LINCOLN–(NU Athletics Apr. 23)–Nebraska Athletics celebrated its top achievers on the field, in the classroom and in the community with the annual “A Night at the Lied” Sunday evening. The event highlights the accomplishments of Husker student athletes over the past year, culminating with the presentation of the Female and Male Student Athletes of the Year.
Seniors Ieva Turke (Women’s Track and Field) and Trent Hixson (Football) won the most coveted awards at the 33rd annual event, as they were selected as the 2022-23 Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year, respectively, by a vote of the faculty members of the Intercollegiate Athletic Committee. To be considered for the award, student-athletes have carried a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or better, performed with distinction in a varsity sport and acted in a manner that has brought credit to the student-athlete, the institution and intercollegiate athletics.
Turke is a two-time Big Ten champion and four-time all-conference jumper for the Huskers. The Tukums, Latvia, native won the Big Ten indoor triple jump championship in both 2020 and 2021 and is also a two-time Big Ten runner-up in the indoor long jump (2020, 2021). She has placed in the top four of the Big Ten championships 10 times during her collegiate career and ranks in the top 10 on both NU’s indoor and outdoor lists in the triple jump. In the classroom, Turke is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and a five-time member of the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team. Turke is a two-time Tom Osborne Citizenship team member for her work in the Lincoln community. She graduated with a degree in nutrition and health sciences in May of 2022 and is pursuing a master’s degree in dietetics. Turke is the 10th female Husker track and field athlete to earn the honor and second consecutive honoree, joining 2022 winner Andy Jacobs.
Hixson was a starter at two different positions (offensive guard and center) during a college career which saw him make 36 appearances, including 26 starts for the Huskers. A former walk-on, Hixson started all 12 games at guard in 2019, as the Huskers ranked third in the Big Ten in rushing offense and fifth in total offense. He moved to center, replacing NFL Draft pick Cam Jurgens in the Husker lineup, as Hixson was the only Husker linemen to start all 12 games in 2022. Off the field, Hixson is a five-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. He was a four-time member of the Tom Osborne and Brook Berringer Citizenship teams for his community work. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting in May of 2021 and will graduate with a master’s degree in professional accountancy this spring. Hixson is the ninth football player to be selected Male Student-Athlete of the Year and first since Dane Tood in 2007.
Turke and Hixson will be Nebraska’s Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients in 2023. 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 student-athletes with 11,000 participation opportunities, but only 28 earn this prestigious award on an annual basis. In more than 100 years of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, more than 1,500 students have earned this distinction.
Cecelia Ossi (Rifle) earned Best Female Athlete after winning the NCAA Championship in the smallbore. The Annandale, N.J., native earned CRCA All-America honors in all three disciplines in leading the Huskers to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. She garnered first-team honors in smallbore, second team honors in air rifle and third-team accolades in aggregate. She set school records for season averages in smallbore (588.75) and air rifle (594.00). Ossi won seven event titles during the season, as Nebraska posted the five highest team scores in program history. In addition, she also competed for Team USA at the Rifle and Pistol World Championships in Cairo, Egypt, in October of 2022. She is the first rifle student-athlete to be named Best Female Athlete.
Mikey Labriola (Wrestling) was chosen as Best Male Athlete after reaching the NCAA Finals at 174 pounds. On the year, the Easton, Pa., product went 30-2, including a 14-0 record in dual competition, as the Huskers placed third at the Big Ten meet and eighth at the NCAAs. The first five-time All-American in program history, Labriola’s only two losses came in the finals of the Big Ten and NCAA meets to three-time NCAA Champion Carter Starocci, who has not lost a match since the 2021 Big Ten Championships. Labriola posted four technical falls and seven major decisions in 2022-23, winning titles at the Cliff Keen Invitational and the Navy Classic. He finished his Husker career with a 120-28 mark, as his 120 wins ranked ninth in school history.
Jillian Martin (Bowling) was named Outstanding Female Freshman Athlete for her efforts in helping the Huskers to a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships. A native of Stow, Ohio, Martin earned NTCA Rookie of the Year and first-team All-America honors, as she ranked second nationally in scoring average and first in strike percentage during the regular season. Martin, who anchored the Husker lineup for much of the season, posted five top-10 finishes, including a win in the Penguin Classic and runner-up at the Bearcat Open.
Malcolm Hartzog (Football) garnered Outstanding Male Freshman Athlete, as he moved into a starting role as a true freshman. The Silver Creek, Miss., native totaled 22 tackles, a team-leading three interceptions and two pass breakups while appearing in all 12 games. Hartzog became the first true freshman to start at cornerback since 2016, as he started the final eight games for the Big Red. He was third in the Big Ten in conference play with his three interceptions, including a game-sealing pick in NU’s 14-13 win at Rutgers. Hartzog was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week against Indiana, becoming the first NU defender to earn the conference freshman honor since 2017.
