SAMANTHA LUND; Editor-in-Chief:

Athletes, coaches and administration gathered to celebrate a great year of wins this Sunday in Olson Gym during the annual Athletics Dessert Banquet.

Pacific Lutheran University faculty pride themselves on having student-athletes who always put “student” before “athlete.” At the banquet, outstanding students and coaches were recognized for excellence in academics and athletics.

The first award of the night was the George Fischer Scholar Athlete Award for athletes who maintain the highest GPAs and membership in PLU’s honor societies. This year’s recipients were Michaela Edgers from Women’s Basketball and Volleyball and Todd Hoagland from Men’s Soccer. Edgers not only maintained a 3.89 GPA but is a two-sport athlete who volunteers at the Pierce County Humane Society and will graduate this year and attend the Washington State Veterinary Medicine Program. Hoagland, equally as impressive, maintains a 3.79 GPA and is attending grad school for criminal justice next year after graduation.

The Women’s Swim team took two big team awards on Sunday, the Team GPA and the Team of the Year Award, officially taking this school year by storm. The Women’s Swim team not only took first in the Northwest Conference, but they had multiple 4.0 students and broke several PLU records this year.

PLU Athletics also honored two all-around Athletes of the Year, Shanell Sullenberger and Brandon Lester.

Sullenberger helped the PLU Women’s Swim team continue their domination of the Northwest Conference with its third straight conference title.  Sullenberger finished the season with first-team all-conference performances in six of her races, and second-team in the seventh.  She set program records in three events and finished the NWC Championships meet with six event titles.

Lester helped lead the Men’s Basketball team’s return to the postseason for the first time in six years, advancing to the Northwest Conference Tournament finals for only the second time in program history.  The junior guard became the first Lute to score 400 points in a season since 2008 and finished the season ranked second in the conference in scoring (17.4 points per game).  He became the twenty-fifth PLU player to reach 1,000 career points and currently sits at 1,066, number 22 on the PLU all-time scorers list.

The last awards of the evening went to Melissa Dean and Drew Oord for the Lute Career Achievement Award.

In her four years as a Lute swimmer, Dean has been the model for the women’s swimming programs definition of holistic excellence.   She is an eight- time conference champion and holds five school records.  She earned 20 all-conference honors and is a member of SAAC, serving as vice president and president as well as representing PLU as the NWC SAAC vice president for 2015-16.  She is also a member of Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting honor society.

A dual sport student-athlete, Oord is known for making big plays on the football field and baseball diamond.  A four-year letter winner in baseball, Oord has a career .334 batting average with a .419 slugging percentage.  In 153 games, he posted 180 hits – sixth all-time in PLU history- including 33 doubles, two triples and four home runs and has crossed the plate 94 times.  A three-year letter winner in football, Oord has recorded 31 tackles in 15 games.  Off the field, he has been involved in the Lister Elementary mentoring program and Special Olympics volunteering.

In her closing words, Director of Athletics and Recreation Laurie Turner said Athletics will continue to look toward excellence, striving to get better each year, bring in more athletes and break academic records as well as athletic ones.

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Samantha Lund was the Editor in Chief at The Mast, a student-run newsroom within Pacific Lutheran University, in 2015-16. Lund created Mast Magazine in 2015 to give students a forum for long form news pieces. She could be found writing for Pacific Lutheran University's Marketing and Communication site or interning at MOViN 92.9's morning talk show in Seattle. Other places to find her content include: Alaska Airlines blog and website, The News Tribune and The Bremerton Harald.