Rock Chalk Choice Awards Finalists Named

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas Athletics will host the 10th edition of the Rock Chalk Choice Awards Sunday, September 10th at the Lied Center on the campus of the University of Kansas.

Student-Athletes will kick off the evening on the red carpet with food, refreshments, and music before making their way into the theater for the evening program. The program will celebrate all the exceptional athletic and academic accomplishments Jayhawk student-athlete achieved during the 2022-23 school year. Emcees for the evening will be distinguished KU alumni Jill Dorsey Hall (Volleyball) and Brandon McAnderson (football).

Below are the finalists for the awards that will be presented during the show.

Athlete of the Year award honors the top athlete from both a women’s sport program and men’s sport program in recognition of their extraordinary athletic performance.

Finalists from the women’s sport programs are: Rylee Anderson (Track & Field), Rylan Childers (Soccer), Taiyanna Jackson (Basketball), Rachel Langs (Volleyball), Jordan Rothman (Golf), Lezli Sisung (Swim & Dive) and Kateryna Ustiuzhanina (Rowing).

Finalists from the men’s sport programs: Jalon Daniels (Football), Cole Elvis (Baseball), Clayton Simms (Track & Field) and Jalen Wilson (Basketball).

The Jayhawker Award honors a student-athlete who reflected the characteristics of the pioneers who held true to their values through devastation and hardship while founding the state of Kansas. The nominees for this award demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to excellence, and in their actions reflect Kansas values of resiliency in the face of adversity, an unwavering competitive spirit, and positively contribute to Kansas Athletics. The finalists are: Olivia Bruno (Softball), Anastasiia Draha (Rowing), Mason Fairchild (Football), Zakiyah Franklin (Women’s Basketball) and Marcus Freeman (Men’s Track & Field).

The Crimson Climb Award honors a student-athlete who overcame challenges with optimism and exceeded academic or athletic expectations. The nominees for this award must exhibit commitment to Kansas values, demonstrate resiliency in their ability to bounce back from adversity and serve as an inspiration to their teammates and the Jayhawk community. The finalists are: Lia Beyer (Soccer), Courtney Costain (Rowing), Dajuan Harris Jr. (Men’s Basketball), James Livingston (Football), Roxana Manu (Tennis) and Ellie Wehrmann (Swim & Dive).

The True-Blue Award honors a student-athlete who demonstrates commitment to excellence in their leadership among their peers, and in their actions reflect Kansas values of togetherness. The nominees for this award advance Kansas Athletics through active participation in student organizations and community building opportunities. The finalists are: Mackenzie Bravence (Swim & Dive), Michael Brooks (Baseball), Sophia Buzard (Softball), Ben Easters (Football), Kennedy Farris (Volleyball) and Hanna Hawks (Women’s Golf).

Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role is presented to a student-athlete not only give everything they have, day-in-and-day-out, but they have the ability to get the best out of their teammates, elevating the competition every day. The student-athletes nominated for this award demonstrate extraordinary sportsmanship, support and loyalty to teammates and Kansas Athletics. The finalists are: Angelina Arinze (Women’s Track & Field), Addi Barnes (Swim & Dive), George Jackson (Men’s Track & Field), Landon Nelson (Football) and Molly Shultz (Volleyball).

The Billy Mills Award honors a student-athlete who demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to inclusive excellence and support of the Jayhawk community through the power of sport. The nominees for this award must have exhibited intentionality in gaining greater perspective, developing their sense of self, and contributing to a united community (Lawrence and/or within our athletics community). The finalists are: Tommy Dunn (Football), Lyric Moore (Softball), Malkia Ngounoue (Tennis), Jalen Wilson (Men’s Basketball) and Lize Van Leeuwen (Swim & Dive).

The Newcomer of the Year Award honors a student-athlete who in their first year as a Jayhawk demonstrated competitive excellence and excelled in competition during their season. The nominees for this award must exhibit a high level of integrity and accountability. This award is given to two student-athletes, one from a women’s sport program and one from a men’s sport program.

Finalists from the women’s sport programs are: Lize Van Leeuwen (Swim & Dive), Esme Hamilton (Golf), Heike Janse Van Vuuren (Tennis), Lizzy Ludwig (Softball), Aaliyah Moore (Track & Field), Wyvette Mayberry (Basketball), Kateryna Ustiuzhanina (Rowing) and Lexi Watts (Soccer).

Finalists from the men’s sport programs are: Dom Puni (Football), Tayton Klein (Track & Field), Kevin McCullar (Basketball), Will King (Golf) and Collin Baumgartner (Baseball).

The Del Shankel Teaching Excellence Award was established by the Student Athlete Advisory Committee in 1996 to allow student-athletes the opportunity to honor an outstanding member of the faculty at the University of Kansas. This year’s finalists are: Jana Fitchett (Business), Dr. Eileen Hotze (Molecular Bio), Dr. Stephen Ilardi (Psychology) and Jenny McKee (Health Education).

The final award for the evening will be the Moment of the Year, with the finalist being Rylee Anderson’s NCAA National Runner-Up high jump performance, Men’s Basketball winning the 2023 Big 12 regular-season championship, Women’s Basketball WNIT Championship and Football’s win versus Oklahoma State to become bowl eligible. Those attending the event will vote on the winner.