Fort Hays State junior wrestler Brandon Ball has been selected as a finalist for the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association's Ken B. Jones Award, announced Tuesday (May 21) by the league office. The annual award recognizes the conference's male and female student-athletes of the year.
The winners will be announced at the 2018-19 MIAA Awards Celebrations presented by Husch Blackwell on Monday, June 3 at the Truman Forum Auditorium in the Kansas City Public Library's Plaza Branch.
A 15-member panel of athletics directors, senior woman administrators, faculty athletics representatives and sports information directors - including a representative from each member institution - select the finalists. Each nominee is judged in three areas - 2018-19 athletic accomplishments, career academic accomplishments and 2018-19 campus/community service.
Ball, a native of Great Bend, Kan., is the only junior among this year's five male finalists. He will be joined in Kansas City by Emporia State's Landon Nault (football), Lincoln's Grant Olsson (basketball), Nebraska-Kearney's Jacob Bartling (track & field) and Pittsburg State's Levi Wyrick (football and track & field).
Ball was one of the top wrestlers in NCAA Division II this season, holding the No. 1 ranking at 141 pounds from February 4 all the way through the NCAA Championships. He entered the national championships with an unblemished 24-0 record and won his first three matches before dropping an overtime decision in the national semifinals. He battled back to earn his second All-America honor with a fourth-place finish, concluding the season 28-2 overall.
Ball was the champion of the 141-pound weight class at the NCAA Super Region IV Championships, the Bethany Swede Open and the Bob Smith Open as well as earning the 2018-19 MIAA Dual Meet Championship at 141 pounds. He pushed his career record to 114-21, good for a .844 winning percentage.
Ball maintains a 3.80 cumulative GPA as a technology studies major and was recently named a CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree, making him one of 85 nominees for Academic All-America honors from the NCAA Division II sports of wrestling, fencing, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, rifle, skiing, swimming, tennis, volleyball, and water polo. He is also a three-time member of the NWCA Division II All-Academic Team, a three-time recipient of the MIAA Scholar-Athlete Award, a four-time member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll and a four-time recipient of the FHSU Athletic Department Academic Excellence Award.
Off the mat and outside the classroom, Ball donated his time to help with multiple events and organizations. He helped behind the scenes with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure as well as the SAAC dodgeball tournament. Ball volunteered his time to help coach wrestling at Hoisington High School and the Hoisington Kids Club while also serving in his church youth group.
The female nominee from Fort Hays State was senior basketball player Tatyana Legette. Legette wrapped up her senior season with multiple All-America honors while being named MIAA Player of the Year. The Topeka, Kan. native holds a 3.39 GPA as a Health and Human Performance major while donating her time to numerous charitable organizations around town.