The Wesleys Provided One More Chance to Say Good-Bye to Iowa Wesleyan

Iowa Wesleyan- The 4th annual student-athlete awards ceremony The Wesleys commenced yesterday at the Chapel. Students, athletes, coaches, faculty, and community members all showed their support as Derek Zander, Vice President for Advancement and Athletics, and Ashley, Baldassarre, Assistant Athletic Director and head coach for the Tiger volleyball team, led the announcement of awards and Brevin Wilson emceed the event.

The first award of the night was Female and Male Honor Athlete of the Year. Brielle Baker of the women’s basketball team won the award as she averaged 7 points per game and was named a Scholar-Athlete by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Trace White of men’s golf took home the award as White grabbed CAC Golfer of the Week and made the All-Tournament team in the Simpson Meet for their fall schedule.

The Women’s Newcomer of the Year was given to Isabell West of the women’s basketball team as she helped the Tigers to a 23-7 record, West led the team with 18.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. West was also named to the Continental Athletic Conference (CAC) All-Tournament team, 1st Team All-Conference, CAC Player of the Year, CAC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, CAC Newcomer of the Year, and honorable mention All-American. The front court for the men’s basketball team was anchored by Gacoby Jones as he was proficient from beyond the arc and a kleptomaniac defensively. These attributes earned Jones the award. Jones averaged 11.7 points per game and shot 40.8% from three-point land. He was named an honorable mention All-Conference for the season he had.

The Lori Williams Wright award was created in 2012 and is given annually to a senior women’s basketball player that exhibits athletic ability, leadership skills, and academic excellence. This year the award went to Brianna Wendland. She earned 2nd Team All-Conference honors this season. Wendland averaged 11.4 points per game for the Tigers on the season. She shot 42.7% from the field on the season. Wendland also averaged 5.4 rebounds per game, 2.8 assists per game, and 1.2 steals per game and was a Scholar-Athlete.

The Women’s Academic Team award went to the Volleyball team with six Scholar-Athletes. The Men’s Academic Team award went to the Men’s Golf team.

The Wesley Award given to the student who best represents Iowa Wesleyan in the community was the emcee himself, Brevin Wilson. A Mount Pleasant native, Wilson was very emotional in what was the only speech given by a student at the ceremony. In a simple statement, Wilson stated that will forever wear purple and white.

The Best Dressed award was a secret one as judges brought forth a final list of four to be voted on by Twitter live at the event. The final four were Wilson, Nicole Shirrell, Morgan Pulido, and, in a big surprise Kurt Moon. Pulido and Moon shared the award after the 60-second voting timeframe.

Every team had their own MVP as voted upon by the coaching staff and here’s how it shook out. Men’s basketball was Henry Shannon. Women’s basketball was Isabell West. Logan Lucas was the pick for men’s cross country and Lilly Garnsey was the choice for women’s cross country. Major Niccum was football’s MVP. Alexis Hafenstine was picked for volleyball. For men’s soccer it was Alvaro Morera. Women’s soccer was Marta Cuenca Carcel. Trace White took it for men’s golf. Kurt Moon’s choice for women’s golf was Aubrey Duncan. Julian Figueroa’s team lead in batting average, home runs, and doubles earned him the MVP nod. Lexy Davis won the award for softball. Daron Jackson was the MVP for men’s track and field. Faith Younce, who also helped organize and gave out the awards on stage, was the MVP for women’s track and field. For men’s wrestling it was Lane Scorpil, who finished in 2nd place at the conference tournament to earn a trip to the national tournament. Lastly, Adaugo Nwachukwu was named team MVP for women’s wrestling.

The Men’s and Women’s Team of the Year and Coach of the Year was swept by basketball.

Jordan Ashton entered as a rookie head coach for Iowa Wesleyan and led his squad to a 27-3 overall record, which included an 11-0 record at Ruble Arena and a 20-game win streak, which are both school records. The Tigers took down two ranked opponents and were ranked as high as #23 in the NAIA rankings. They brought home the CAC championship and qualified for the national tournament. Ashton was also named CAC Coach of the Year and had three players earn conference honors with Henry Shannon being named an honorable mention for the All-NAIA team.

Steve Williamson won his second straight CAC Coach of the Year award and had four players earn conference awards. Williamson led the Tigers to a 23-7 overall record and their second straight CAC regular season championship and the #1 seed in the conference tournament. Williamson also became the winningest coach of all-time in Iowa Wesleyan women’s basketball history earlier this season (288 wins). Lastly, Williamson led the Tigers to a 20-win season for the first time in seven years. He also led the Tigers to a national tournament berth for the second year in a row. Both coaches stated that it was the players that truly deserved the award.

All that leaves is the Athlete of the Year for the men and women. Taking it home for the women was Nwachukwu. Adaugo finished her sophomore season with a 31-0 record where 29 of her matches ended by pin or tech fall. She won the Heart of America Conference title, named NAIA Outstanding Wrestler of the Year, and is now a two-time NAIA Champion after winning the crown this year in the 136-pound weight class. Nwachukwu is the first in program history to win multiple National Championships. She was also a finalist for USA Wrestling Women’s College Wrestler of the Year.

Henry Shannon showed his metal in his freshman season as he averaged a team leading 13.1 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game. A highlight from the season comes from their first-round contest against Haskell Indian Nations in the CAC Tournament. In a back-and-forth affair the game was tied with two seconds to play; Joey Brown IV threw a perfect pass to Shannon who rolled the ball in for the winning bucket at the buzzer. Shannon was also named 1st Team All-Conference and NAIA honorable mention.

Zander kept one surprise until the end when he announced one final member joining the Iowa Wesleyan Hall of Fame. Mike Hampton will be the last Tiger to join the Hall of Fame. Hampton entered his 30th season as head softball coach at Iowa Wesleyan University. With two games left, Hampton has accumulated a 666-678-1 mark at IW and owns a 1,319-1,258-1 career record in 57 seasons coaching softball at the college and high school levels. In August of 2006, he was inducted into the Iowa Girls Coaches Association Hall of Fame in honor of his high school softball coaching career. Hampton was a registered girl’s and boy’s high school basketball official for 40 years and worked a number of postseason tournament games up until he retired in 2019. He was selected into the Iowa Girls High School Coaches Association Basketball Officials Hall of Fame in 2005. In April 2007, he was also a member of the first induction class into the Southeast Iowa Officials Hall of Fame. An emotional Hampton had this to say after the ceremony,

“I’m humbled, I’m shocked, I didn’t anticipate this whatsoever. I just wanted to say thank you to the University for everything they’ve done for me to bring me along as a young pup and now to the old guy.”

It was a proper, if not emotional, good-bye to Iowa Wesleyan after a fun year of athletics for the Purple and White.