EMU Athletics: Leah Wenger, Bailey Hall win President’s Awards
Eastern Mennonite University held its annual Athletic Honors Banquet on May 1. Different from previous years where the event is celebrated with an in-person banquet, Virginia’s stay-at-home order led to an online version dubbed the Athletic Honors Show.
As part of the show, the EMU Athletic Department handed out athletic and academic awards from the 2019-20 season.
As the culmination of the evening, Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman presented the awards, based on academic achievement, athletic contribution, Christian commitment, leadership, campus involvement and service.
All 42 of the senior student-athletes were honored during the show as well. While the graduating seniors normally receive EMU Alumni jackets in-person at a banquet, this year the jackets were mailed to each senior’s home.
Director of Athletics Communications James DeBoer hosted the show, with an opening word from Director of Athletics Dave King.
A four-year starter at goalie for the women’s soccer team, Wenger is the daughter of Delbert and Andrea Wenger. She held a 3.97 GPA with a double major of psychology and vocal performance. This year, Wenger was voted as the ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete for women’s soccer. She had 58 starts in 67 career games, and led the ODAC with 10 shutouts as a senior.
Wenger was extremely involved in other activities around campus and the community. She was a student representative for three EMU committees and also served three years on the Student Government Association, including the last year as the co-president. She also sang with the Chambers Singers, University Choir and Emulate.
In reflecting on her collegiate experience, Wenger said, “Women’s soccer at EMU taught me patience, perseverance, and commitment. In my last few years, I took great joy in mentoring younger players, especially ones that did not necessarily ‘fit in’ to the larger team culture. This ability to mentor others through challenges and into success is something that will guide my career choices for the rest of my life.”
Hall, the male recipient of the President’s Award, was a starting pitcher for the baseball team and the son of Jeremy and Aimee Hall. He held a 3.55 GPA as a recreational leadership and sports studies major. Hall was a weekend starter most of his career, drawing 35 starts in 40 appearances en route to a 5-18 record over his four years.
On campus, Hall was on the leadership team for Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and was a Community Advisor for EMU’s Residence Life his final three years. When school was not in session, he worked at numerous kids camps while playing in summer leagues in New York and Virginia.
“Athletics has helped me in my academic experience as it has taught me self-discipline in managing schoolwork with baseball,” Hall said of his time as a Royal student-athlete. “It has helped me develop into a better leader by forcing me to become more vocal with the team and within group projects. Lastly, it has taught me how to communicate effectively with people both on the field and in the classroom, and I expect to continue to grow in my communication skills through coaching next year.”
The Athletic Department staff also voted for Athlete of the Year winners. Senior Abigail Shelly (Collinsville, Miss./West Lauderdale) claimed the women’s honor while sophomore Isaac Alderfer (Broadway, Va./Broadway) was named the top male.
Shelly was the cross country team’s top runner and won an ODAC Runner of the Week award, but she really stood out for EMU’s new women’s triathlon program. She took on the new sport with intense training before her final collegiate year and was the team’s top finisher in each of her races. Shelly was eighth at the regional meet to earn a trip to nationals in Arizona, where she finished 13th among all D-III competitors. She was named CTCA Scholar All-American.
Alderfer was likewise the top runner for the men’s cross country team. He won the inaugural EMU Mennonite Heritage Invitational was named the ODAC Runner of the Week. By indoor track & field season, Alderfer was routinely finishing in the top three of his races. He broke a 13-year-old program record in the indoor 800m with a time of 1:54.97, which earned him All-South/Southeast Region honors. Alderfer also was named All-ODAC Second Team and VaSID All-State Second Team in the 800m and with the distance medley relay team.
Morgan Tricarico (Culpeper Va./Eastern View) of field hockey and lacrosse was named the Female Freshman of the Year while Jansen Miller (Lancaster, Pa./Lampeter-Strasburg) earned the Male Freshman of the Year award for his running with the cross country and track & field teams.
Tricarico was a constant offensive threat for the field hockey team with four goals and four assists. For the Royals’ brand new women’s lacrosse team, Tricarico became a leader. She notched team highs with seven goals, two assists and 16 shots, and also scored the first goal in program history.
Miller was a young standout runner, especially in the middle distances for track & field. He was a key piece of the distance medley relay team that earned the No. 4 time in EMU history at 10:37.32. Miller earned All-ODAC Second team and VaSID All-State Second Team with the DMR.
As part of the online show, four seniors gave short reflections on their time playing sports at Eastern Mennonite: Ariel Barbosa (Baltimore, Md./Towson) from women’s soccer, Justin Odom (Williamsburg, Va./Menchville) from men’s track & field, Mathew Zimmerman (Partlow, Va./Spotsylvania) from men’s soccer, and Madeline Mast (Lancaster, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) from field hockey.
Dr. Matthew Siderhurst, Faculty Athletic Representative, presented the Academic Achievement Awards to each team’s individual junior or senior with the highest GPA. Those awards went to: Bailey Hall (Daleville, Va./James River) and Blake Schaar (Orange, Va./The Covenant School) in baseball, Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central) in men’s basketball, Chrissy Delawder (Broadway, Va./Broadway) in women’s basketball, Collin Longenecker (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby) in men’s cross country and track & field, Elizabeth Nisly (Bluffton, Ohio/Bluffton) in women’s cross country, Lauren Hartzler (Manheim, Pa./Manheim Central) in field hockey, Olyvia Longacre (Telford, Pa./Dock Mennonite Academy) in women’s golf, Mathew Zimmerman (Partlow, Va./Spotsylvania) in men’s soccer, Megan Breidigan (Douglassville, Pa./Daniel Boone) in women’s soccer, Cassidey Chrisman (Staunton, Va./Riverheads) in softball, Savannah Bontrager (Milford, Neb./Milford) in women’s track field, Abigail Shelly (Collinsville, Miss./West Lauderdale) in women’s triathlon, Joshua Gomez (Puerto Montt, Chile/German School Puerto Montt) in men’s volleyball, and Kara Durren (Gloucester, Va./Gloucester) in women’s volleyball.