PALATINE HILL -- For the third straight year, Lewis & Clark student-athletes were honored at the Excellence of Lewis & Clark's Year of Sports (ELCYS) awards last Tuesday at the Pamplin Sports Center. Pioneers seniors Miyah Leith, Gordon Barrows and Brenden Barrows took home the top individual awards.
Men's tennis was selected the Team of the Year for a second consecutive year.
Leith led the women's basketball team in scoring on her way to an All-Northwest Conference First-Team selection. The only competitor to score 33 or more points twice in a single season, Leith finished her career seventh all-time in scoring at Lewis & Clark.
"All my former teammates and coaches," said Leith on who she wanted to thank in the ELCYS post-award show, hosted by Lewis & Clark football assistant coach Joe Kopp. "A special thanks to my family. They're my biggest support system. Always being there for me, ups and downs, bad games, good games and everyone I've ever played with."
Women's basketball has won the last two Lois Smithwick Female Student-Athlete of the Year awards after Ayisat Afolabi won in 2017. Smithwick is a former president and helped to establish the Women's Conference of Independent Colleges, the creation of which was the first major step in establishing intercollegiate competition for women at Lewis & Clark.
The Barrowses were honored together as the Joe Huston Male Athletes of the Year after moving to 23rd nationally in the Oracle/ITA Division III Men's Collegiate Tennis Rankings. The duo helped the Pioneers to a second-straight NWC Championship final appearance, the only men's tennis teams to do so.
"My brother and I have been playing tennis for 10-12 years now, and the last four years, we've had an opportunity to continue that," said Brenden. "We've had a great four years with our teammates, and want to thank our program for providing a venue for my brother and me to continue playing."
"When we came in, we weren't the highest-ranked juniors, but we worked hard over the summer," said Gordon. "We had the luxury of practicing together and kept working hard and improving. This award shows that it paid off."
Huston served Lewis & Clark from 1947-72 in many capacities, including associate professor of health and physical education, head football coach, dean of men and athletic director.
Two namesakes of the scholar-athlete awards, Judy McMullen and Dell Smith, joined the event to present the 2018 winners. Tori Eichten, a three-season student-athlete for women's golf and basketball, was named the Judy McMullen Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, while Nico Bricker of men's basketball was named the Dell Smith Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
"I'm interested in going to medical school. Thinking orthopedics but it could change," said Eichten, a junior and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major. "It's definitely tough. Anybody who can maintain a high GPA regardless of major, it's really impressive."
Eichten was the first women's basketball student-athlete in school history to be named CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team this past season.
"The biggest thing is time management," said Bricker, a sophomore. "That's a major difference from high school, especially as a student-athlete. You have so many places to be and being on top of your athletics and classes, so you have to manage all of it."
Bricker finished the season as the team's second-leading scorer and entered his sophomore year considering a career in the dental or engineering field.
Natalie Kelly and Andrew Werst were named the Mary Hunter and Dan Jones Multi-Sport Athlete of the Year, respectively. In tennis, Kelly, a senior, qualified for the ITA Northwest Regional Championships doubles semifinals while shooting her best percentage from the field since her freshman season in basketball.
"Senior night, when we beat Puget Sound," said Kelly about the biggest moment of the year. "Great crowd and a great way to end our senior season on our home floor. For tennis, the ITA tournament every year in the fall. Getting to play with Glenna [Gee-Taylor] and having fun in Walla Walla."
Werst was the first All-NWC First-Team selection for football since 2013 before qualifying for the NWC Championships in three events during his first season for track and field.
"We go to Lewis & Clark, a rigorous school, so make sure it doesn't affect your grades at all," said Werst on how to manage competing in multiple sports. "That's the most important part."
For the third straight year, a softball student-athlete won the Female Rookie of the Year after Sydney Cross was selected. Cross played in all 32 games at third base for the Pios and had the second most RBI for the team. Cameron Chang was named NWC Freshman of the Year for football and finished in the top 11 for the conference in sacks on his way to Male Rookie of the Year honors.
Lewis & Clark head strength and conditioning coach Ange Dendas was named Coach of the Year. Dendas has been the Pioneers full-time strength and conditioning coach since 2013 and works with all 19 intercollegiate athletics programs throughout the academic year. Remington Campbell, Sean Shepherd, Lauren Wood and Leith were named National Strength and Conditioning Association All-Americans.
Shepherd earned the ChamPIOns Peer Award, which is nominated and voted for exclusively by student-athletes. Shepherd finished the year with an All-NWC Second-Team selection for baseball after a career-high seven home runs this season. One of the nominators of Shepherd said, "Sean has been a role model for the past four years in this program and really embodies everything we believe in."
The baseball team was named the ChamPIOns Team of the Year in the first season under head coach Matt Kosderka.
2017-18 ELCYS Award Winners
ChamPIOns Peer Award: Sean Shepherd (Baseball)
Strength & Condition All-Americans: Remington Campbell (Football), Sean Shepherd (Baseball), Lauren Wood and Miyah Leith (Women's Basketball)
Female Rookie of the Year: Sydney Cross (Softball)
Male Rookie of the Year: Cameron Chang (Football)
Dan Jones Male Multi-Sport Athlete of the Year: Andrew Werst (Football; Track & Field)
Mary Hunter Female Multi-Sport Athlete of the Year: Natalie Kelly (Women's Tennis; Basketball)
Coach of the Year: Ange Dendas (Strength & Conditioning)
Judy McMullen Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Tori Eichten (Women's Golf; Basketball)
Dell Smith Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Nico Bricker (Men's Basketball)
Team of the Year: Men's Tennis
ChamPIOns Team Award: Baseball
Joe Huston Male Athlete of the Year: Gordon Barrows, Brenden Barrows (Men's Tennis)
Lois Smithwick Female Athlete of the Year: Miyah Leith (Women's Basketball)