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K-State Student-Athletes Celebrate in Style

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K-State's Abigail Weaver, Jennifer Smisek, Zack Nemecheck, Petra Niedermayerova, Beth Demars, Meggie Murray, and Tyler Norris win the Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Award during the Mark A. Chapman Powercat Choice Awards at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas on May 8, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)

May 10, 2014
By Kelly McHugh

An evening filled with fun and fashion, K-State student-athletes traded in their sweats and sneakers for high heels, suits and dresses on Thursday evening while attending the fifth annual Mark A. Chapman Powercat Choice Awards.

"It's another great experience," said wide receiver Tyler Lockett sporting a black suit and purple bow tie. "We always dress up in sweats when we're running around campus, so it's a different type of feeling and atmosphere to be in. Everybody came in and dressed up, everybody looks nice - the women look beautiful, the men are looking sharp. I think it's a great way to switch it up a little bit and celebrate everybody's seasons regardless of how we all did."

Put together throughout the year by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the event is for all 450 K-State student-athletes to attend and celebrate their achievements both in the classroom and in competition from the past year.

From the Newcomer of the Year to Athlete of the Year to Team of the Year - the Wildcats celebrated their most memorable moments and yet another successful year with K-State Athletics. 

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"I think this year I'm the most excited because it's my last one," said women's tennis senior Petra Niedermayerova. "It's the last time I'll dress up and see all my friends and athletes dressed up too. It's always a good time."

The evening started out with the student-athletes walking the purple carpet in Bramlage Coliseum, taking photos and mingling with friends and teammates. Once all had arrived, the student-athletes sat for dinner and then the production began.

"We made some changes this year to make it a little bit more interesting and a little bit more fun," said SAAC member and women's volleyball player Taylor Johnson. "We added a DJ and added some more video to really elaborate on this year's nominees since we had another great year. Those videos really showcased everyone's talents."

The SAAC leaders stood on stage and presented the awards, and once each winner was announced, they had the opportunity to step up to the podium and say a few words to the coaches, teammates and K-State faculty in attendance.

All awards were voted on by all the K-State student-athletes while the nominees were chosen by K-State's SAAC committee. 

Winning Male Athlete of the Year was Lockett who broke numerous records and helped the Wildcats to one of the greatest in-season turnarounds in college football history. For his performance on the field last season he earned All-America, All-Big 12 and Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year honors.

"It's a great accomplishment," Lockett said with a smile as he held his award. "It's an amazing feeling knowing that you got nominated for the award, especially when there were so many great guys who also could have won it. Also, following last year and who was going after it - guys like Collin (Klein) and Erik (Kynard) - it's just a great feeling to be put in that position."

On the women's side, Niedermayerova earned both Female Athlete of the Year and Female Scholar Athlete of the Year for her outstanding success on both the tennis court and in the classroom. Niedermayerova finishes her K-State career as the all-time winningest player in both singles and doubles and is a four-time All-Big 12 pick. She is a three-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree and will represent K-State for the final time as she will appear in her fourth NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Singles Championship in Athens, Georgia, on May 21-26. She is the first Wildcat to make four NCAA appearances.

Along with Niedermayerova, track and field's Kyle Wait earned Male Scholar Athlete of the Year honors for not only winning a Big 12 title in the pole vault, but also maintaining a 3.7 GPA in agriculture.

The Men's and Women's Team of the Year honors went to the 2013 baseball team and 2013 women's track and field squad. The baseball team won its first conference title in 80 years, hosted and won the NCAA Manhattan Regional and was one win away from the College World Series after falling to Oregon State in the third and deciding game of the Corvallis Super Regional. K-State baseball head coach Brad Hill was named Coach of the Year after last year's outstanding season while the 2013 baseball team also earned the Showstopping Moment of the Year for its Big 12 clinching win over Oklahoma. 

"This is about last year and the great accomplishments that this ball club had," said Hill as he accepted the award. "The coaches, players and everything that took place, it was a tremendous year. It was a record-setting year for Kansas State baseball. It was an exciting year and we appreciate it a bunch."

The women's track and field team advanced two student-athletes to the NCAA Championships (Martina Tresch and Erica Twiss) while also seeing two performers win Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors (Sara Savatovic) and an individual conference title (Tresch).

"It was really cool to finally get an award," said Twiss who also earned the Big 12 title in the 2014 Indoor Big 12 Championship earlier this season.  "We didn't think we'd be up for it because we're kind of the sport that's a little more behind the scenes, but it was really cool because everyone has worked really hard and has had great seasons this season and last outdoor. It's nice to be appreciated for that."

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Continuing the awards, the Newcomer of the Year awards went to men's basketball's Marcus Foster and women's track and field's Sara Savatovic for their outstanding first-year performances.

Earning the Best Female and Male Athletes in a Supporting role were volleyball's Kersten Koeber and men's basketball's D.J. Johnson. 

"This is my first Powercat Choice Awards," said Johnson who is also a member of SAAC. "Usually everyone is in our athletic gear, so it's been nice to see everyone out and in their nice attire, and all dressed up."

The recipients of the Most Inspirational Award was Jessica Kuhlman of women's rowing, who overcame obstacles early in the year and continued to find success on the water, while Ryan Mueller earned the Purple Pride Award - the award given to a student-athlete who demonstrates the most school spirit. 


Also earning awards were:

For academic achievements
Bob & Lila Snell Academic Award for Excellence and Effort - Nino Williams (men's basketball) and Laura Lefnitzegger (equestrian)
Gina Sylvester Memorial Award - Carlos Rodrigues (men's track and field)
Veryl & Fern Switzer Campus Leadership Award - Blake Slaughter (football)

Senior SAAC representatives recognized
Blair DeBord, baseball
Chantay Caron, women's basketball
Kyle Hanson, men's cross country
Amelia Crites, equestrain
Jacquelyn Bogstad, equestrian
Try Walker, football
David Klaudt, men's golf
Tyler Norris, men's golf
Gianna Misenhelter, women's golf
Aly Bronder, rowing
Petra Niedermayerova, tennis
Ryan Harshberger, men's track and field
Tristan McCarty, volleyball

Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Achievement Award Winners
Courtney Cook, volleyball
Beth DeMars, rowing
Meggie Murray, rowing
Zach Nemecheck, football
Petra Niedermayerova, tennis
Tyler Norris, men's golf
Jennifer Smisek, rowing
Abigail Weaver, rowing

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K-State student athletes pose for pictures on the purple carpet before the Mark A. Chapman Powercat Choice Awards at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas on May 8, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)
 

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.