Diver, gymnast and field athlete represent the best of Falcon Athletics
As highly accomplished student-athletes, Kaila Butler, Talisa Lemke and Jovannah East were prepared to turn in their best seasons yet. All three had the goal of competing nationally in the post season, but these aspirations were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these season-ending disappointments, Lemke and East leave BGSU with their heads held high with exceptional academic performances and championship-level athletic accomplishments, while Butler looks forward to the coming season.
Kaila Butler has been setting records as a thrower on the Track and Field team since her first year at BGSU. During the 2016-17 season, she was the only freshman to qualify for the MAC Championship meet and set a new record with the top freshman performance in school history. A year later, Butler competed at the Indoor MAC Championships where she placed sixth and became the fifth best weight thrower in BGSU history.
Some of her biggest collegiate accomplishments took place during the 2019 Outdoor Track and Field season. Butler won the MAC Championship in hammer throw as well as qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships where she placed 12thto become a Second-Team All-American. She went on to win the Indoor MAC Championships during the 2020 season.
From a leadership standpoint Butler got involved early as an engaged member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. working in various roles to help coordinate SAAC’s community service efforts and nurture a positive team environment. Butler’s community service activities have included the Eastwood Elementary Reading Buddies, Special Olympics, Girls on the Run, Stem in the Park, CYO athletics, Heritage Corners Nursing Home, MLK Day of Service and more. Butler was elected to the captain’s role by her teammates, helping to set the stage for great success this past indoor season. Academically she has maintained a 3.66 GPA in education, having been named to the Dean’s List, Academic All-MAC team, and the USTFCCCA All-Academic Women’s Track and Field Team.
Butler looked back on her time thus far as a Division I student-athlete and explained how much being a thrower on the BGSU Track and Field team has impacted her life. “In addition to getting a double-degree and setting myself up for my career, I’ve been able to travel around and have once-in-a-lifetime experiences through the sport of Track and Field.”
During her first season at BGSU, Talisa Lemke was named MAC Freshman Diver of the Year and set multiple school records. One of her biggest collegiate accomplishments was qualifying for the NCAA Championships as a sophomore. “It was a great feeling to compete with athletes from all over the States at such a big event,” said Lemke.
She also was named MAC Co-Diver of the Year, Academic All-MAC and first-team All-MAC during the 2017-18 season. Lemke continued to soar to new heights, breaking her own records and advancing to the NCAA Diving Zones all four years. Despite the cancellation of this year’s NCAA Championships, Lemke was named to the CSCAA All-American team. She also was MAC Diver of the Year, MAC Most Outstanding Senior and MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete during the 2019-20 season. At the 2020 Ziggy Awards, Lemke was named Female Senior Scholar-Athlete of the Year and received the Falcon Medal of Honor.
Throughout her time at BGSU, Lemke has grown not only athletically, but also academically. As an international student from Germany, Talisa was presented with the typical first-year challenges, as well as English being her second language. Despite these headwinds, Talisa excelled from the very beginning as a Theater major with a specialization in Acting/Directing, maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.
Talisa was awarded the Cheney Academic Award by the BGSU Department of Theater and Film. This award is presented for the highest GPA in the graduating class of Theatre. And, for the second year in a row, she was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District Women's At-Large team. As part of District 5's First Team, Lemke was one of just 12 student-athletes selected (and just one of three from the MAC). Lemke went on to be named a Second Team Academic All-American by CoSIDA.
She has overcome the challenges of balancing academics and athletics. “It taught me good organization and communications skills as well as how to be a leader and be confident, which will always be helpful in the future and professional world,” Lemke noted. “I improved every year by learning new dives and scoring more points. It is great to see that each year the hard work pays off.” She plans on continuing her passion for theater here at BGSU, as she embarks on a new journey in our Theater Graduate Program.
Falcon Gymnastics also had an outstanding senior with numerous accomplishments throughout her time at BGSU. Jovannah East started off as a tremendous freshman student-athlete. She was named MAC Freshman of the Year and was a first-team All-MAC selection. During her sophomore year, East became just the second BGSU gymnast to ever reach the NCAA National Championships and the first Falcon ever to compete all-around at nationals. She was also MAC Vault Co-Champion that year.
Her competitive success did not end there. East qualified for the NCAA Regional competition in the all-around and received the title of Co-MAC Champion on beam during the 2019 season. Although she was unable to finish her senior season due to the pandemic, East still had an exceptional 2020 season. She was named MAC Gymnast of the Week three times and finished her career with 114 top three event finishes.
While competing at the national level throughout her gymnastics career, East also managed to maintain a good grade point average in her Sport Management major and General Business minor. She has a passion to see all sides of the athletics industry. and had the opportunity to intern with Falcon Football and the director of operations. This experience allowed her to see the day-to-day processes of a Division I team other than gymnastics. For her final semester, she sought out another internship, but this time at the high school level. It was important for her to see the process of developing high school student-athletes before coming to the collegiate level.
During their years representing BGSU, Butler, Lemke and East have shown the consistent, dedicated effort that is a hallmark of more than 400 Falcon student-athletes. We wish them all the best, confident that their academic and athletic successes at BGSU position them for a great future that is sure to reflect well on their alma mater; and we look forward to seeing Butler in action again this season.