This past Friday, May 17, the Lawrence University athletes were honored once again at the fourth annual BLU Crew Awards. The event was hosted by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) in the Warch Campus Center and was attended by athletes from several of the teams on campus. A night like this is rare for our Vikings in the sense that they get to trade out their cleats, spikes and tennis shoes for something a little nicer. The BLU Crew Awards is an event meant to celebrate accomplishments and breakthroughs over the entirety of the current academic year for teams and individuals alike.
In total, there were 12 categories for awards for the Vikings. The first two awards given were for the Breakthrough Athletes of the Year. This award could be given to an athlete of any year. On the men’s side of the award, sophomore Ethan Simmons was recognized for his outstanding performance in football. With it being his second year, starting off as just a backup his first year, he earned several awards within the Vikings football team, including offensive MVP, team MVP and special teams MVP in the fall season of this year. On the women’s side of the award, senior Molly Doruska was honored for her stupendous season in track and field. Throughout the season, Doruska set many new personal records and even managed to finish her season strong in the Midwest Conference Championships to finish out her Viking career.
The second category was the Best Lawrence Win. This award was aimed towards a team that had a significant win throughout the year, whether it was in a rivalry or a first time for something to happen. The award was given to the Viking’s men’s ice hockey team for the win against St. Scholastica College in Duluth, Minnesota. This win was their first ever in Duluth, with the Vikings coming out on top with a large win of 8-2 over St. Scholastica. Throughout the season, the hockey team had a difficult time finding the back of the net, but in this game the Vikings persevered with goals from full strength, power plays and even a shorthanded goal.
The third category, similar to the last in the sense of it being a team-orientated award, was the Biggest Upset. The award was given to the Viking’s softball team for their win of their opener against Lake Forest College. The Vikings won 11-1 in a mere five innings. The game was the team’s last game of the season against Lake Forest, who would eventually come to be the Midwest Conference champions. The team had 11 hits throughout the opening game while Lake Forest only had five. One of the Vikings’ hits included a home run from sophomore Ceara Larson.
The fourth category was the Most Outstanding Play. Simmons, a dual athlete for football and track and field, was awarded for his race at the Indoor Midwest Conference Championship in the distance medley relay. His team finished in third place, allowing them to finish the season with All-Conference honors. The race was very eventful for Simmons due to the fact that he had to jump over another runner who had fallen during the race in order to place the team in third.
The fifth category was Best Individual Performance. Senior Josh Janusiak was given the award for his performance in the NCAA Division III Championships. Janusiak had started the race off well when he was tripped and unfortunately was unable to recover very quickly but managed to pass over a hundred other runners in the last half of the race in order to finish 32nd in the race overall. This finish earned him All-American honors as well. Janusiak also was honored as the Male Athlete of the Year, the tenth category. Janusiak had a phenomenal year in both cross country and track, winning a total of six titles throughout the year, three of those being from the Midwest Conference Championships in each season of cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.
The sixth category was Female Rookie of the Year. The award was given to freshman Maddy Smith who was a member of Lawrence’s diving team. She broke the four diving records that had previously been set at Lawrence and competed in the NCAA Diving Regional, a first for Lawrence. On top of all this, she placed second and fourth at the Midwest Conference Championship.
The seventh category was the Male Rookie of the Year. The award was given to sophomore Brad Sendell for his performance during the basketball season. He was chosen for the All-Midwest Conference team and had a powerful position on the court with a good set of stats from the season to go with it.
The eighth category was Coach of the Year. This award was given to Drew Fleek. Fleek coached the Viking’s swimming and diving team. He coached the women’s team to a second-place finish in the Midwest Conference Championship and the men’s to a fifth place finish. Fleek was also selected as the Midwest Conference Coach of the Year for all of the support and hardworking determination he put behind the Vikings this season.
The ninth category was Female Athlete of the Year. This award was given to two of our Viking athletes: sophomore Erin Lengel and Larson. Lengel is a member of the swimming team and won three titles at the Midwest Conference Championship, the 100-yard freestyle, the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke, which helped drive the Vikings to the second-place finish. In each of these events, Lengel broke school records. Lengel also broke the conference record in the 100-yard freestyle and earned the title of the Midwest Conference Swimmer of the Year. Larson, a member of the softball team earned 11 home runs throughout the season as well as batted 34 runs in the 34 games that she played in. Larson was also named the Midwest Conference Player of the Year and was honored with a first-team selection in the All-Great Lakes Region.
The 11th category was the Defensive Award. This award was given to junior Amanda Karnatz for her performance from this year’s softball season. Throughout the year, Karnatz had 54 putouts for the season, which is a feat on its own and thoroughly worked to prevent teams from scoring or grabbing another base when the opportunity arose.
The last category of the night was the Viking Award. This is an athlete that exudes a well-rounded character on and off the court and in the classroom. On the men’s side of the award was junior Cade Francour, a member of the tennis team. Francour helped the Vikings win the Midwest Conference Tournament for three seasons in a row and was also honored as the Team MVP. Senior Leah Reeves was given the female side of the award. Reeves was a member of the basketball team and finished 26th in scoring and 18th in rebounding. She was also an Academic All-Midwest conference selection. Both of these athletes are members of SAAC.
As most nights of award ceremonies go, this was a night that will not be forgotten by all of the Vikings that attended. The night was well-spent remembering the achievements of fellow Vikings, as well as taking a break from Lawrence’s extensive schedule that plagues many, whether it be from meetings, homework, recitals or even practices. Congratulations to all the athletes nominated and awarded on this night.