Senior football student-athlete Dakota Nelson (Fairland, Ind.) and senior softball student-athlete Laurren Ladwig (Crown Point, Ind.) earned top billing at Manchester University's M Association/Student-Athlete Advisory Committee end of the year awards celebration Tuesday, May 8.
Nelson was named the Male Athlete of the Year following a 2017 gridiron slate that saw him ranked among the NCAA Division III top ten for kickoff return touchdowns, combined kick return yardage, kickoff return yardage per attempt and all-purpose yardage per game. He was also first-team all-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and Special Teams Player of the Year and a three-time conference special teams Player of the Week along with being invited to several pro day workouts various professional football leagues.
Ladwig garnered female Athlete of the Year accolades. The Spartans' slugger concluded a record-setting 2018 with 19 home runs, which was a program and conference single-season record; 44 career big flies, also an MU all-time best; and 124 RBI, good for second on the program's career list. Ladwig senior year resume featured being named the conference's Offensive Player of the Week four times in route to offensive Most Valuable Player and first-team honors; recognized as Fastpitch News and National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III Offensive Player of the Week once; and winding up the season as the NCAA Division III leader in overall home runs and home runs per game.
Those two awards were part of an evening in which the best of Spartans' 2017-18 athletic achievements was on display at the university's ballrooms on the upper level of the Jo Young Switzer Center. Sixty-five four-year student-athletes received individual framed desktop photo honors for their accomplishments, and approximately 185 student-athletes were noted for overall grade-point averages of 3.0 or higher.
Director of Athletics Rick Espeset opened the evening by honoring the M Association Directors, Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year and Betty Clark and Warren Garner service awardees. Senior women's tennis player Katie Peden (North Manchester, Ind.) and senior men's basketball player Brody Kirby (Frankfort, Ind.) received the Directors' awards given each year to the male and female senior four-year student-athletes with the highest overall grade-point averages; senior women's soccer player Jenny Pudlo (Crown Point, Ind.) and senior wrestling athlete Chase Wilson (Peru, Ind.) picked up the Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year honors; and senior softball player Mallorie Jennings (Bourbon, Ind.) and senior football player Eric Beard (Findlay, Ohio) were recognized as the Betty Clark and Warren Garner award recipients.
The departments' SAAC group recognized women's swimmer Katie Blystone (Carmel, Ind.) and men's track and field athlete Travis Murr (Franklin, Ind.) as Outstanding Freshman Student-Athletes; women's cross country/track field runner Hannah Wappes (Columbia City, Ind.) and football/track and field athlete Austin Roberts (Indianapolis, Ind.) as Outstanding Sophomore Student-Athletes; women's track and field runner Dasia Beck (Indianapolis, Ind.) and men's basketball player Adrian Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) as Outstanding Junior Student-Athletes and Ladwig and Nelson as Outstanding Senior Student-Athletes. Each sport had their season top performers recognized which featured sophomore Nicole Weaver (Fort Wayne, Ind.) (women's basketball); Wappes (women's cross country/co-women's track and field); Pudlo (women's soccer); Ladwig (softball); Blystone/senior Emily Clark (Peru, Ind.) (co-women's swimming and diving); senior Erin Cordill (Zionsville, Ind.) (women's tennis); senior Jacey Cauhorn (Kendallville, Ind.) (co-women's track and field); and junior Haley Duncan (Albion, Ind.) (volleyball); senior Taylor Kopplin (Westport, Ind.) (baseball); Johnson (men's basketball); senior Blake Harris (Fort Wayne, Ind.) (men's cross country); Nelson (football); junior Connor Labedz (Aurora, Ill.) (men's golf); senior Brady Forman (Hastings, Mich.) (men's soccer); junior Anjel Clemente (Rensselaer, Ind.) (men's swimming and diving); senior Isaac Collis (Indianapolis, Ind.) (men's tennis); senior Harrison Hollis (Lebanon, Ind.) (men's track and field); and Wilson (wrestling).