Knapton, Hymanson take home top honors at 2021 virtual A Night at the Lied

Nebraska Athletics recognized many of its top performers during the 2020-21 academic year with A Virtual Night at the Lied.

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Athletics) – Nebraska Athletics recognized many of its top performers during the 2020-21 academic year with A Virtual Night at the Lied. The event recognizes the outstanding performances in competition, classroom and community outreach and was highlighted by the live announcement of the major award winners, including the Male and Female Student-Athlete of the Year, the Best Male and Female Athlete and the Outstanding Male and Female Newcomer.

Seniors Abigail Knapton (Swimming/Diving) and Evan Hymanson (Men’s Gymnastics) won the most coveted awards at the 31st annual event, as they were selected as the 2021 Female and Male Student-Athletes of the Year, respectively, by a vote of the faculty members of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee.

Hymanson is the seventh Husker gymnast to be named Male Student-Athlete of the Year and the third in the last four seasons. A native of Marlboro, N.J., Hymanson captained the Husker gymnastics team to a fourth-place finish at the 2021 NCAA Championships, the third time NU reached the NCAA Team Finals during his career. He competed on three events for the Huskers, winning two parallel bars title, including a career-high score of 14.55 in the event. In the classroom, he is a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and three time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.  Hymanson was a first-team CoSIDA Academic All-District selection in 2020 and has been on the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll nine times. He graduated last Saturday with a degree in mechanical engineering and was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

Knapton earned a rare distinction of sweeping both the Female Student-Athlete of the Year and Top Female Athlete awards, becoming just the second Husker to accomplish the feat (Mikaela Foecke, 2019). Knapton, a native of Omaha, is the most decorated diver in program history and is the first Husker swimmer or diver to ever be named Female Student-Athlete of the Year. As a senior, she earned first-team All-America honors on both platform diving and the 3-meter dive in 2021, becoming the first diver in school history to earn multiple first-team certificates in the same season. She was named Big Ten Diver of the Meet at the conference championship, placing in the top two of all three diving events. She won both the platform and 1-Meter, becoming the school’s first-ever Big Ten Diving Champion and also took home runner-up honors in the 3-meter event. She finished her career as a six-time All-American, including a four-time All-American in platform diving, becoming the only Husker swimmer or diver to be a four-time first-team All-American in the same event. In the classroom, she is a three-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and nine-time member of the NU Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll. A three-time CSCAA Scholar All-American, Knapton graduated with a psychology degree on Saturday and was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

Knapton and Hymanson will be Nebraska’s Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients in 2021. 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.

Burger Lambrechts, Jr. (Track and Field) was selected as Nebraska’s Top Male Athlete. He is the second straight track and field performer to win the Top Male Athlete Award, but the first Husker field event athlete to win since Nick Percy in 2017. Lambrechts garnered first-team All-America honors from the USTFCCCA after placing fifth in the shot put at the 2021 NCAA Indoor Championships, marking the highest finish in the event by a Husker since 2004. He won the Big Ten shot put title with a throw of 67-4 3/4 (20.54m), bettering the runner up by more than two feet. For his efforts, he was named Big Ten Men’s Field Athlete of the Year, becoming the first-ever Nebraska men’s track and field athlete to win a Big Ten Athlete of the Year Award. He ranks second on NU’s all-time indoor shot put chart and has continued that dominance into the spring season. His best outdoor throw of 65-2 (19.86m) is fifth all-time on NU’s outdoor chart, and he has won his last two competitions during the outdoor campaign.

Two All-America honorees in 2020-21 were recognized for their achievements, as Taylor Christopulos (Men’s Gymnastics) and Crystal Elliott (Bowling) were tabbed as Nebraska’s top first-year performers.

Christopulos becomes the first Husker men’s gymnast named Nebraska’s Outstanding Male Newcomer after a dazzling 2021 season. The freshman standout earned first-team All-America honors and helped the Huskers place fourth at the 2021 NCAA Championships. Christopulos placed fifth on vault with a score of 14.66, becoming the first Husker freshman gymnast since 2016 to earn All-America honors. A four-time NCAA Rookie of the Week, he was ranked No. 1 on vault during the regular season and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He earned runner-up honors on vault and fifth on still rings at the Big Ten meet in helping the Huskers to a second-place showing. A second-team All-Big Ten selection, he won six event titles during the 2021 season.

Elliott put together a dominant 2021 season, leading the Husker bowling program to its sixth NCAA title and was selected as the Outstanding Female Newcomer. The sophomore transfer was named the National Tenpin Coaches Association Division I Bowler of the Year, the 10th Husker to earn that distinction since the program became a varsity sport at Nebraska. A first-team All-American, she was the anchor in the Husker lineup, leading the nation in total scoring average. Elliott was second nationally in traditional game scoring with a 216.0 and third in baker game format (21.35 per frame), the only bowler in the country to rank in the top five in both categories. Elliott earned three top-five finishes, highlighted by a third-place showing at the Mid-Winter Classic with a season-best average of 228.33 and placed in the top 15 in all five regular-season tournaments. Elliott becomes the first Husker bowler to be named Nebraska’s Outstanding Female Newcomer.

