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Smith, Sears, Burkholder, Crawford Take Top Honors At Goshen Awards Banquet

GOSHEN, Ind. — Seniors Ryan Smith and Sophia Sears were named Athletes of the Year while classmates Brenner Burkholder and Kate Crawford received Scholar-Athlete of the Year recognition Monday night at Goshen College’s inaugural Maple Leaf athletic awards dessert banquet.
Smith, a native of Albion, Indiana, has earned all-American honors in both cross country and indoor track and field this season while setting school records in five individual events. He has qualified for the outdoor national meet in three events entering this weekend’s conference championship. Smith beat out a field of nominees including soccer goalkeeper Johan Escalante, basketball guard Xavier Newson and baseball catcher Clinton Stroble II.

Sears earned NAIA all-American recognition for the second consecutive season, receiving honorable mention after scoring 13.7 points per game despite missing six games due to injury.  The Paoli, Indiana, native graduates with the school career and single-season records in free-throw percentage; on the career side, she is second in 3-point percentage, third in assists, fourth in steals, and 10th in both made free throws and points. Other nominees included softball pitcher Alexis Carpenter, soccer forward Ginyce Haywood and cross country and track runner Chelsea Foster.

Burkholder graduates with a 3.9984 grade-point average and a degree in environmental science; he ran cross country at Washburn Rural High School near Topeka, Kansas, before coming to Goshen. Crawford, a midfielder from Sagamore Hills, Ohio, graduates with a 3.9752 GPA in molecular biology and biochemistry.

The Male and Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards were sponsored by public accounting firm Crowe Horwath, founded in South Bend in 1942, which also provided refreshments for the evening. Other nominees included baseball pitcher Michael Walker, basketball guard Christian Grider, cross country/track runner Isaiah Friesen and tennis player Aritha Weerasinghe on the men’s side; Sears, cross country/track runners Megan Graves and Jill Steinmetz, and volleyball outside hitter Christy Swartzendruber formed the women’s field

Thirteen athletes received the #OneLeaf Leadership Award, with each head coach selecting a member of their team for that recognition. The thirteen athletes were, in alphabetical order:

  • Spencer Aeschliman (West Salem, Oregon), men’s soccer
  • Carter Boos (Grand Rapids, Michigan), men’s basketball
  • Calla Bartlett (Byron, Michigan), women’s basketball
  • Lena Charles (Plainfield, Indiana), women’s track and field
  • Isaiah Friesen (Filley, Nebraska), men’s cross country
  • Joelle Friesen (Normal, Illinois), women’s tennis
  • Luke Graber (Stryker, Ohio), men’s track and field
  • Kayla Gray (Bridgton, Maine), women’s cross country
  • Lexa Magnuson (Elkhart, Indiana), women’s volleyball
  • Jacob Roth (Archbold, Ohio), men’s tennis
  • Krista Sutliff (Agua Dulce, California), softball
  • Janeth Vela (Goshen, Indiana), women’s soccer
  • Michael Walker (Archbold, Ohio), baseball

Head baseball coach Alex Childers was named Coach of the Year, selected by his peers on the head coaching staff. The fifth-year head coach has led his team to increasing win totals year-over-year in each of his first five seasons, culminating in a 2017 team that has the third-most wins in school history (24) with at least four games left in the regular season.

The men’s tennis program was named academic team of the year for 2015-16 by virtue of posting the highest team GPA; team academic awards for 2016-17 cannot be determined until the close of the college’s academic year in June.