Mikaela Foecke and Anton Stephenson were named Student-Athletes of the Year
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Foecke, Stephenson Honors Highlight A Night at the Lied

By NU Athletic Communications

Lincoln – The University of Nebraska Athletic Department honored some of its best and brightest student-athletes Sunday evening during the annual A Night at the Lied ceremony. The event highlights stellar performances in competition, the classroom and the community throughout the last year and features the announcement of the 2018-19 Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year and other annual team and individual accomplishments.

Anton Stephenson (Men’s Gymnastics) and Mikaela Foecke (Volleyball) won the most coveted awards at the 29th annual event, as they were selected as the 2018-19 Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year, respectively, by a vote of the faculty members of the Intercollegiate Athletic Committee.

Stephenson is the sixth men’s gymnast to receive the honor, a list that includes his older brother Chris, who was last year’s Male Student-Athlete of the Year. Anton has been a leader for Chuck Chmelka’s program, as the Huskers are ranked eighth in the nation and placed fourth at the Big Ten Championships over the weekend. Earlier this week, Anton Stephenson was named Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the year, as he is ranked first nationally on vault, eighth on floor exercise and 11th in the all-around in the latest national rankings. At the Big Ten Championships, he placed first on vault, fifth on floor exercise and seventh in the all-around. He has won 14 event titles in 2019 and is a finalist for the Nissen-Emery Award, given to the top senior male gymnast in the NCAA based on athletic achievements, sportsmanship and academic excellence. He is also a two-time All-American who has helped the Huskers reach the NCAA Team Finals in each of the past two seasons.  In the classroom, he earned Big Ten Distinguished Scholar accolades in 2017 and 2018 and is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. A six-time member of the NU Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll, Stephenson won the Wayne Duke Postgraduate scholarship from the Big Ten earlier this year. He is expected to graduate with a degree in nutrition and health sciences in August.

Foecke came home with both of the major awards on Sunday, as she was also selected as Nebraska’s Best Female Athlete. Foecke is the eighth Husker volleyball player to receive the Female Student-Athlete of the Year and first since Amanda Gates in 2009.  A four-year standout for Coach John Cook, Foecke was a four-time All-American who guided the Huskers to Four NCAA Semifinal Appearances, including a pair of national titles (2015, 2017). As a senior, she led the Huskers in kills (3.86/set), digs (2.65/set) and service aces (46) en route to a 29-7 record and an NCAA runner-up finish. A first-team All-American and All-Big Ten selection, she capped her career with a season-best 27 kills in the NCAA Championship match to earn a spot on the all-tournament team.  In the classroom, she is a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and a six-time member of the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll. In December of 2018, she received the Senior CLASS Award, given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I volleyball with notable achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, community, character and competition. She will graduate with a degree in animal science/pre-veterinary science in May.

Stephenson and Foecke will be Nebraska’s Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients in 2019. The conference's most exclusive award was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. The Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student from the graduating class of each university who had "attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work." Big Ten schools currently feature more than 9,500 students competing in intercollegiate athletics, but only 28 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis. In more than 100 years of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, almost 1,400 students have earned this distinction.

Tyler Berger (Wrestling) was named the Best Male Athlete for his performances over the past year, as he earned a runner-up finish at last month’s NCAA Championships. The Prineville, Ore., native went 28-4 as a senior, finishing second at both the Big Ten and NCAA Championships in leading the Huskers to a 10th-place team finish at the NCAA Championships. A four-time All-American, Berger finished his career with a 116-32 career mark, including an impressive 46-14 dual record.

Two impact freshmen were lauded as the top newcomer student-athletes, as Nicklin Hames (Volleyball) and Adrian Martinez (Football) both earned starting roles and guided prolific offensive attacks in 2018-19.

Hames was named the Outstanding Female Newcomer after guiding the Huskers to 29 wins and an NCAA runner-up finish. She averaged 10.49 assists and 3.32 digs per set while finishing second on the team with 40 service aces. Hames was selected to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team and received AVCA All-America honorable-mention accolades while breaking Jordan Larson’s single-season mark for double-doubles with 25.

Martinez was named the Outstanding Male Newcomer after earning the starting quarterback spot and first-team Freshman All-America honors from the FWAA. Martinez, an honorable-mention All-Big Ten pick, set single-season records for total offensive yards per game (295.1), 400-yard total offensive games in a season (3) and 300-yard total offensive games in a season (7) while breaking six other freshman records for the Huskers.

