IOWA CITY, Iowa — Several Big Ten Conference and University awards were presented at the 2023 UI Athletics Senior Student-Athlete Reception Friday afternoon at Kinnick Stadium.
Monika Czinano (women’s basketball) and Spencer Lee (wrestling) were named Iowa’s Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients, Jenny Cape (soccer) and Nick Trattner (men’s track & field) were awarded Big Ten Post-Graduate Scholarships, Amiya Jones (volleyball) and Kaevon Merriweather (football) earned the Center for Inclusive Academic Excellence Student Leadership Award, and McKenna Warnock (women’s basketball) and Ronan Kleu (men’s golf) earned the University’s Robert F. Ray Faculty Award.
The Big Ten Medal of Honor is the conference’s most exclusive award, and 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 male and one female student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.”
Czinano, a native of Watertown, Minn., finished her Iowa career with 2,413 points, 787 rebounds, and shot at least 67 percent the past four seasons. She is the fifth Hawkeye to net more than 2,000 points in a career, and the 17th Iowa women’s basketball player to be drafted or signed in the WNBA. Czinano broke the Big Ten Tournament single game field goal percentage record, going 11-of-12 (.917) to help Iowa to its 2023 Big Ten Championship victory over Ohio State. She reached double figures in 28 games this season, netting more than 20 points in 11 games. Czinano finished her decorated Hawkeye career with Unanimous First-Team All-Big Ten honors, was on the All-Big Ten Tournament, and earned honorable mention All-America honors from the Associated Press in 2022-23.
Lee, from Murrysville, Pa., had double ACL surgery in January 2022. He tore the ACL in his right knee in the 2019 NCAA finals and his left knee ACL in the 2021 Big Ten finals — two weeks prior to the NCAA Championships. Lee went on to claim his third national title competing on two torn ACLs, going 5-0 and outscoring his opponents, 59-8, to win at 125 pounds and lead Iowa to the 2021 NCAA team title. After undergoing double knee repair, Lee returned to the mat less than a calendar year from his surgery and went on to earn his fifth career All-America honor. He finished his collegiate career as a two-time Dan Hodge Trophy recipient, three-time NCAA and Big Ten champion and three-time Big Ten Wrestler of the Year. The three-time Academic All-Big Ten and three-time NWCA Scholar Athlete recipient had a 98-6 career record.
For the Big Ten Conference Postgraduate Scholarship, two student-athletes from each of the 14 Big Ten institutions who plan to continue their education at a graduate degree program were awarded a $7,500 scholarship, based primarily on academic achievements. Each Big Ten institution developed its own on-campus selection process when awarding the scholarships. Students must have maintained at least a 3.2 grade-point-average, demonstrated leadership qualities, served as an excellent role model and intended to continue their academic work beyond their baccalaureate degree at a graduate degree program. The scholarship will be used to pay expenses of the student’s postgraduate education to include such related activities as research and teaching, as well as other expenses such as tuition, fees, room and board, and required course-related supplies and books. In order to retain the scholarship, the recipient must be accepted into a full-time graduate degree program within three years from the fall semester after selection.
Cape, from Brookfield, Wis., was diagnosed with aplastic anemia as a junior in high school and took nearly a year off of soccer and school to get a bone marrow transplant. She still managed to come back and play soccer at a Division 1 level. Cape won team Hawk award (best on the field, classroom, and community) and is a four-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. She also scored the game winning goal in Iowa’s Big Ten Championship win. Jenny found out her aplastic anemia was back at the end of her junior year of college. She was forced to move back home to get treatment and another transplant and took another year off soccer and school. Jenny was the ultimate teammate during this process and we were all blessed for her to comeback for a fifth year and play in all 13 games – starting six – on the 2022 team.
Trattner, a native of Naperville, Ill., led the Hawkeyes in three races this season, including the Big Ten Preview, Weis-Crockett Invite, and the Big Ten Championships. He ranks among the top 10 performers in four events, including the program’s fourth fastest 6,000-meters (cross country), the fourth-fastest 5,000 meters (outdoor track), the sixth-fastest 5,000 meters (indoor track), the sixth fastest 10,000 meters (outdoor track), and the 10th fastest 3,000 meters (indoor track). He earned four Academic All-Big Ten honors.
The Center for Inclusive Academic Excellence Student Leadership Award goes to senior student-athletes, who because of their leadership have made significant contributions to the university and/or surrounding communities through his/her vision and action to advance diversity and inclusion.
Jones, a native of Indianapolis, Ind., led the Hawkeyes in kills, points per set, and aces during the 2022 season. She finished the season with a .315 hitting percentage and was named an Academic All-Big Ten honoree for the third time. In addition, she was a team captain and led on and off the court in the way she treated her teammates and people around her. In her career, she registered a career-high 17 kills three times and career-high seven service aces three times.
Merriweather, a native of Belleville, Mich., was named first-team All-America by Pro Football Focus, second-team All-America by Sporting News and Associated Press and third-team All-America by Phil Steele. Merriweather was named first-team All-Big Ten by Phil Steele, second-team All-Big Ten by Associated Press and honorable mention All-Big Ten by league coaches and media. He was named a Permanent Team Captain, defense, and earned the Coaches Appreciation Award, defense. He was also recognized with the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. His career statistics include 118 tackles, with four interceptions for 33 yards and one fumble return for a 30-yard touchdown. Merriweather was named Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week following Iowa’s win at Rutgers in 2022 as he had a fumble return touchdown and a pass interception. As a senior, Merriweather was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Jason Whitten Collegiate Man of the Year Award, while he was recognized by Iowa media with the Duke Slater Golden Gavel Award as a junior. That award is presented to the Iowa football player who not only is most cooperative with local media, but exhibits themselves with professional integrity in all interactions. He was a member of the Player Council as a junior and senior. He participated in the 2023 Senior Bowl and signed a free agent contract with Tampa Bay.
The Robert F. Ray Faculty Representative Award is named after a former dean and longtime UI faculty representative to the Big Ten Conference. The award is annually presented to a male and female student athlete who demonstrates outstanding academic and athletic excellence and leadership.
Warnock, from Madison, Wis., is the eighth player in school history to net 1,000 career points and 650 rebounds, playing in over 120 games as a Hawkeye. Warnock shot 38 percent or better from the three-point line in four seasons at Iowa. In her final season with the Hawkeyes, she averaged 10.9 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game, scoring a season-high 21 points in Iowa’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal vs. Maryland. Warnock earned All-Big Ten honors on two separate occasions and was Academic All-Big Ten three times.
Kleu, a native of Zollikerberg, Switzerland, played in six tournaments this spring as Iowa’s No. 2 golfer. He averaged 72.5 strokes through 17 rounds this year, shot 69 or lower on three occasions, and was named Iowa’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winner for men’s golf. Overall, Kleu posted a second-best, eight rounds at or below par. In two seasons with the Hawkeyes, he has ranked second on the team in stroke average and top-25 finishes each year. Kleu was the 2021 Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year at Columbus State.
IOWA’S SENIOR STUDENT-ATHLETE RECEPTION AWARD WINNERS
Big Ten Medal of Honor
Monika Czinano (Women’s Basketball)
Spencer Lee (Wrestling)
Big Ten Post-Graduate Scholarships
Jenny Cape (Soccer)
Nick Trattner (Men’s Track & Field)
Center for Inclusive Academic Excellence Student Leadership Award
Amiya Jones (Volleyball)
Kaevon Merriweather (Football)
Robert F. Ray Faculty Award
McKenna Warnock (Women’s Basketball)
Ronan Kleu (Men’s Golf)