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2022-23 Rock M’mys: Newcomer of the Year

In a year of change, these nominees made quite the name for themselves on the playing field.

Josh Matejka, Karen Steger Designs

It’s awards season at Rock M Nation, and we’ve got a lot to celebrate from the 2022-23 school year. New hires, postseason highs, incredible individual and team performances... There’s a lot of good things going on in CoMo, and we intend to talk about it.

And because we always strive to do things a bit differently around here, and because — let’s face it — I’m a bit extra, we’ve created our own award, the Rock M’my. Consider it to be part Emmy, part Espy, and all parts love of Mizzou Athletics. (pronounced Rock Emmy)

With the help of our team, we brainstormed award names and threw out some nominations. I encouraged them to not just consider the major sports and the top dogs, but to dig below the surface and select worthy nominees from all the teams. Luckily, our staff represents a diverse group of writers with knowledge about a variety of Mizzou sports, so this wasn’t too much of an ask. With each nomination, you’ll also find a bit of backstory, so you, the fans, can make an informed decision, because at the end of each post, you’ll vote. Forget to cast your ballot one day? No big deal. I’ll provide links to the other awards from the preceding posts.

Once all the votes for each award have been tabulated over the next few weeks, I’ll present a winners list, and that student-athlete will win our completely serious award that will undoubtedly be the greatest triumph of their lives thus far.

Voting closes July 4 at 7pm CST.

Let’s begin.

It seemed change was never-ending for Mizzou’s athletic teams in the 2022-23 season. We saw changes at the helm— HELLLLLLLLLO, Dennis Gates, Dawn Sullivan, Caroline Westrup, and Bianca Turati, and only just met Kerrick Jackson. And as with the new, out goes the old, so we said goodbye to Chris Wootton (didn’t make it to the end), Josh Taylor (good riddance), Steve Bieser, and Stephanie Priesmeyer. We also saw new facilities pop up like a new football practice facility, and others reach a level of being unplayable— gotta fix those courts, Desiree. We saw much-loved players transfer out in search of a brighter tomorrow, and just as many transfer in. We watched a new crop of freshmen come in, some with much fanfare and quite the athletic prowess.

I encouraged the staff to choose from coaches, transfers and freshmen alike. Weirdly enough, no one nominated Dennis Gates, a very obvious choice, so you’re left to decide amongst athletes in a variety of sports.

Here are the nominees for Newcomer of the Year:

Ashton Judd, Basketball

Judd, a freshman, proved that you don’t need to be ranked by major recruiting sites to have a major impact for a SEC team. When the team was in need of a mid-conference play spark, Judd provided it. She led all newcomers, Katlyn Gilbert and Averi Kroenke, in nearly every statistical category. Overall, she was fourth on the team in points per game with 7.4, third in rebounds with 3 and shot 46.1% from the field. She earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors twice, which paved way for being named part of the 2022-2023 All-SEC Freshman team. With much change in the offseason, she’ll be a go-to player going forward for Robin Pingeton’s squad. -Lauren Rosenberg

Ty’Ron Hopper, Football

Hopper’s 77 total tackles and team-leading 13.5 tackles for loss came as a result of his attacking mindset and sideline-to-sideline ability. The University of Florida transfer immediately changed the Tiger defense with his ability to penetrate into the backfield and fly around the field from his linebacker spot, and he jumped off the film in virtually every game he played. Hopper’s return in ‘23 is one of the main reasons that this Missouri defense will be feared next season. -Parker Gillam

Dalton Bargo, Baseball

Dalton Bargo came in and made himself a fixture of the Missouri lineup from the start of the season. The freshman from Nebraska slashed .279/.379/.442 with 5 HR to go with a 104 wRC+, sixth-best on the team. The highlight of his year has to be the missile he hit off Chase Burns against Tennessee. It set the tone in the first game of a double-header that Missouri went on to sweep. -Kortay Vincent

Alfons Bondesson, Men’s Golf

Alfons Bondesson wasn’t one of the biggest names new to campus this year, but he had a massive impact on the men’s golf team. The freshman from Sweden posted three top-10 finishes, including a Top 8 finish at the SEC Championship, which tied fellow teammate Charlie Crockett for the best finish by a Missouri golfer in the tournament. You can expect Bondesson will become a fixture of the men’s golf team for years to come. - Kortay Vincent

Clement Secchi, Men’s Swimming

The french graduate student from McGill University in Montreal claimed first team honors as he won the 200 Butterfly at February’s SEC Championships in 1:41.07, ranking him second all-time in Mizzou history. Mizzou’s 2023 lone SEC champion became just the Tigers’ second ever individual SEC champ (third overall), following in the footsteps of Mikel Schreuders in 2019. Secchi also finished third in the 100 fly.

What’s even crazier, he arrived to campus two weeks late after catching Covid after the European Championships, and still was able to put up top times and first place finishes against the swimming blue bloods in his lone season in the black and gold. -Karen Steger

D’Moi Hodge, Men’s Basketball

Need to distill MU’s style to its essence? The Cleveland State transfer did by leading the SEC in steals, feasting on leak outs in transition, and converting high-value jumpers in the half court. That efficiency was essential, too, with Isiaih Mosley unavailable for prolonged stretches. MU could work its half-court offense confident that if the ball found its way to Hodge, he’d likely to deliver the goods. — Matthew Harris

Colton Hawks, Wrestling**

I don’t know if you can necessarily consider him a newcomer unless you put him in the “New to the lineup” category but Hawks has arrived for Tiger Style. Setting in a rotation to start the season, he continued to push himself ultimately becoming a mainstay inside the starting lineup at 184lbs for the Tigers. Hawks finished the season reaching the NCAA Championships after taking home a 4th place finish at the Big 12 Championships. —Matthew Smith **Doesn’t technically fit the specifications, but I’ll allow it**

Addison Lawrence, Gymnastics

It’s not often you find a freshman in the regular rotation on multiple events in the gauntlet of SEC competition, but Addy Lawrence, the Olathe, KS native, proved to head coach Shannon Welker she could not only be trusted in the rotation, but also steely enough to serve in the all-important leadoff role to set the stage for her teammates. Before ending the season focusing primarily on balance beam, Lawrence also led off the vault rotation in key meets leading up to the postseason, helping the team earn wins over Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn.

As for the beam, after a truly disastrous performance against Kentucky in February (she fell twice), Lawrence dusted herself off and did not score below a 9.80 again the rest of the season, regaining her leadoff position in the postseason. Her highest score, a 9.975 earned in a quad meet vs. Ball State, UNC & SEMO, matched that of THE Beam Queen, Helen Hu. With the retirement of the aforementioned queen, Addy will be one to watch atop the beam lineup for years. -Karen Steger

Time to cast your ballot!


Newcomer of the Year

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Ashton Judd, Women’s Hoops
    (438 votes)
  • 6%
    Ty’Ron Hopper, Football
    (74 votes)
  • 0%
    Dalton Bargo, Baseball
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Alfons Bondesson, Men’s Golf
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Clement Secchi, Men’s Swimming
    (9 votes)
  • 16%
    D’Moi Hodge, Men’s Hoops
    (186 votes)
  • 36%
    Colton Hawks, Wrestling
    (420 votes)
  • 1%
    Addison Lawrence, Gymnastics
    (16 votes)
1149 votes total Vote Now