IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa Department of Athletics recognized academic and athletic accomplishments of its student-athletes at the third annual Golden Herkys on Wednesday evening at Englert Theater in downtown Iowa City.
The event was an opportunity for student-athletes to socialize with their peers, while also celebrating the past year with the announcement of awards.
The event was highlighted by the announcement of senior Josey Jewell (football) and junior Megan Gustafson (women’s basketball) as “UI Athletes of the Year”. Gustafson and sophomore Jason Kerst (men’s tennis) were named “Hawkeyes of the Year,” which encompasses the athletic department core values of WIN, GRADUATE, DO IT RIGHT that focuses on athletic and academic achievement, as well as community service engagement.
Jewell earned unanimous consensus All-America honors, and was the recipient of the 2017 Lott IMPACT Trophy and Jack Lambert Award. He was the Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Year and the Linebacker of the Year while earning first team All-Big Ten honors. He led the Big Ten and ranked fourth nationally with 136 tackles. He ranks fourth in career tackles (437) and is just the third Hawkeye ever to record more than 115 tackles in three different seasons. Jewell was one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, and a semifinalist for the Bednarik and Butkus awards. Jewell in 2015 became the only sophomore under Kirk Ferentz to be named a permanent team captain, earning that recognition three straight seasons. A native of Decorah, Jewell also excelled in the classroom throughout his career. He carried a 3.25 GPA and earned his bachelor’s degree in Enterprise Leadership. He earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition for the third straight year as a senior and was recognized by the National Football Foundation as a member of the Hampshire Honor Society. Jewell was selected by the Denver Broncos in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Gustafson, who also snagged the Golden Herky for “Record Breaking Performance”, registered one of the best seasons in program history during her 2017-18 campaign. The Port Wing, Wisconsin, native averaged 25.7 points, 12.8 rebounds, and shot 67 percent from the field in 32 contests this season. Gustafson was named an All-American by seven different media outlets, including first team distinction for Sports Illustrated. The Big Ten Player of the Year and unanimous first team All-Big Ten selection was the NCAA Statistical Champion in points per game, field goal percentage, and field goals made. She broke single-season school records for points (823), rebounds (411), field goals made (320), field goal percentage (67.1), free throws made (183), free throws attempted (227), and double-doubles (28).
Kerst, who was 19-14 overall in singles competition, has served as an intern this season with Kara Park in Academic Services and has been involved in organizing the Golden Herkys, PCA fall and spring banquets, career fair, MLK Day of Service Town Hall and Bowling Social, and Fuels Stops. A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, he is the recipient of three academic scholarships, including the Henry B. Tippie Undergraduate Business Scholarship. Kerst is an ITA Academic All-America selection and PCA Medal of Honor recipient.
“Working on the Marketing Team for Golden Herkys has been an amazing experience,” said Kerst. “Morgan Rafferty and I enjoyed every second of scripting and filming the promotional videos for the show. The Golden Herkys is an incredibly special event because it is planned and put on for student-athletes, by student-athletes. Of course, we could not have made this night a reality without the help of Kara Park and numerous other staff, and we cannot thank them enough. We are so excited to see all of our work finally come to life at the Englert!”
“Working for the Golden Herkys this past month was an incredible experience!” said senior diver Morgan Rafferty. “As part of the marketing team, Jason Kerst and I have thoroughly enjoyed writing and filming the promotion videos. It has been an honor being such a vital part of this process.”
NCAA wrestling champion Spencer Lee took home two Golden Herkys — “Outstanding Newcomer” and “Outstanding Postseason Performance”, and his NCAA title win led to the “Best Reaction to a Play”. Lee, who posted a 22-2 record in his first season with the Hawkeyes, helped lead Iowa to a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
Junior Josh Jackson (football) and senior Jahisha Thomas (women’s track & field) earned the “Breakthrough Athlete” Golden Herkys. Jackson played an instrumental part in Iowa’s 55-24 upset over #3 Ohio State in 2017, which earned the “Best Upset” award. He also took home the “Best Play” Golden Herky for one of his three interceptions in the game.
