Nominees for Athletes of the Year Awards announced by RCCA committee
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The 2016-17 athletic year proved to be one for the ages for Kansas Athletics. From conference championships to All-Americans, the Jayhawks were well represented in the national spotlight. The best of the best among the student-athlete body will be announced at the sixth annual Rock Chalk Choice Awards on September 10 at the Lied Center of Kansas, with the Female and Male Athlete of the Year awards.
The crowning of the top female and male Kansas Jayhawks will cap an evening that begins with a red-carpet entrance and a reception in the Lied Center lobby, followed by an awards show during which top honors 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.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Grace Hagan (Soccer) – An All-Big 12 and All-Region First Team honoree in 2016, Hagan was the KU soccer team’s top scorer with seven goals and four assists. Her heroics helped lead the Jayhawks to a second-place finish in the Big 12 regular-season race and to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Sharon Lokedi (Cross Country/Track & Field) – The first individual Big 12 women’s cross country champion in Kansas history, Loekdi also became the first women’s two-time cross country All-American by finishing fifth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Taking a redshirt season in indoor track, Lokedi performed at an extremely high level in the outdoor season, breaking school records in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. Lokedi was the Big 12 Outdoor Champion in both events, and placed third in the nation in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships to earn First Team All-America honors.
Anastasia Rychagova (Tennis) – Tallied an impressive 25-8 overall singles record at the No. 1 spot, including going 14-4 in spring play, while earning 2017 All-Big 12 Singles First Team and Academic All-Big 12 First Team accolades and leading the Jayhawks to back-to-back NCAA appearances for the first time since 1998 and 1999.
Sammie Schurig (Swimming & Diving) – A captain on the 2016-17 swimming & diving team that finished second at the Big 12 Swimming & Diving Championship with a program-best 683.5 points. Schurig was an Academic All-Big 12 First Team honoree and earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors with lifetime swims in the 200-yard freestyle, 500-yard freestyle and 200-yard backstroke.
Cassie Wait (Volleyball) – Named Big 12 Libero of the Year, Big 12 Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, AVCA All-America Honorable Mention, All-Big 12 First Team, AVCA All-Midwest Region and CoSIDA Academic All-District in her senior season at Kansas. Wait finished her collegiate career with 104 victories and the program’s best four-year winning percentage (.819). She finished her career second in digs at Kansas with 1,958.
Jessica Washington (Women’s Basketball) – Named Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year after leading the league in scoring with 19.3 points per game during Big 12 play. On the season, Washington averaged 17.0 points per game behind 34.3 shooting percentage and 35.5 percentage from long distance. Washington recorded 20 or more points 10 times during the season and 30 or more twice.
The Female Athlete of the Year will receive her award from former Kansas track & field standout Denesha Morris.
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
Dorance Armstrong Jr. (Football) – A unanimous selection to the All-Big 12 First Team after tallying 10.0 sacks on the season, the most by a Jayhawk since 2008. Armstrong finished the 2016 season with 20.0 tackles for loss, ranking him fifth on KU’s single-season list. His TFL total ranked fifth in FBS for the season. He was also named Athlon Sports Big 12 Conference Breakout Player of the Year.
Gleb Dudarev (Track & Field) – Earned First Team All-America honors in the weight throw by finishing sixth at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championship with a mark of 21.97 meters. Dudarev broke the Kansas men’s hammer throw record, twice, including once at the Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships where he went on to win the event. He finished the season with a First Team All-America honor by placing third at the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a mark of 73.44 meters.
Chase Hanna (Men’s Golf) – Hanna, from Leawood, Kansas, competed in all 13 events during his storied senior season and set the program standard for scoring average (71.10), highest individual national ranking (27), par or better rounds (27), birdies in a season (151) and the lowest round (61 in the second round at the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic).
Frank Mason III (Men’s Basketball) – One of the most prolific players in Jayhawk history, the Petersburg, Virginia product was the unanimous National Player of the Year, winner of the Oscar Robertson Trophy and the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year. He was also an All-America First Team honoree, Big 12 Player of the Year and an All-Big 12 First Teamer. He became the only player in KU and Big 12 history to average more than 20 points and five assists in the same season.
Stephen Villines (Baseball) – Earned All-Big 12 First Team honors by posting the best ERA among relievers (2.70) in a team-high 32 appearances on the mound. Villines became KU’s all-time saves leader with 40 throughout is career, including 14 his senior season. Following his senior campaign, Villines was drafted in the 10th round (307th overall) of the MLB Draft by the New York Mets.
The Male Athlete of the Year Award will be presented by Kansas men’s basketball great, Wayne Simien.
Following a red-carpet entrance that will be streamed live on the Kansas Athletics Facebook Page and a reception in the Lied Center lobby, accolades in five additional categories – Jayhawker Award, True Blue Award, Crimson Climb, Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role and Rock Chalk Moment Award – will be unveiled and special student-athlete academic achievements will be recognized during the ceremony on September 10.
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 selected KU faculty and dignitaries. Winners of every award will be interviewed backstage by former Kansas women’s basketball player Jada Brown, which will be live on the KU Leads Instagram page.
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