A total of eight student-athletes received the Outstanding Scholar Award, which is presented to student-athletes in their final season of eligibility and who carry a 3.90 or better GPA. The honorees included Grace Brown (Soccer), Hayley Densberger (Volleyball), Erika Freyhof (Women’s Cross Country/Track), Andy Jacobs (Women’s Track), Abigail Knapton (Swimming/Diving), Isabelle Murray (Swimming), Tucker Sjomeling (Wrestling) and Hannah Thiele (Women’s Golf).

The Herman Team GPA Awards were presented to the men’s cross country and women’s rifle teams. Head Coach David Harris’ team captured the men’s award for the third straight year with a 3.539 GPA, the highest men’s winning GPA since 2013. It marked the third straight season and the 11th time that the cross country team was honored, the most of any Husker program. Rachel Martin’s rifle team captured honors for just the second time and first since 2009. The team GPA of 3.744 is the second-highest for any Husker program since the award was first presented in 1995.

Life Skills presented the fifth annual Sam Foltz 27 Hero Leadership Awards Tuesday evening. 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 2021 Heart & Soul winners were Emily Cheramie (Rifle), Kaitlynn Johnson (Women’s Cross Country), Kate Smith (Women’s Golf) and Emma Worley (Women’s Tennis).

Life Skills also honored the members of the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team, as a total of 259 student-athletes were recognized. Husker student-athletes volunteered to impact nearly 25,000 people throughout the state of Nebraska in 2020-21.

Overall, a total of 361 Huskers earned academic medallions at A Night at the Lied. Gold medallions (123) were presented to those for highest academic honors (3.75-4.00 grade-point average). Silver medallions (96) were awarded to those for high honors (3.50-3.749 GPA), while bronze medallions (142) were presented to student-athletes with honors (3.00-3.499 GPA).

2021 University of Nebraska Athletic/Academic/Life Skills Awards
Female Student-Athlete of the Year & Big Ten Medal of Honor: Abigail Knapton (Swimming/Diving)
Male Student-Athlete of the Year & Big Ten Medal of Honor: Evan Hymanson (Gymnastics)

Best Female Athlete: Abigail Knapton (Swimming/Diving)
Best Male Athlete:
 Burger Lambrechts Jr. (Track and Field)


Outstanding Female Newcomer: Crystal Elliott (Bowling)
Outstanding Male Newcomer
: Taylor Christopulos (Gymnastics)


Outstanding Scholar Awards (8): Grace Brown (Soccer), Hayley Densberger (Volleyball), Erika Freyhof (Women’s Cross Country/Track), Andy Jacobs (Women’s Track), Abigail Knapton (Swimming/Diving), Isabelle Murray (Swimming), Tucker Sjomeling (Wrestling), Hannah Thiele (Women’s Golf)

Heart & Soul Awards (4): Emily Cheramie (Rifle); Kaitlynn Johnson (Women’s Cross Country); Kate Smith (Women’s Golf); Emma Worley (Women’s Tennis)

Men’s Herman Team GPA Award
: Cross Country (3.539 GPA)
Women’s Herman Team GPA Award: Rifle (3.744 GPA)

Sam Foltz 27 Hero Leadership Awards (27): Noor Ahmed (Women’s Golf); Kinga Aletto (Rifle); Grace Brown (Soccer); Patrick Cacciatore (Men’s Tennis); Sam Haiby (Women’s Basketball); Austin Jablonski (Football); Chelsey Jones (Women’s Track and Field); Judi Jones (Women’s Track and Field); Michael Knowles (Men’s Track and Field); Dylan LeClair (Men’s Gymnastics); Madison Lueger (Women’s Track and Field); Taylor Kissinger (Women’s Basketball); Ellie Kuckelman (Women’s Tennis); Lane McCallum (Football); Micaylon Moore (Men’s Track and Field); Jessica Pentlarge (Swimming and Diving); Sam Phillips (Men’s Gymnastics); Ethan Piper (Football); Margaret Pollard (Women’s Cross Country); Rachel Powers (Swimming and Diving); Theresa Pujado (Soccer); Cassidy Ray ( Bowling); Kynsee Roby (Women’s Gymnastics); Megan Verceles Carr (Women’s Gymnastics); Courtney Wallace (Softball); Megan Whittaker (Women’s Golf); Riley Zuhn (Volleyball).

Categories: Husker Sports, Sports