Nine-time All-American and CoSIDA Academic All-American Cody Rush leads a class a 57 Husker graduates.
Photo by Nate Olsen/Nebraska Communications

57 Huskers Earn Degrees Saturday

By NU Athletic Communications

Lincoln - A total of 57 Husker student-athletes who combined for 45 All-America awards during their Husker careers received diplomas at University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s commencement exercises at Pinnacle Bank Arena Saturday morning. 

Coach Gary Pepin’s men’s and women’s track and field program made up more than one-third of Nebraska’s graduating class of successful student-athletes. A total of 20 members of the track and field team earned degrees, including nine-time NCAA All-American Cody Rush (Grand Island, Neb.). The senior, who was a second-team CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2015, could earn more All-America awards on the track and in the classroom before his career ends at Nebraska.

Six-time All-American Chad Wright (Kingston, Jamaica), who was the 2012 NCAA discus champion, earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics, while fellow six-time NCAA All-American Ricco Hall (Kentwood, Mich.) earned his degree in psychology.

Three-time All-American Jacob Bender (Naperville, Ill.) and All-American Marusa Cernjul (Celje, Slovenia) added more strength to a distinguished group of five track and field student-athletes who combined for 25 NCAA All-America awards.

Other track and field graduates included Paula Andrie (Gillette, Wyo.), Melanie Blum (Wahoo, Neb.), Nolan Border (Lincoln, Neb.), Craig Driver (Minden, Neb.), Chantal Duncan (Kingston, Jamaica), Guy Fenske (Sargent, Neb.), Breunna McCarty (Omaha, Neb.), Tess Merrill (Grand Island, Neb.), Madelyn Osmundson (Overland Park, Kan.), Jake Pinion (Blair, Neb.), Siera Rohde (Ansley, Neb.), Sam Shaw (Aurora, Neb.), Beau Simmons (Aurora, Neb.), Mitchell Westberry (Omaha, Neb.) and Morgan Woitzel (Omaha, Neb.).

Many of the track and field graduates were in action at Ed Weir Stadium on Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers played host to the Nebraska Invitational.

The Nebraska football program added seven graduates to Saturday’s commencement, after a trio of former Huskers earned master’s degrees at Friday’s graduate commencement at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Givens Price (Houston, Texas) earned his master’s degree in accountancy, while Kevin Williams (Holland, Ohio) claimed his master’s degree in construction engineering and management and Paul Kelly (Davie, Fla.) added his master's degree in applied science for educators.

Punter Sam Foltz (Greeley, Neb.) headlined a pair of Husker football graduates who expect to play the 2016 season with degree in hand, including defensive back Charles Jackson (Spring, Texas). Other former Husker football players to earn diplomas on Saturday included Lane Hovey (Adel, Iowa), Chris Long (Blair, Neb.), Eric Martin (Moreno Valley, Calif.), Greg McMullen (Akron, Ohio) and Paul Thurston (Arvada, Colo.).

Two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American Shavon Shields (Olathe, Kan.) and junior Andrew White III (Richmond, Va.) gave Coach Tim Miles’ men’s basketball program an impressive pair of graduates. Shields, who was the 2016 Nebraska Male Student-Athlete of the Year and Nebraska’s 2016 Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient, was also a member of the 2016 Allstate NABC Good Works Team. On the court, Shields and White were both All-Big Ten selections in 2016.

All-American Rachel Theriot (Middleburg Heights, Ohio) added a graduate for the women’s basketball program. The 2014 Big Ten Tournament MVP and three-time All-Big Ten selection earned honorable-mention All-America accolades in 2014.

Coach Dan Kendig’s women’s gymnastics program added a strong All-America flavor to the May graduates with nine-time All-American Jessie DeZiel (Rogers, Minn.). The 2015 Nebraska Female Student-Athlete of the Year was also a Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient for the Huskers.

Coach Chuck Chmelka’s men’s gymnastics program added a pair of impressive graduates with Ethan Lottman (Gretna, Neb.) and Ryan Irick (Wichita, Kan.). Lottman was a two-time All-American on pommel horse for the Huskers during his career while adding CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 2015. Both Lottman and Irick are candidates for CoSIDA Academic All-America awards in 2016.