A unanimous consensus All-American, Jackson was named the Big Ten Conference’s Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year, led the country in interceptions (8) and passes defended (26). He made 48 tackles in 13 games with 18 pass breakups. He returned eight interceptions 168 yards and two touchdowns. The eight interceptions tied the Iowa school record for single-season interceptions. Jackson was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Thomas, a native of London, United Kingdom, is a four-time All-American and two-time Big Ten champion for the Hawkeyes. She holds the school records in the indoor long jump (21-0 3/4, 6.42m) and triple jump (43-4 1/2 (13.22m), and her bests in those events in the outdoor season rank second in school history.
“I think the Golden Herkys is special because it’s a night where you get to have the entire Iowa Athletic community together in one room,” said sophomore golfer Sophie Liu. “It’s a night where we get to celebrate with each other and for each other. Having the show created by student-athletes means that we get a true representation of our achievements. It’s not often that we get this opportunity. It’s a very passionate room where you see all sports come together in the Hawkeye spirit.”
The Hawkeye baseball and women’s basketball teams earned the “Most Outstanding Team” awards. The baseball team finished the 2017 season with a 39-22 overall record — the fifth most victories in a single season in program history. The Hawkeyes won the first Big Ten Tournament title in school history to claim the program’s second NCAA Regional appearance in three seasons. The Hawkeyes won their final four Big Ten Conference series to finish 15-9 overall and tie for fourth in the regular season. The 15 wins are the second-most since 2008 and the program’s fourth top-four finish since 2000.
The women’s basketball team ended the season with a 24-8 overall record. The Hawkeyes tied for third in the Big Ten with an 11-5 mark. Iowa made its 25th NCAA Tournament appearance and its first since 2015, earning a No. 6 seed in the Kansas City region. The Hawkeyes finished the season ranked in the top-15 nationally in seven categories, including defensive rebounds per game (31), assists per game (21.4), field goal percentage (48.9), total assists (686), fewest fouls per game (13.2), fewest fouls (422), and free throw percentage (77.1).
“I’ve had the pleasure of working on the Golden Herkys the last two years,” said junior swimmer Ben Colin. “The Golden Herky Planning Committee took ownership of the task and embraced the challenge of planning. It is special to have awards given out to student-athletes in an event completely put together by them. I believe the event shows a true connection between the staff and the student-athletes. It gives us a chance to take on leadership roles and work with professionals to plan an event. We learned a lot and grew in the process. Plus it is awesome to see the successes of the sports here at Iowa recognized for everyone to see.”
2018 GOLDEN HERKY AWARD WINNERS
OUTSTANDING NEWCOMER — Spencer Lee (Wrestling)
OUTSTANDING POSTSEASON PERFORMANCE — Spencer Lee (Wrestling) – 2018 National Champion
LIP SYNC VIDEO — Men’s Gymnastics
MALE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE — Josh Jackson (Football)
FEMALE BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE — Jahisha Thomas (Women’s Track & Field)
BEST UPSET — Football – vs. No. 3 Ohio State
MALE MOST OUSTANDING TEAM — Baseball
FEMALE MOST OUSTANDING TEAM — Women’s Basketball
BEST PLAY — Josh Jackson (Football) – Interception vs. Ohio State
RECORD BREAKING PERFORMANCE — Megan Gustafson (Women’s Basketball) – Several season/career records
BEST REACTION TO A PLAY — Wrestling – Terry Brands jumps on Ben Berhow after Spencer Lee’s pin at NCAAs
STAFF-LETE — Kara Park (Student-Athlete Academic Services)
MALE HAWKEYE OF THE YEAR — Jason Kerst (Men’s Tennis)
FEMALE HAWKEYE OF THE YEAR — Megan Gustafson (Women’s Basketball)
SPRING 2017 MALE TEAM GPA – Men’s Cross Country
SPRING 2017 FEMALE TEAM GPA – Field Hockey
FALL 2017 MALE TEAM GPA – Men’s Golf
FALL 2017 FEMALE TEAM GPA – Women’s Cross Country
COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD — Softball and Women’s Gymnastics
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR — Josey Jewell (Football)
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR — Megan Gustafson (Women’s Basketball)