Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

All-Americans Lead 40 Husker Graduates

By NU Athletic Communications

Lincoln - A total of 40 Husker student-athletes will earn degrees Saturday at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s commencement exercises at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Nebraska’s talented collection of graduates will include 12 Nebraska football student-athletes, nine members of the track and field program, six Nebraska soccer players and five members of the Husker baseball program.

The strong collection of Husker student-athlete graduates includes seven All-Americans who combined for 13 All-America awards during their careers. The group is led by 2018 Nebraska Female Student-Athlete-of-the-Year Danielle Breen. The All-American gymnast was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American and claimed the NCAA Elite 90 Award as the competitor with the highest GPA at the 2018 NCAA Super Six. The accounting major from Ames, Iowa also captured a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 2018.

Breen is joined in the December graduating class by fellow Husker All-American gymnast Grace Williams, who was a two-time Big Ten balance beam champion and a 2018 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar as an elementary and special education (K-6) major.

The Nebraska men’s gymnastics team added an All-American of its own to the graduation list with Kyle King. An All-American on floor exercise for the Huskers in 2017, King was also a two-time Big Ten medalist on vault during his career before earning his degree in ethnic studies.

The track and field program brings a strong All-America tradition to the group of graduates, headlined by four-time All-American triple jumper Kaiwan Culmer. The three-time Big Ten champion from the Bahamas was also a four-time USTFCCCA All-Academic selection and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten choice as a construction management major.

Another four-time All-American for the track and field program, Landon Bartel was a two-time Big Ten high jump champion who was also a three-time USTFCCCA and Academic All-Big Ten honoree as a classics and religious studies major.

Three-time All-American Sam Bransby aided three Nebraska relay teams to national honors as a sprinter for the Huskers. He was also a three-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar as an elementary education major.

On the women’s side, thrower Toni Tupper earned All-America honors in the shot put for the Huskers, while also claiming USTFCCCA and Academic All-Big Ten accolades three times as a child, youth and family studies major.

Coach Gary Pepin’s track and field program adds Haley Harsin, Virginia Hill, Wyatt McGuire, Tre Mitchell and Morgan Pieri to Nebraska’s December graduation list.

The Nebraska bowling team contributes a distinguished graduate of its own with two-time All-American Kelly Belzeski. A two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar as a social science education major, Belzeski helped the Huskers to four top-four national finishes in her career, including the 2015 NCAA championship. She was also a three-time member of the NTCA All-Academic Team and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection.

Headlining the list of Husker football graduates is running back Devine Ozigbo, who earned third-team All-Big Ten honors after rushing for 1,082 yards as a senior while finishing No. 25 on Nebraska’s all-time rushing list with 2,196 career yards.

On the defensive side, linebacker Dedrick Young II will earn a degree after registering a career-high 83 tackles for the Huskers as a senior. Young finished No. 5 on Nebraska’s career tackles list with 284 and was an Academic All-Big Ten choice as a supply chain management major.

Fellow senior starter Aaron Williams added 70 tackles in 2018 to become just the sixth defensive back in Husker history to finish with 200 career tackles.

Defensive backs Eric Lee and Avery Anderson will both earn their degrees prior to their senior seasons, along with junior offensive lineman Jalin Barnett. Football’s graduating class also includes Cole Conrad, Matt Jarzynka, Sedrick King, Jordan Ober, Bryan Reimers and Austin Rose.

The six student-athletes from Coach John Walker’s soccer program are led by Haley Hanson, who was a second-team United Soccer Coaches All-Midwest Region selection as a senior in 2017. A two-time All-Big Ten midfielder, Hanson was also a three-time Academic All-Big Ten choice as a communication studies major. Fellow 2017 starting midfielder Sami Reinhard joins Hanson among the Husker graduates, along with two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Alexis Rienks. Lia Baldo, Lauren Smith and Nikki Turney round out the list of soccer graduates.

The list of five graduates from Coach Darin Erstad’s Husker baseball program include three-time Major League draft pick Luis Alvarado, who spent the summer of 2018 in the Rookie Leagues with the Orem Owlz and the Arizona League Angels after completing his Nebraska career. The pitcher/outfielder from Salinas, Puerto Rico helped the Huskers capture the Big Ten regular-season title in 2017 and earned Academic All-Big Ten honors as a hospitality, restaurant and tourism management major in 2018. Brison Cronenbold, Byron Hood, Zac Repinski and Mitch Steinhoff join Alvarado among the Husker baseball graduates.

