Award Winners Announced at Senior Student-Athlete Reception

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Several Big Ten Conference and University awards were presented at the 2024 UI Athletics Senior Student-Athlete Reception Friday afternoon at Kinnick Stadium.

Samantha Cary (soccer) and Gratt Reed (men’s track and field) were named Iowa’s Big Ten Medal of Honor recipients, Vipasha Mehra (tennis) and Jeremiah Pittman (football) were awarded Big Ten Post-Graduate Scholarships, Nylah Perry (women’s track and field) and Deontae Craig (football) earned the Center for Inclusive Academic Excellence Student Leadership Award, and MJ McNary (field hockey) and Daniel Klysh (men’s cross country/track & field) 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.”

A two-year team captain, Cary finished her career as the all-time leader in minutes (8,322), games played (97) and starts (96) at Iowa. She helped the Hawkeyes to each of the first two Big Ten Tournament titles in program history. Anchored by Cary, the Iowa defense held opponents to a program record 13 shutouts and 0.76 goals against average last season. Cary was named Defensive Player of the 2023 Big Ten Tournament and was a three-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week last fall. The St. Charles, Missouri, native was a second-team All-Big Ten honoree, a four-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, and served at the Iowa Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (ISAAC) president for the 2022-23 academic year. She is Iowa’s first United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-American and the first Hawkeye selected in the NWSL Draft. Cary currently plays for IFK Norrköping in Sweden’s top professional league.

Reed, a native of Atlantic, Iowa, is a six-time All-American in the sprints and hurdles for the Hawkeyes. He has made is mark in the Iowa record books, running on school record-setting 4×100-meter (38.64) and shuttle hurdle relays (56.74). He has run on four of the top 10 4×100-meter relays in school history, ranks fourth in school history in the indoor 200 meters (20.82), fifth in the 110-meter hurdles (13.50), and sixth in the 60-meter hurdles (7.72) and the outdoor 200 meters (20.54). Gratt is a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, a four-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, a three-time USTFCCCA All-Academic Team member, a six-time UI Dean’s List student, and served as an ISAAC representative during his collegiate career.


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.

During her four seasons as a Hawkeye, Mehra has been a mainstay in the Hawkeye lineup, winning more than 80 combined singles and doubles matches. She was ranked as high as No. 45 nationally in doubles during her career.  Off the court, the Calgary, Alberta, native is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, a Dean’s List honoree and a PCA medallion recipient, while also being Iowa’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award recipient in 2023.  She also was the team’s ISAAC representative for two years and was the ISAAC representative on the Presidential Committee on Athletics. Mehra plans to attend dental school upon graduation from the University of Iowa.

Pittman has played in 13 games during his Hawkeye career, including 10 games last season on the defensive line. A native of Palatine, Illinois, he helped the Hawkeyes advance to bowl games each of the past two seasons (Music City and Citrus). Pittman is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and served as ISAAC representative. He plans to enroll in the University of Iowa Masters in Finance program in the fall.


The Center for Inclusive Academic Excellence Student Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have made meaningful contributions to the University of Iowa or surrounding communities through their vision and action; their sense of responsibility, devotion, and diligence; and through their inspiration, good judgment, and will. Students receive a certificate designating them as Student Leadership Award recipients.

Perry, a native of Sicklerville, New Jersey, anchored the team-leading 4×400-meter relay to second place at the 2024 Big Ten Indoor Championships. She has run on 4×400-meter relays that rank sixth (3:34.24) and seventh (3:34.29) in school history, as well as holding the seventh-best time in the indoor 400 meters (53.37) and the ninth-best time in the 400-meter hurdles (58.28). Perry is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and Dean’s List student, and a USTFCCCA All-Academic Team member.

Craig has played in 38 games during his Hawkeye career, including starting all 14 games on the defensive line last season. A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, he helped the Hawkeyes advance to three straight bowl games (Citrus, Music City, Citrus). Craig was an honorable mention all-conference honoree in 2023 and was co-recipient of the Coaches Appreciation Award in 2022 and 2023. Craig was one of six juniors voted to the Player Council. His junior season, he recorded 54 tackles, including five for loss and three sacks, and seven quarterback hurries. As a sophomore, he registered 31 tackles and single-season bests in tackles for loss (10), sacks (6.5), and forced fumbles (3). Craig also blocked his first career punt, which led to Iowa’s first touchdown in its 2022 win over Wisconsin. His redshirt freshman season, he tallied 14 tackles, including three for loss.


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.

McNary is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and a three-time NFHCA National Academic Squad Selection from Glenview, Illinois. She has appeared in six career games and totaled 55 mins of action for the Hawkeyes.  In addition to being a senior leader on the field hockey team that made its sixth straight and 28th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history MJ is also Co-President of ISAAC. She is a Student Representative on the Presidential Committee on Athletics. In addition to her on campus leadership roles she also traveled to Selma, Alabama, as part of the Big Ten Equality Coalition to participate in the Big Life Series: Selma to Montgomery and represented the Hawkeyes and Big Ten at the NCAA 2023 Convention.

Klysh, a native of Elmhurst, Illinois, is currently serving as ISAAC co-president. He is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and has been named to the Dean’s List twice. He competed during one cross country season and two indoor track seasons for the Hawkeyes.


Big Ten Medal of Honor
Samantha Cary (Soccer)
Gratt Reed (Men’s Track & Field)

Big Ten Post-Graduate Scholarships
Vipasha Mehra (Tennis)
Jeremiah Pittman (Football)

Center for Inclusive Academic Excellence Student Leadership Award
Nylah Perry (Women’s Track & Field)
Deontae Craig (Football)

Robert F. Ray Faculty Award
MJ McNary (Field Hockey)
Daniel Klysh (Men’s Cross Country/Track & Field)