Lockwood, seniors honored at Jayhawk Senior Celebration

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas recognized some of its top previous and current student-athletes and presented the 2017 class of 109 graduating seniors their K Rings at the Senior Celebration inside the Kansas Union Monday night. Bob Lockwood, a former Kansas student-athlete, coach, basketball bench crew volunteer and K Club Board of Directors member whose service to the department spanned over 40 years, was presented with the K Club Lifetime Service Award, while four Kansas 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.
Gardner, Kansas product Cassie Wait (volleyball) and Leawood, Kansas native Chase Hanna (men’s golf) were named Kansas’ Dr. Robert Frederick Senior Scholar Athletes of the Year, while volleyball’s Tayler Soucie of Osawatomie, Kansas, and track and field’s Chris Melgares of Manhattan, Kansas, were presented with the Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship during the ceremony, which followed a reception inside the Union Ballroom.

Lockwood, who was presented with the award recognizing his dedication and service to Kansas Athletics and commitment to the K Club mission, was a four-year letterwinner on the Kansas men’s gymnastics team and went on to coach five different sports for the Jayhawks. His coaching career began with the men’s gymnastics team, serving as the head coach from 1963-79. During that time, Lockwood took on many other coaching roles, including assisting the Kansas divers from 1964-65, coaching the men’s wrestling team in 1694-65, and serving as the head men’s tennis coach from 1971-72. Following the end of his tenure as the men’s gymnastics coach, Lockwood served as the head volleyball coach from 1979-84. In addition to juggling his varsity teams, he served as the Intramural Sports Director from 1964-73 and taught as a Health, Sports and Exercise Science professor from 1964-2001.

After finishing his career as the head coach of the Jayhawk volleyball program, Lockwood went on to serve as the director of the Kansas School of Gymnastics from 1985-2002. Lockwood was inducted into the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001, is an honorary lifetime member of K Club and recently served as President of the K Club Board of Directors.

Wait and Hanna 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 along with Dr. Frederick’s son, Chris Frederick, 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.

Wait enjoyed a successful career in the Crimson and Blue both on and off the volleyball court. Graduating in just three years with a degree in finance, Wait began KU Law School during her senior season and currently carries a 3.90 GPA.

Named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll seven times, Wait has also been recognized as an Academic All-Big 12 team member three times, and was honored as the Big 12 Volleyball Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2016. On the court, she earned AVCA All-American Honorable Mention and AVCA All-Midwest Region First Team honors as well as being named the 2016 Big 12 Libero of the Year.

Her competitive drive helped Wait leader her team to four-consecutive postseason appearances, a Big 12 championship in 2016 and an appearance in the NCAA Volleyball Final Four in 2015, each of which marked the first of their kind for the KU volleyball program.

Hanna’s recognition comes just five days after taking the Big 12 Men’s Golf Individual Championship and leading the team to a third-place finish, the highest for the program since 2000. Hanna never missed an event during his career at Kansas and was named the 2013 Kansas Golf Association Player of the Year and won the Kansas Amateur.

Off the links, Hanna excelled in the classroom, posting a 3.68 GPA in the Business Administration and Entrepreneurship program. He has been named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll seven times and has been recognized as an Academic All-Big 12 First Team member three times, as well as being honored as an Academic All-American twice.

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. Soucie and Melgares 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.

Soucie, a three-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree and a seven-time Athletic Director’s Honor Roll member, achieved excellence in the classroom as an Exercise Science major, maintaining a 3.70 GPA. In 2017, she received the Marlene Mawson Exemplary Student-Athlete Award, which is given to a female student-athlete who achieve excellence in her sport, in the classroom and in the community. She was also named the Female Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year and is an active member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, where she held the position of Community Outreach Chair and served as KU’s 2016 Big 12 SAAC representative.

On the court, Soucie was instrumental in the Jayhawks’ success over the past four seasons, earning All-Big 12 First Team honors twice. She was a member of the first-ever KU volleyball Big 12 Championship team this season, as well as helping Kansas to its first Final Four in program history.

Soucie will further her academic career at Union College Physician’s Assistants school starting in Fall of 2017.

Melgares will graduate early with a 3.98 GPA as an Exercise Science major. As a junior member of the track and field team, he is already a five-time Athletic Director’s Honor Roll member and a two-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree. In 2016, Melgares was named the Big 12 Men’s Cross Country Scholar Athlete of the Year and received the Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Achievement Award in 2017, which is considered the highest academic award given by the Big 12.

Establishing himself as one of the top runners for the 2016-17 Kansas men’s cross country team, Melgares was among the Jayhawks’ top two scorers in four meets and claimed a victory in the 5K at the Rod McCravy Memorial in Lexington, Kentucky. Currently Melgares is tanked in the top-50 for all NCAA runners in the 10K.

Melgares plans to attend graduate school next year at the University of Kansas while still competing for the Jayhawks.

Kansas senior rower Maddie Irelan presented the senior address, noting how even though coming in as timid freshmen wondering how they would make an impact on the university, the 109 student-athletes stayed true to their hearts and fully succeeded in representing the Crimson and Blue, and will continue to do so in their future endeavors.

“As we sit here, surrounded by people who were once strangers, who are now our best friends, we probably have some of the same feelings we did on our first day as Jayhawks,” Irelan said. “Although our senior year is coming to an end, we are far from finished. We will leave the place that we called home for four years and join an impressive and elite group of Jayhawk alumni.”

Former track and field athlete David Johnston reitereated the connection that each Jayhawk shares when receiving the K Ring. The ceremony is two-fold to signify the conclusion of their collegiate athletic career while introducing the prospective graduate as a new member of the Jayhawk family, reinforcing the Kansas Athletics message of “Once a Jayhawk, Always a Jayhawk.”

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