Coach Rhonda Revelle’s Nebraska softball program contributed a pair of 2018 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars to the group of Husker graduates, including Caitlin Bartsch and Gina Metzler. Both Huskers were also three-time Academic All-Big Ten selections.                                       

Rounding out the list of 40 Husker graduates are Jordan Ehly (Swimming & Diving) and Audrey Judd (Women’s Golf), who were both three-time Academic All-Big Ten selections in their respective sports.

The December graduates came from near and far to call Nebraska home during their careers. The group came to Lincoln from 18 states, including 11 native Nebraskans, while Huskers also came from the Bahamas, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Nebraska continues to feature one of the highest graduation rates in the country, while leading the nation in the number of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans (333) and NCAA Top 10 Award winners (17) across all sports.

December 2018 Nebraska Student-Athlete Graduates (40)

Student-Athlete (Sport) - Hometown (Major)

Luis Alvarado (Baseball) - Salinas, Puerto Rico (Hospitality, Restaurant & Tourism Management)

Avery Anderson (Football) - Surprise, Arizona (Advertising & Public Relations)

Lia Baldo (Soccer) - Glenview, Illinois (Advertising & Public Relations)

Jalin Barnett (Football) - Lawton, Oklahoma (Psychology)

Landon Bartel (Track & Field) - Ashland, Missouri (Classics & Religious Studies)

Caitlin Bartsch (Softball) - The Woodlands, Texas (Elementary & Special Education K-6)

Kelly Belzeski (Bowling) - Schererville, Indiana (Social Science Education)

Sam Bransby (Track & Field) - Naperville, Illinois (Elementary Education)

Danielle Breen (Women’s Gymnastics) - Ames, Iowa (Accounting)

Cole Conrad (Football) - Fremont, Nebraska (Criminology & Criminal Justice)

Brison Cronenbold (Baseball) - Thousand Oaks, California (Psychology)

Kaiwan Culmer (Track & Field) - Nassau, Bahamas (Construction Management)

Jordan Ehly (Swimming & Diving) - Las Cruces, New Mexico (Advertising & Public Relations)

Haley Hanson (Soccer) - Overland Park, Kansas (Communication Studies)

Haley Harsin (Track & Field/Cross Country) - Syracuse, Nebraska (Biological Sciences)

Virginia Hill (Track & Field) - Haymarket, Virginia (Political Science [Master’s Degree])

Byron Hood (Baseball) - Roca, Nebraska (Management)

Matt Jarzynka (Football) - Loup City, Nebraska (Agribusiness)

Audrey Judd (Women’s Golf) - Olathe, Kansas (Management/Marketing)

Kyle King (Men’s Gymnastics) - Mesquite, Texas (Ethnic Studies)

Sedrick King (Football) - Plant City, Florida (Economics)

Eric Lee (Football) - Milton, Massachusetts (Management)

Wyatt McGuire (Track & Field/Cross Country) - North Platte, Nebraska (Elementary Education)

Gina Metzler (Softball) - Omaha, Nebraska (Nutrition & Health Sciences)

Tre Mitchell (Track & Field) - Ladera Ranch, California (Psychology)

Jordan Ober (Football) - Las Vegas, Nevada (Communication Studies)

Devine Ozigbo (Football) - Sachse, Texas (Advertising & Public Relations)

Morgan Pieri (Track & Field) - Prior Lake, Minnesota (Sociology)

Bryan Reimers (Football) - Lincoln, Nebraska (Management)

Sami Reinhard (Soccer) - Long Beach, California (Advertising & Public Relations)

Zac Repinski (Baseball) - Prior Lake, Minnesota (Communication Studies)

Alexis Rienks (Soccer) - Lincoln, Nebraska (Food Science & Technology)

Austin Rose (Football) - Lincoln, Nebraska (Criminology & Criminal Justice)

Lauren Smith (Soccer) - Glenview, Illinois (Psychology)

Mitch Steinhoff (Baseball) - Crete, Nebraska (Business Administration/Management)

Toni Tupper (Track & Field) - Lincoln, Nebraska (Child, Youth & Family Studies)

Nikki Turney (Soccer) - Surrey, British Columbia, Canada (English)

Aaron Williams (Football) - Atlanta, Georgia (Communication Studies)

Grace Williams (Women’s Gymnastics) - Linden, Michigan (Elementary & Special Education K-6)

Dedrick Young II (Football) - Peoria, Arizona (Supply Chain Management)

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