A total of nine student-athletes received the Outstanding Scholar Award, which is presented to student-athletes in their final season of eligibility or who are graduating next month while carrying a 3.90 or better GPA. The men’s honorees include Stephenson and fellow men’s gymnast Joshua Everitt, Bo Kitrell (Football), Rok Krizaj (Tennis) and Jordan Shearer (Wrestling). The women’s recipients include Marina Cozac (Tennis), Lindsay Hargreaves (Soccer), Lindsay Helferich (Swimming and Diving) and Rachel Yager (Rifle).

Coach Scott Jacobson’s women’s tennis team repeated as Herman Trophy GPA Award winners with a combined GPA of 3.493 for 2018. It is the eighth time they have captured the Herman Award.  The men’s cross country team earned their ninth Herman Trophy GPA Award, but first since 2010 by posting a combined 3.173 GPA. It capped a strong year for Coach David Harris and the Husker cross country as two runners qualified for the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2010.

Life Skills presented the third-annual Sam Foltz 27 Hero Leadership Award on Sunday. This award, named in honor of the late Husker punter Sam Foltz who passed away in 2016, was presented to 27 student-athletes across all sports who exhibit strong leadership qualities, commitment to service and ability to encourage/empower peers. The Life Skills program also named eight winners across all sports of its most prestigious individual award - the Heart & Soul Award. The Heart & Soul winners were Freedom Akinmoladun (Football), Bri Cassidy (Softball), Tanner Farmer (Football), Jerald Foster (Football), Jackie Jeschke (Swimming and Diving), Catelyn Orel (Women's Gymnastics), Nina Radulovic (Rifle) and Aris Shino (Wrestling).

Life Skills also honored the members of the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team, as a total of 384 student-athletes were recognized. Husker student-athletes volunteered to impact more than 30,000 people throughout the state of Nebraska in 2018-19.

Overall, a total of 312 Huskers earned academic medallions at A Night at the Lied. Gold medallions (103) were presented to those for highest academic honors (3.75-4.00 grade-point average). Silver medallions (68) were awarded to those for high honors (3.50-3.749 GPA), while bronze medallions (141) were presented to student-athletes with honors (3.00-3.499 GPA).

2018-19 University of Nebraska Athletic/Academic/Life Skills Awards
Female Student-Athlete of the Year & Big Ten Medal of Honor: Mikaela Foecke, Volleyball

Male Student-Athlete of the Year & Big Ten Medal of Honor: Anton Stephenson, Men’s Gymnastics

Best Female Athlete: Mikaela Foecke, Volleyball
Best Male Athlete: Tyler Berger, Wrestling

Outstanding Female Newcomer: Nicklin Hames, Volleyball
Outstanding Male Newcomer: Adrian Martinez, Football

Outstanding Scholar Awards (9): Marina Cozac, Women's Tennis; Joshua Everitt, Men's Gymnastics; Lindsay Hargreaves, Women's Soccer; Lindsay Helferich, Swimming; Bo Kitrell, Football; Rok Krizaj, Men's Tennis; Jordan Shearer, Wrestling; Anton Stephenson, Men's Gymnastics; Rachel Yager, Rifle

Heart & Soul Awards (8): Freedom Akinmoladun, Football; Bri Cassidy, Softball; Tanner Farmer, Football; Jerald Foster, Football; Jackie Jeschke, Swimming; Catelyn Orel, Women's Gymnastics; Nina Radulovic, Rifle; Aris Shino, Wrestling

Women’s Herman Team GPA Award: Tennis (3.493 GPA)
Men’s Herman Team GPA Award: Cross Country (3.173 GPA)

Sam Foltz 27 Hero Leadership Award (27): Thomas Allen, Men's Basketball; Avery Anderson, Football; Kirsten Baete, Women's Golf; Zemua Baptista; Wrestling; Emma Bresser, Women's Cross Country/Track & Field; Rachel Brush, Women's Cross Country/Track & Field; Sadio Fenner, Men's Cross Country/Track & Field; Kaylyn Flatt, Swimming & Diving; Ethan Frazier, Baseball; Kayla Gadeken, Rifle; Sierra Hassel; Women's Gymnastics; Michaela Loebel, Soccer; Anna McDonald, Swimming & Diving; Jon Meyer, Men's Tennis; Sinclaire Miramontez, Soccer; Grace Mitchell, Women's Basketball; Raquel Orozco, Bowling; Daniel Pearson, Men's Golf; Claire Reifeis, Women's Tennis; Ryan Schommer, Football; Jonathan Scripnick, Men's Gymnastics; Brooke Smith, Volleyball; Ben Stille, Football; Anezka Szabo, Volleyball; Rylie Unzicker, Softball; Savanah Uveges, Soccer; Emma Worley, Women's Tennis


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