Male and Female Athletes of the Year nominees revealed

LAWRENCE-Kan. — The Rock Chalk Choice Awards committee has released the nominations for the Male and Female Athletes of the Year on Thursday, Sept. 5. The winners for these along with six other awards will be announced at the Rock Chalk Choice Awards event on September 8.

Capping off the red-carpet event will be the crowning of the top male and female Kansas athletes of the year. These will be the final awards given on the night following the recognition of the student-athlete academic achievements and the winners of the other six awards—True Blue Award, Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role, Crimson Climb Award, Jayhawker Award, Del Shankel Award and the Rock Chalk Moment of the Year Award.

Presenting these awards will be Kansas alumni Andrea Norris (Geubelle) and Don Czyz.


Alexandra Emilianov (women’s track & field)—Emilianov was crowned the 2019 Moldova National Champion in discus and was named to the 2019 Outdoor All-American first team. She holds the Kansas outdoor discus school record with a distance of 60.24 meters (197.6 feet). Emilianov was named the 2019 Outdoor Big 12 discus champion and achieved the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championship standard. Additionally, she was named to the 2019 Academic All-Big 12 Second Team.

Grace Hagan (soccer)—Hagan was awarded the 2019 Big 12 Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She was named to the All-Big 12 First Team and was a National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-Region First Team selection. Hagan was the recipient of the 2018-19 Marlene Mawson Exemplary Student-Athlete Award. She was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team each of the last three seasons.

Kylee Kopatich (women’s basketball)—Kopatich received the Dr. Robert E. Frederick Senior Scholar-Athlete of the Year and the School of Education Senior Leadership awards. She became the 29th player in Kansas history to score over 1,000 career points and is the seventh Jayhawk in history to have 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 steals and 200 assists in a career. Kopatich is the Kansas all-time leader in minutes played with 3,960 and was named as a 2019 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. She finished her career as a three-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team member.

Anastasia Rychagova (tennis)—Rychagova was awarded the Central Region Senior Player of the Year and was named to the All-American First Team. She finished her career ranked 11th in the nation after finishing the fall season as the No. 1-ranked singles player in the nation. Rychagova was named to the All-Big 12 singles and doubles first teams as well as the Big 12 Championship All-tournament Team. She helped lead the Jayhawks to a Big 12 Championship and a Sweet 16 finish at the NCAA Tournament.

Vicky Xu (swimming & diving)—Xu finished her career as a two-time All-American and was named the Kansas Diver of the Year for 2018-19. She became a Big 12 gold medalist in the three-meter for the first time in Kansas history. Xu’s three-meter score of 380.00 broke the Big 12 record, Kansas school record and the Robinson Natatorium record. She became the first Kansas diver ever to go to the NCAA Championships.


Joe Dineen Jr. (football)—Dineen finished as an All-American Second Team for the second consecutive season and was named to the 2018 All-Big 12 First Team. He was also named to the 2018 Academic All-Big 12 First Team after being named to the second team in the previous season. The senior set the Kansas school record in career tackles for loss with 45.5 and led the FBS and Big 12 in 2018 in solo tackles with 108. Dineen was also named to the Senior CLASS Award First Team.

Charlie Hillier (men’s golf)—Hillier was awarded the Dr. Robert Fredrick Senior Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2018-19 and he claimed his first collegiate title after winning the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate with a 13-under three-round score. He was named a GCAA All-American Scholar in 2019 and 2018 as well as was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team each of the last three seasons. Hillier finished inside the top-five in three tournaments and led the team with a 71.13 average per round score.

Bryce Hoppel (men’s cross country/track & field)—Hoppel became a national champion in the 800-meter in both indoor and outdoor and finished the season a perfect 19-0. He holds the KU indoor school record in the 800-meter and was named to the indoor and outdoor All-American First Teams in the 800-meter. Hoppel was awarded the 2019 USTFCCCA Midwest Region Indoor and Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year as well as he earned a spot on Team USA for the World Championships after placing third at the USA Track and Field Championships. He was the Big 12 Champion in the 800-meter in both indoor and outdoor and was named to the 2018 Academic All-Big 12 First Team.

Dedric Lawson (men’s basketball)—Lawson was named as a consensus All-American Third Team member for his 2018-19 season. He led the Big 12 in scoring and rebounding and was named to the All-Big 12 First Team. Lawson was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and the recipient of the Mr. Jayhawk Award. He finished as a finalist for the Naismith Trophy and the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year.

Ryan Zeferjahn (baseball)—Zeferjahn was named to the All-Big 12 and Academic All-Big 12 First Teams for 2019. He was selected in the third round (107th overall) in the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft by the Boston Red Sox. Zeferjahn became the first player in 129 seasons of Kansas baseball to post two or more 100-strikeout seasons after doing it in back-to-back years. His 254-career strikeouts ranks him third all-time at Kansas.

Due to space limitations, the event is by invitation only and limited to athletic department staff, student-athletes, and selected KU faculty and dignitaries.

2019 Rock Chalk Choice Awards Nominees

True Blue Award

  • Hakeem Adeniji (football)
  • Riley Cooney (women’s track & field)
  • Nina Khmelnitckaia (tennis)
  • Jenny Nusbaum (swimming & diving)
  • Darius Releford (men’s track & field)

Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role

  • Emily Bermel (softball)
  • Haley Downey (swimming & diving)
  • Rudy Karre (baseball)
  • Grace Hagan (soccer)
  • Nina Khmelnitckaia (tennis)

Rock Chalk Moment of the Year

  • Women’s Soccer’s double overtime win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament
  • Swimming and Diving’s Big 12 Championship performance
  • Tennis’ Big 12 Tournament Championship
  • Track & Field’s Bryce Hoppel winning the 800m Outdoor National Championship

Crimson Climb Award

  • Gleb Dudarev (men’s track & field)
  • Brittany Franklin (women’s basketball)
  • Mike Lee (football)
  • Addisyn Merrick (soccer)

Jayhawker Award

  • Marleena Eubanks (women’s track & field)
  • Brittany Jackson (softball)
  • Patricia Montero-Nieves (volleyball)
  • Silvio DeSousa (men’s basketball)
  • Ryan Schadler (football)

Del Shankel Award

  • Susan Michelle Stagg-William
  • William Lewis
  • Jordan Bass
  • Justin Blumenstiel
  • Mary Fry

Female Athlete of the Year

  • Alexandra Emilianov (women’s track & field)
  • Grace Hagan (soccer)
  • Kylee Kopatich (women’s basketball)
  • Anastasia Rychagova (tennis)
  • Vicky Xu (swimming & diving)

Male Athlete of the Year

  • Joe Dineen Jr. (football)
  • Charlie Hillier (men’s golf)
  • Bryce Hoppel (men’s cross country/track & field)
  • Dedric Lawson (men’s basketball)
  • Ryan Zeferjahn (baseball)