clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Michigan State unveils 2021-2022 major athletic award winners

Kenneth Walker III earns the George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year award, while Jenna Magness wins the Female Athlete of the Year award.

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Michigan State athletics department has announced its All-Sports Awards recipients for the 2021-2022 season.

The major awards include both the George Alderton Male and Female Athletes of the Year, Chester Brewer Leadership Award, Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award and Big Ten Conference Medals of Honor. The winners were selected by a panel of administrators and coaches.

Below is the full list of Spartan student athletes who earned the prestigious honors:

  • George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year – Kenneth Walker III (football)
  • George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year – Jenna Magness (women’s cross country/track & field)
  • Chester Brewer Leadership Award – Jack Winkler (men’s tennis)
  • Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award – Jack Winkler (men’s tennis)
  • Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor (Male) – Morgan Beadlescomb (men’s cross country/track & field)
  • Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor (Female) – Lea Mitchell (gymnastics)
  • Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award – Farai Mutatu (men’s soccer)/Mary Lewis (women’s tennis)

Kenneth Walker III wins George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year award

This is a well-deserved honor for Walker, who transferred from Wake Forest to Michigan State in 2021. While Walker was only at MSU for a single season, he made a lasting impact in East Lansing, and he will likely live in Spartan football lore forever. Walker played a huge part in Michigan State’s turnaround from a 2-5 season in 2020, as the Spartans finished the 2021 season with an 11-2 record and a Peach Bowl victory over Pittsburgh.

Walker’s very first touch as a Spartan went for a 75-yard touchdown run in a victory over the Northwestern Wildcats. He would go on to rush for 1,636 yards on 263 carries (6.2 yards per carry) and scored 18 rushing touchdowns, plus a receiving touchdown, in 12 games during the 2021 campaign.

The awards and accolades for Walker rolled in at the end of the year. He received the Doak Walker Award as the country’s top running back and the Walter Camp Player of the Year award, given to the top college football player in the nation, as selected by FBS head coaches and sports information directors. Walker became the first Spartan ever to win either trophy.

In addition, Walker earned unanimous All-American honors, received All-Big Ten first-team recognition, won the Big Ten Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year award, was named the Associated Press’ Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, and received many other accolades. He also holds the Michigan State football program record for the longest offensive play from scrimmage, with a 94-yard touchdown run against Rutgers on Oct. 9.

Walker also led the FBS in rushing yards after contact (1,168) and forced 89 missed tackles (second in the FBS), per Pro Football Focus. He also ranked first in the country in 20-plus yard runs with 21.

Walker was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft (No. 41 overall). He is the first MSU football player to earn the George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year award since Darqueze Dennard won it in 2014.

Jenna Magness earns back-to-back George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year honors

After being named the 2020-2021 George Alderton Female Athlete of the Year last year, Magness is the recipient of the award once again, after an even more impressive 2021-2022 season.

Combining her cross country, indoor track and outdoor track seasons, Magness ended her senior year by winning three Big Ten titles, three more All-American honors and a bronze medal at the NCAA Championships.

Magness’ accolades during cross country season included earning a bronze medal at the Big Ten Championships, finishing as the top Spartan and getting fourth-place overall at the NCAA Great Lakes Regionals, and running a personal-best 6K time of 19:42.1 to finish 14th in the NCAA Championships, which earned her second NCAA All-American award in cross country.

During the indoor track season, Magness won the mile at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational with a personal-best time of 4:41.31. She also took second at the IU Relays with a 3,000-meter time of 9:05.62, and then broke her own 5,000-meter Michigan State record with a winning time of 15:36.60 at the Music City Challenge. At the Big Ten Indoor Championships, Magness brought home a silver medal in the 3,000-meter run and repeated as the 5,000-meter champion. She finished indoor competition by placing sixth in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships, picking up NCAA first-team All-American honors.

Finally, during the outdoor season, Magness set a new personal record in the 1,500 meters to open the spring, winning the event at the Louisville Invitational with a time of 4:16.89. She then broke her previous MSU record for the outdoor 5,000 meters when she took second at the Virginia Challenge (15:26.21). Magness would then go on to become just the second Spartan ever to win the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters titles at the same Big Ten Outdoor Championships event, claiming the 10,000-meter crown in her first race at the distance and being named the Women’s Track Athlete of the Championships.

Magness also finished second in the 10,000 meters semifinals at the NCAA East Preliminary Round. She then finished her career by running a personal-best time of 32:59.96 to take the bronze medal in the 10,000-meter finals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which earned her NCAA first-team All-American honors once again.

Magness is the first Michigan State women’s athlete to win back-to-back George Alderton awards since golfer Sarah Burnham did so in 2017 and 2018. This is the fourth consecutive year that a Spartan track and field athlete has earned the top honor from Michigan State athletics, with Annie Fuller (2020) and Aysa Reynolds (2019) winning the award before Magness.

Other award winners:

Men’s tennis player Jack Winkler, a redshirt senior, is the recipient of both the Chester Brewer Leadership Award (“Presented to a graduating senior in his or her last year of eligibility for distinguished performance in athletics and scholarship and for possessing a high degree of leadership qualities and skill”) and the Dr. James Feurig Achievement and Service Award (“Presented to a male or female graduating senior involved in athletics as a competitor or in a supporting role. The recipient should carry a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 or better, and in addition to athletic and academic success, demonstrate involvement in school/campus and community activities”).

Winkler is just the fifth student-athlete all-time at Michigan State to win both awards in the same year. Winkler earned first-team All-Big Ten honors after playing at No. 1 singles during the 2021-2022 season. He is a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and the recipient of the 2022 Gwendolyn Norrell Community Service and Leadership award winner.

Winkler, who has battled Crohn’s disease, will actually be heading to SMU as a graduate transfer this fall.

Morgan Beadlescomb, the star graduate senior for the men’s cross country and track and field teams, is MSU’s male recipient of the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor, while fifth-year gymnast Lea Mitchell took home the honor on the women’s side. The Medal of Honor is awarded to “a male and female student-athlete at each conference institution for outstanding athletic and academic achievement.”

Beadlescomb is one of the most decorated athletes in MSU program history. He is a nine-time All-American selection. Beadlescomb has won three Big Ten crowns, owns six school records, earned Big Ten Distinguished Scholar honors in 2021 and is a four-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. He was also MSU’s George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year winner for the 2020-2021 year.

Mitchell earned 2022 CoSIDA Academic All-American honors. Throughout her Michigan State career, she was a four-time Academic All-Big Ten and WCGA Academic All-America selection and was named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar three times. In 2021, she became the first MSU female student-athlete and only the second Spartan overall to receive the prestigious Big Ten Conference Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award.

Additionally, Michigan State men’s soccer player Farai Mutatu and women’s tennis player Mary Lewis each won the Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award.