spencer Men's Golf
Ariadna Fonseca Diaz Women's Golf
London Acree Rowing
Reese Arnold Rowing
Shannon Cody Rowing
Lauren Fee Rowing
Jayrn Folk Rowing
Kelly Koenigsman Rowing
Morgan Kottas Rowing
Liana Ochoa Rowing
Lilly Stewart Rowing
Riley Varuska Rowing
Elizabeth Amato-Hanner Swimming & Diving
Crissie Blomquist Swimming & Diving
Peri Charapich Swimming & Diving
Haley Downey Swimming & Diving
Manon Manning Swimming & Diving
Jenny Nusbaum Swimming & Diving
Kate Steward Swimming & Diving
Nina Khmelnitckaia Swimming & Diving
Janet Koch Swimming & Diving
Sonia Smagina Swimming & Diving

Following the Academic All-Americans was the winner of the top team GPA award. The award was given to the swimming and diving team after it set a new school record for overall team GPA with a 3.69 finish.

The academics section of the event concluded with the presentation of the Del Shankel Teaching Excellence Award which is given to an outstanding member of the faculty at the University of Kansas. This year’s recipient was Susan Michelle Stagg-Williams.

Next up on the night was the Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role presentation. The award was presented to the athlete who best demonstrated extraordinary sportsmanship, support and loyalty to teammates and Kansas Athletics. This year’s winner was tennis’ Nina Khmelnitckaia.

"Honestly, it is an incredible honor to win this award. I am just so happy."

Nina Khmelnitckaia

Football’s Mike Lee then received the Crimson Climb. The award honors a student-athlete who overcame challenges and exceeded academic expectations to serve as an inspiration to others.

The ceremony continued with the presentation for the True Blue Award, which is given to the student-athlete that best demonstrates an ability to excel in academics and athletics while advancing the mission of Kansas Athletics on campus and in the community. This year’s recipient of the award was women’s track and field athlete Riley Cooney.

"This is just one of the most fun nights of the year. KU leads does such a good job of putting it on. It is so fun to get dressed up and reflect. I am just so grateful to be a part of this athletic department. So many wonderful people have invested in me and invested in my teammates."

Riley Cooney

The True Blue Award was followed up with the presentation of the 2018-19 Athletic All-Americans. This year’s Athletic All-Americans were:

Athletic All-Americans:

Dedric Lawson Men’s Basketball
Hussain Al Hizam Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Zach Bradford Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Gleb Dudarev Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Treyvon Ferguson Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Bryce Hoppel Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Rylee Anderson Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Riley Cooney Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Honour Finley Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Alexandra Emilianov Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Marleena Eubanks Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Sharon Lokedi Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Nicole Montgomery Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Ally Ryan Women’s Cross Country/Track & Field
Joe Dineen Jr. Football
Vicky Xu Swimming & Diving
Nina Khmelnitckaia Tennis
Janet Koch Tennis
Anastasia Rychagova Tennis

The final awards of the night were for the Male and Female Athletes of the Year before concluding with the Rock Chalk Moment of the Year. This award was decided by those in attendance at the event who texted in their choice for the winner. And after the final votes were cast, the moment of the year was given to men’s track and field’s Hoppel winning the 800m Outdoor National Championship.