Special athletic department honors feted at M Club night

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The senior student-athlete duo of women’s soccer and track and field competitor Bridgette Rowe (La Quinta, Calif.) and baseball player Jordan Nieman (Michigan City, Ind.) highlighted the 2014-15 Manchester University M Club Awards evening Tuesday, May 5, by being named the athletic department’s Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

Rowe, still looking to add to her track and field success outdoor-wise, has already produced an impressive resume this year. She was the conference’s indoor and outdoor track and field Field Athlete of the Year due to claiming a combined five indoor and outdoor conference titles; earned her second NCAA Division III indoor All-American honor in the high jump; was the Indiana Division III Championships’ Field Most Valuable Athlete; holds school records in the indoor long jump and 60 meter dash and outdoor high jump; currently is seventh nationally outdoors in the high jump; and was the top scorer on the Spartans’ women’s soccer squad in route to second team all-HCAC and honorable mention all-Great Lakes Region honors.

Nieman’s numbers have been just as glowing on the baseball diamond. He helped lead the program to an amazing 17th appearance in the last 19 years in the conference’s postseason tournament final four; tops the HCAC in batting average, hitting .414,13th best among the program’s top single-season efforts to go with 11 home runs to lead the conference and rank in a tie for sixth in the program’s history; has moved into second on the all-time home run board at MU (34); is in the top 20 program-wise for hits this year (63); and ranks fourth all-time in RBIs (164) including this year’s total of 42 which is third-highest in the conference.

MU Director of Athletics Rick Espeset and the department also announced the following awards Tuesday … Senior women’s soccer student-athlete Trinity Schelich (Indianapolis, Ind.) and senior men’s tennis student-athlete Kyle Lahman (North Manchester, Ind.) were honored with the Director’s Awards, lauding the senior male and female student-athlete who have earned the highest cumulative grade-point average while participating in their sport for their entire career at MU and earning at least one varsity letter … Junior women’s basketball student-athlete Kelcey Daugherty (Greenwood, Ind.) and Lahman were tabbed the institution’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee’s Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year … Senior men’s cross country and track and field student-athlete Corey Birchmeier (Dexter, Ill.) was named the Warren K. Garner Kiwanis Scholar-Athlete award winner, presented to the senior male athlete who demonstrates the ideals as personified in one of the objects of Kiwanis International “to develop by precept and example, a more intelligent, aggressive and serviceable citizenship”, for embodying all three areas having competed on three men’s cross country HCAC championship teams which included holding down the 16th-fastest 8K time in program history; volunteering for such events as the North Manchester Relay for Life, at Claypool Elementary school in the after school program and being a youth chaperone for a church function in his home town; and also being a member of the MU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee … Senior women’s soccer and softball student-athlete Emily Willmann (Montpelier, Ind.) was selected as the Betty Clark Memorial Award honoree for demonstrating the ideals of Manchester University athletics as personified in the late Betty Clark, a former physical education instructor and women’s basketball and softball coach, which deal with scholarship athletic achievement, leadership, service and courage of conviction. Willmann, as noted at the awards night, is a true testament to all areas, starring on the softball field and soccer pitch leading both programs to new heights including the 2013 HCAC softball title and a combined six postseason conference tournament appearances; earning a combined seven-time all-conference awards and five academic all-conference honors; working with the MU biology department in lab preparation and at the university’s Student Days; and holding captain roles five times in two sports … The department also recognized the top 50 student-athlete grade-point averages and announced the men’s and women’s track and field programs as the winner of the 2014-15 SAAC Champs Cup which goes yearly to the program who earns the most points via their athletic and academic performance as well as their service in North Manchester and within the campus community.