A total of nine student-athletes received the Outstanding Scholar Award, which is presented to individuals who have graduated with better than a 3.90 GPA in the previous year or are up for graduation and have better than a 3.90 GPA. The list of honorees included women’s tennis players Chloe Kuckelman and Ellie Kuckelman, women’s track and field athletes Jamieson Battistella, Maddy Lueger and Taya Skelton as well as Dakota Chan (Soccer), Annika Evans (Volleyball), Rachel Powers (Swimming and Diving) and Karlee Seevers (Softball).
The Herman Trophy GPA Award featured a pair of repeat winners taking home top honors. The women’s cross country team, under the direction of coach Matt Wackerly, claimed its 12th honor with a team GPA of 3.731 in 2022. The men’s tennis team under Coach Sean Maymi earned its 10th Herman Trophy GPA Award with a team GPA of 3.572, the second-highest GPA for a men’s team since the award was first presented in 1995.
Life Skills presented the Sam Foltz 27 Hero Leadership Award on Sunday. This award, named in honor of the late Husker punter Sam Foltz, 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 four winners across all sports of its most prestigious individual award – the Heart & Soul Award. The 2023 Heart & Soul winners were Nicklin Hames (Volleyball), Mikey Hoffer, (Men’s Track and Field), Passmore Mudundulu (Men’s Track and Field) and Megan Whittaker (Women’s Golf).
Life Skills also honored the members of the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team, as a total of 344 student-athletes were recognized. The Huskers “Good Works” team was created in 2014 and this year’s total was the second largest in school history. Special recognition went to 11 programs who had 100 percent of their roster honored this year, including Men’s Basketball, Men’s Tennis, Rifle, Soccer, Softball, Swimming and Diving, Volleyball, Women’s Basketball, Women’s Golf, Women’s Gymnastics and Women’s Tennis.
Overall, a total of 320 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 (91) were awarded to those for high honors (3.50-3.749 GPA), while bronze medallions (126) were presented to student-athletes with honors (3.00-3.499 GPA).
“A Night at the Lied” Winners for 2022-23
Female Student-Athlete of the Year & Big Ten Medal of Honor: Ieva Turke, Women’s Track and Field
Male Student-Athlete of the Year & Big Ten Medal of Honor: Trent Hixson, Football
Best Female Athlete: Cecelia Ossi, Rifle
Best Male Athlete: Mikey Labriola, Wrestling
Outstanding Female Freshman Athlete: Jillian Martin, Bowling
Outstanding Male Freshman Athlete: Malcolm Hartzog, Football
Women’s Herman Team GPA Award: Cross Country (3.731 GPA)
Men’s Herman Team GPA Award: Tennis (3.572 GPA)
Outstanding Scholar Awards (9): Jamieson Battistella, Women’s Track and Field; Dakota Chan, Soccer; Annika Evans, Volleyball; Chloe Kuckelman, Women’s Tennis; Ellie Kuckelman, Women’s Tennis; Maddy Lueger, Women’s Track and Field; Rachel Powers, Swimming and Diving; Taya Skelton, Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field; Karlee Seevers, Softball
Heart & Soul Awards (4): Nicklin Hames, Volleyball; Mikey Hoffer, Men’s Track and Field; Passmore Mudundulu, Men’s Track and Field; Megan Whittaker, Women’s Golf
Sam Foltz 27 Hero Leadership Award (27): Isabel Adrover Gallego, Women’s Tennis; Bekka Allick, Volleyball; Kaitlyn Barth, Swimming and Diving; Michael Booker III, Football; Efry Cervantes, Baseball; Crystal Elliott, Bowling; Madelynn Erickson, Rifle; Mya Felder, Softball; Mikai Gbayor, Football; Genesis Gibson, Women’s Gymnastics; John Goodwin, Football; Sam Griesel, Men’s Basketball; Kolby Heinerikson, Men’s Track and Field; Roni Hietaranta, Men’s Tennis; Chris Hiser, Men’s Gymnastics; Clayton Keys, Men’s Track and Field; Maddie Krull, Women’s Basketball; Berkeley Livingston, Swimming and Diving; Brynna McQuillen, Women’s Cross Country/Track and Field; Abbey Newlun, Softball; Marissa Popoola, Soccer; Reagan Raabe, Soccer; Jenna Rogers, Women’s Track and Field; Kathryn Thaler, Women’s Gymnastics; Michaela Vavrova, Women’s Golf; Derrick Walker, Men’s Basketball; Nieve Walsh, Women’s Track and Field.