Four-time NCAA All-American James Green (Willingboro, N.J.) headlined an impressive class of five wrestlers earning degrees for Coach Mark Manning’s program. Green, who finished third at the 2014 and 2015 NCAA Championships, went on to win the freestyle championship at the 2015 U.S. World Team Trials at 154 pounds, before earning a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships.

Austin Wilson (Hastings, Neb.) added an All-America award at 165 pounds for the Huskers at the 2016 NCAA Championships. Those two Husker All-Americans were joined by Anthony Abidin (Dix Hills, N.Y.), Eric Coufal (Howells, Neb.) and Tyrell Galloway (Omaha, Neb.) in Nebraska’s graduating class of wrestlers.

Coach Pablo Morales’ Nebraska women’s swimming and diving program added six May graduates. The swimming and diving team, which won Nebraska’s Herman Team GPA Award in 2015 and 2016 as the women’s program with the highest cumulative combined grade-point average, also won the Life Skills Award of Excellence team competition in 2013 and 2014 as Nebraska’s most committed program to community service. Taryn Collura (Phoenix, Ariz.), Michaela Cunningham (Severna Park, Md.), Kelly Dunn (Winfield, Ill.), Jacqueline Juffer (Wagner, S.D.), Katt Sickle (Grain Valley, Mo.) and Krista Van Wie (Grand Island, Neb.) also brought the six swimming and diving graduates together from six states to give Nebraska one of its most successful programs in the classroom and community.

Three-time All-American Denise Martin (Chewelah, Wash.) highlighted a trio of graduates for Coach Ashley Rose-MacAllister’s rifle team. Martin was joined by Marissa Major (Arvada, Colo.) and Alexandrea Lorentz (Anchorage, Alaska) in the May graduating class.

Coach Kerry McDermott’s men’s tennis program graduated a pair of 2016 seniors in three-time All-Big Ten selection Dusty Boyer (Ham Lake, Minn.) and Andrew Dzulynsky (Miramar, Fla.). Coach Scott Jacobson’s women’s tennis program added a pair of 2016 seniors as well with Maggy Lehmicke (Kirkland, Wash.) and Lauren Wagner (Roslyn Heights, N.Y.).

The Nebraska men’s golf program contributed a pair of graduates in Calvin Freeman (Table Rock, Neb.) and Cameron Palmer (Gilbert, Ariz.), while the women’s golf team added Cassie Deeg (Hugo, Minn.). Single graduates from baseball (Taylor Fish, Kearney, Neb.), soccer (Jaylyn Odermann, Gretna, Neb.) and softball (Emily Lockman, Corona, Calif.) rounded out the May graduating class.

NU’s May 2016 graduates came from near and far to call Nebraska home during their careers. The group came to Lincoln from 20 states, including 23 native Nebraskans. Members of the graduating class also came from Slovenia and Jamaica.

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 (321) and NCAA Top 10 Award winners (17) across all sports.

May 2016 Nebraska Student-Athlete Graduates (57)

