Lokedi, Mason named Athletes of the Year at sixth annual Rock Chalk Choice Awards

LAWRENCE, Kan. – A Big 12 individual cross country title and All-American in both cross country and outdoor track and field, and the men’s basketball consensus National Player of the Year and First Team All-American took home KU’s Female and Male Athlete of the Year awards as Sharon Lokedi and Frank Mason III claimed the highest individual honors at the sixth annual Rock Chalk Choice Awards. The Academy Awards-like event, held in the Lied Center on Sunday evening, also crowned football’s thrilling defeat of Texas as the Rock Chalk Moment of the Year via audience vote.

“It is an honor to receive the Female Athlete of the Year award,” Lokedi said. “This is one of those things that pushes you to work hard and continue to try to get better. Now I am going to keep working at it and hope for more success this year.”

Lokedi’s successful 2016-17 campaign included becoming the first women’s Big 12 Individual Cross Country Champion in Kansas history, the first two-time Cross Country All-American, setting school records in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters in outdoor track and earning First Team All-America honors for a third-place finish in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Championships.

Mason became the most decorated player in Kansas men’s basketball history by putting together a list of accomplishments and accolades that seems to never end. He became the only player in KU and Big 12 history to average more than 20 points and five assists in the same season, and led the Big 12 in scoring (20.9 ppg). Mason was named National Player of the Year by 10 different entities, and was the first Jayhawk to be named Associated Press Player of the Year, the Oscar Robertson Trophy recipient and win the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award.

Following a red carpet entrance and reception event, the show began with the presentation of the Jayhawker Award, presented in honor of the pioneers who held true to their values through hardship while founding the state of Kansas. This year’s recipient was baseball’s Blake Weiman.

Academic accomplishments were recognized after the presentation of the night’s first award, including senior scholar athletes, the Robert E. Frederick Senior Scholar Athletes of the Year, Big 12’s Dr. Gerald Lage Award, members of the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll and the Best Overall Team GPA, the latter which went to men’s golf with a 3.55 team GPA. This year’s Del Shankel Teaching Excellence Award, presented by Del Shankel, Casey Douglas (baseball) and Josh Ehambe (football) was given to Joe Walden.

Football’s Reese Randall was named the Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role, which is presented to the athlete who best demonstrates extraordinary sportsmanship, support and loyalty to teammates and Kansas Athletics.

The Crimson Climb Award went to baseball’s Rudy Karre, who broke the Kansas record for number of hit by pitches in a single season last year and overcame challenges and exceeded academic expectations to serve as an inspiration to others.

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, is given the True Blue Award. This year’s winner was football’s Jeremiah Booker.

The final awards of the night were the Female and Male Athlete of the Year awards, followed by the top moment from the 2016-17 athletic year. Video vignettes highlighted the nominees for the Moment of the Year that were shown throughout the night’s show before the audience vote to determine the winner.

Football’s 24-21 overtime victory against Texas last season marked the first time Kansas defeated the Longhorns since 1938, a 78-year drought. Down 21-10 in the fourth quarter, the Jayhawks orchestrated an 80-yard drive to score with 7:48 remaining in the game to score a touchdown and a two-point conversion to come within three points, before Matthew Wyman drilled a 36-yard field goal to tie the game and ultimately send it to overtime. Wyman played the hero again by sending home a 25-yard field goal in overtime to give the Jayhawks the monumental victory.

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