Track And Field Duo Take Top Honors At Rock Chalk Choice Awards

By: KU, posted by Kinch O'Kelley
By: KU, posted by Kinch O'Kelley

LAWRENCE, Kan. On the heels of one of the most successful track and field seasons in recent school history, decorated jumper Andrea Geubelle and men's hurdler Michael Stigler were selected as KU's top Female and Male Athletes of the Year as Kansas Athletics celebrated its best student-athlete and team performances of the 2012-13 seasons at the Rock Chalk Choice Awards Sunday night. Kansas soccer was presented with the Top Team GPA award and for the second consecutive season the volleyball team claimed the CHAMPS Award during the event at the Lied Center of Kansas.

Stigler and Geubelle were joined by four others student athletes as the best in a year full of memorable performances and achievements. Kansas football's Tony Pierson was presented with the Crimson Climb Award, volleyball's Brianne Riley with the Jayhawker Award, rowing's Abbey Lozenski with the True Blue Award and volleyball's Erin McNorton was named the Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role. In a vote conducted by attendees at the second annual, Academy-Awards-like celebration, the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Women's Track and Field National Championship was picked as the Rock Chalk Moment of 2012-13.
Geubelle proved to be a champion at every level during her final season of competition for the Jayhawks, winning two Big 12 championships, a pair of indoor National Championships and was crowned the USA triple jump champion at the USA Track and Field Championships. During the indoor season, Geubelle won national titles in both the triple jump and long jump, then became just the second woman in Big 12 history to repeat as league champion in both indoor and outdoor triple jumps. The University Place, Wash., native scored 16 points for Kansas at the outdoor national meet with runner-up finishes in both horizontal jumps and helped the Jayhawks claim the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championship, the program's first team women's national title.

A year after crashing the Big 12 400-meter hurdles party as a freshman conference champion, Stigler repeated as Big 12 champ during the 2013 outdoor season and set the KU school record in the event. The Canyon, Texas native also helped the Jayhawks to their first conference win in a relay since 1979 when he and three others won the 2013 Big 12 Outdoor 440-yard relay, then helped that team earn All-America second team honors at the NCAA Championships. Â

Riley's Jayhawker Award was presented in honor of the pioneers who held true to their values through devastation and hardship while founding the state of Kansas. The Naperville, Ill., finished the 2012 season with 1,498 digs – the most in Kansas history in only three years. Just three days before eclipsing the KU career record, Riley locked up the single-season mark as well and went on to become the first Jayhawk to break the 600-mark with 613 digs in 2012.

Riley's teammate, Erin McNorton, was named the Best Jayhawk in a Supporting Role. A hard – but quiet – worker, McNorton honed her skills as a setter during her freshman and sophomore seasons on the Kansas volleyball team. When she earned her first career start on opening day during the 2012 season, the Dallas, Texas native simply took off. Her 1,443 assists in 2012 didn't merely lead the Big 12 setters – she alone totaled more assists than five Big 12 teams. An unassuming leader, McNorton led the Jayhawk offense to the fourth-best attack percentage in school history and ranked seventh in the NCAA in assists per set.

Pierson, who led the Jayhawks in receiving with two catches for 34 yards and rushed for an additional 47 yards in Saturday's season-opening win over South Dakota, was presented with this year's Crimson Climb Award, given to a student-athlete who has overcome academic challenges and has made consistent academic progress. The East St. Louis, Ill., native was selected All-Big 12 Honorable Mention by both the league's coaches and the Associated Press last season. He finished seventh in the Big 12 with 69.1 yards per game during the 2012 season and tallied 100-plus yards on the ground in three games, including the first 200-yard by a Jayhawk since 2006.

The True Blue Award, given to a student-athlete who demonstrates devotion to excellence in academics and athletics while advancing Kansas Athletics through participation in various student organizations and community service projects was presented to Lozenski, a Lansing, Kan. native. The Academic All-Big 12 First Team member serves as KU's Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) President. During the 2012 holiday season, she was the driving force behind the Adopt an Angel program and joined her teammates in collecting more than $300 to buy gifts for less fortunate children in the area. One particular gift – a guitar on a teenage boy's wish list – required a little extra money, so she and her teammates reached out via social networks to get even more people to donate, including an old teammate, who was able to make the wish come true.

Kansas volleyball claimed its third consecutive CHAMPS crown after accumulating the highest point total based on participation in personal development, community outreach, team GPA, Jayhawks Supporting Jayhawks, SAAC and KU Leads activities.Â

All attendees experienced a pre-show red carpet entrance, complete with photo opportunities and television interviews. After a reception in the Lied Center Lobby, the awards show started with a special opening number highlighting the athletic accomplishments of the previous year. The evening's festivites ended with a video message from Kansas native and  former WBC Welterweight Champion Victor Ortiz.


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