  • Anthony Abidin (Wrestling) Dix Hills, N.Y. [Sociology]
  • Paula Andrie (Track & Field) Gillette, Wyo. [Biological Systems Engineering]
  • Jacob Bender (Track & Field) Naperville, Ill. [Finance]
  • Melanie Blum (Track & Field) Wahoo, Neb. [Forensic Science]
  • Nolan Border (Track & Field) Lincoln, Neb. [Nutrition Science]
  • Dusty Boyer (Men’s Tennis) Ham Lake, Minn. [Communication Studies]
  • Marusa Cernjul (Track & Field) Celje, Slovenia [Nutrition, Exercise & Health Science]
  • Taryn Collura (Swimming & Diving) Phoenix, Ariz. [Psychology/Film Studies]
  • Eric Coufal (Wrestling) Howells, Neb. [Agribusiness]
  • Michaela Cunningham (Swimming & Diving) Severna Park, Md. [Biological Sciences/Mathematics]
  • Cassie Deeg (Women’s Golf) Hugo, Minn. [Marketing]
  • Jessie DeZiel (Women’s Gymnastics) Rogers, Minn. [Nutrition, Exercise & Health Science]
  • Craig Driver (Track & Field) Minden, Neb. [Nutrition Science]
  • Chantal Duncan (Track & Field) Kingston, Jamaica [Ethnic Studies]
  • Kelly Dunn (Swimming & Diving) Winfield, Ill. [Marketing]
  • Andrew Dzulynsky (Men’s Tennis) Miramar, Fla. [Criminology & Criminal Justice]
  • Guy Fenske (Track & Field) Sargent, Neb. [Nutrition, Exercise & Health Science]
  • Taylor Fish (Baseball) Kearney, Neb. [Mathematics]
  • Sam Foltz (Football) Greeley, Neb. [Agronomy]
  • Calvin Freeman (Men’s Golf) Table Rock, Neb. [History]
  • Tyrell Galloway (Wrestling) Omaha, Neb. [Electrical Engineering]
  • James Green (Wrestling) Willingboro, N.J. [Sociology]
  • Ricco Hall (Track & Field) Kentwood, Mich. [Psychology]
  • Lane Hovey (Football) Adel, Iowa [Finance]
  • Ryan Irick (Men’s Gymnastics) Wichita, Kan. [Nutrition Science]
  • Charles Jackson (Football) Spring, Texas [Ethnic Studies]
  • Jacqueline Juffer (Swimming & Diving) Wagner, S.D. [Economics]
  • Maggy Lehmicke (Women’s Tennis) Kirkland, Wash. [Journalism]
  • Emily Lockman (Softball) Corona, Calif. [Psychology]
  • Chris Long (Football) Blair, Neb. [Child, Youth & Family Studies]
  • Alexandrea Lorentz (Rifle) Anchorage, Alaska [Political Science/Sociology]
  • Ethan Lottman (Men’s Gymnastics) Gretna, Neb. [Art]
  • Marissa Major (Rifle) Arvada, Colo. [Global Studies]
  • Denise Martin (Rifle) Chewelah, Wash. [Business Administration]
  • Eric Martin (Football) Moreno Valley, Calif. [Sociology]
  • Breunna McCarty (Track & Field) Omaha, Neb. [Criminology & Criminal Justice]
  • Greg McMullen (Football) Akron, Ohio [Criminology & Criminal Justice]
  • Tess Merrill (Track & Field) Grand Island, Neb. [Finance/Management]
  • Jaylyn Odermann (Soccer) Gretna, Neb. [Communication Studies]
  • Madelyn Osmundson (Track & Field) Overland Park, Kan. [Speech-Language Pathology]
  • Cameron Palmer (Men’s Golf) Gilbert, Ariz. [Finance]
  • Jake Pinion (Track & Field) Blair, Neb. [Marketing]
  • Siera Rohde (Track & Field) Ansley, Neb. [Animal Science]
  • Cody Rush (Track & Field) Grand Island, Neb. [Nutrition Science]
  • Sam Shaw (Track & Field) Aurora, Neb. [Communication Studies]
  • Shavon Shields (Men’s Basketball) Olathe, Kan. [Biological Sciences]
  • Katt Sickle (Swimming & Diving) Grain Valley, Mo. [Elementary Education]
  • Beau Simmons (Track & Field) Aurora, Neb. [Agronomy]
  • Rachel Theriot (Women’s Basketball) Middleburg Heights, Ohio [Child, Youth & Family Studies]
  • Paul Thurston (Football) Arvada, Colo. [Broadcasting]
  • Krista Van Wie (Swimming & Diving) Grand Island, Neb. [Psychology]
  • Lauren Wagner (Women’s Tennis) Roslyn Heights, N.Y. [Marketing]
  • Mitchell Westberry (Track & Field) Omaha, Neb. [Nutrition, Exercise & Health Science]
  • Andrew White (Men's Basketball) Richmond, Va. [Sociology]
  • Austin Wilson (Wrestling) Hastings, Neb. [Biological Sciences]
  • Morgan Woitzel (Track & Field) Omaha, Neb. [Child, Youth & Family Studies]
  • Chad Wright (Track & Field) Kingston, Jamaica [Mathematics]

Advanced Degrees (Friday)

  • Paul Kelly (Football) Davie, Fla. [Master of Applied Science - Science for Educators]
  • Givens Price (Football) Houston, Texas [Accountancy (MPAC)]
  • Kevin Williams (Football) Holland, Ohio [Construction Engineering & Management (CEMT-MS)]

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