For the fourth consecutive year, Record staff members from both fall and spring semesters voted on six categories to recognize Maple Leafs for their exceptional athletic accomplishments. Congratulations to all those awarded and nominated!

Athlete of the Year: Mercy Chebet

Chebet, a junior, put up All-American performances in both cross country and indoor track (women’s 5000 meter run). She also qualified for nationals in the 3000 meter run and 4×800 relay. She was named Everence Student-Athlete of the week a whopping five times, the most of any athlete. Along with her athletic accolades, Chebet, a nursing major, was named a Daktronics NAIA Scholar-Athlete for her academic excellence.

Receiving votes: Mathew Keitany (cross country and track and field), Hasan Hadzic (men’s volleyball), Blanka Bodo (women’s tennis), Joseph Cerda (baseball), Syanne Mohammed (women’s basketball).

Team of the Year: Women’s cross country

Women’s cross country was voted this year’s team of the year after securing their first-ever NAIA National Appearance. The team, ranked twentieth going into the race, jumped ahead to number fifteen in the final rankings, led by Chebet, who placed 34th, followed by Annika Alderfer Fisher, Naomi Ross Richer, Abigael Murgor, Mia Wellington, Stephany Claudio, and Summer Cooper.

 Receiving votes: Men’s cross country, softball.

Coach of the Year: Brad Stoltzfus

Brad Stoltzfus, first-year head coach of the baseball team, took the reins of a program that was mired in some negativity, having finished 10-38, 11-39 and 3-34 in its previous three seasons. Stoltzfus, in an early-season interview, mentioned “having fun playing the game” and “getting back to a family environment” as goals in his first season. He is heavily involved in on-campus activities, recently including helping to lead Prevention and Intervention Network’s “Healthy/Unhealthy Relationship Workshop.”

Andres Garcia, a breakout senior starter, spoke to Stoltzfus’ impact, saying:

“Coach Brad has kind of come in and really helped us out a lot,” he said. “The energy has changed; I want to play for my teammates here. I think the bond that everyone here has this year is just like a lot stronger than it was last year.”

Receiving votes: Rustin Nyce (cross country and track and field).

Mental Attitude Award: Nelson Kemboi

Nelson Kemboi, last year’s Athlete of the Year recipient, showed extreme mental toughness this indoor track season when he ran the 3000 meter run at NAIA indoor nationals on a stress fracture, placing 24th with a time of 8:50.52.

“The pain was intense,” he said “but what motivated me to keep going was my determination to represent my team and myself to the best of my ability.  I knew that every step, despite the pain, was a step closer to the finish line and achieving my goal. It was a test of mental toughness and resilience, and I’m grateful for the experience and the lessons it taught me about pushing beyond limits.”

Receiving votes: Gwyn Bellamy (women’s volleyball), Isaac Miller (men’s basketball), Alisyn Catenacci (softball), Vicky Naylor (women’s soccer).

Most Improved Team: Baseball

The baseball team, under Stoltzfus’ direction, has been named this year’s most improved team. The team sits at 12-24, with a 7-17 conference record; both of these win totals are already more than they’ve been in any of the past three seasons, with 13 more games to play. The team’s season highlight so far was a four-game winning streak, which included three straight wins in Highway 20 Cup Competition against Bethel University, followed by a 6-5 victory against the then-24th ranked Concordia University. The stretch marked the team’s first in-conference series win since 2020, as well as its longest winning streak since 2017.

Receiving votes: Women’s cross country, men’s volleyball, softball, women’s volleyball, men’s tennis, women’s tennis.

Best Individual Performance: Annika Alderfer Fisher (chosen from Everence Student-Athlete of the Week recipients)

Alderfer Fisher was named Everence Student-Athlete for the week of Oct. 2 – Oct. 9 after she placed third out of 157 runners at the Bethel Invitational with a time of 18:55.4 in the 5k, leading Goshen to a third place finish at the Invitational.

Receiving votes: Jenner Rodammer (baseball), Blanka Bodo (women’s tennis), Mathew Keitany (cross country and track and field), Karson Jenkins (men’s basketball).