The Goshen College Athletic Department hosted the 2023 LEAFYs Awards on Sunday evening in the Umble Center as a way to celebrate the accomplishments of the Maple Leafs student-athletes and teams over the 2022-23 school year. Nominees were chosen and then voted on by athletic department head coaches and administrative staff. Attendees dressed up for the formal event, which was followed with a reception.
The award winners from the evening were:
Ruth Gunden Award for Excellence
Presented to a female senior student-athlete who has had an outstanding athletic career, while exemplifying leadership, excelling in academics, and contributing to the GC community.
John Ingold Award for Excellence
Presented to a male senior student-athlete who has had an outstanding athletic career while exemplifying leadership, excelling in academics, and contributing to the GC community.
Maple Leaf Character Award
Presented to a student-athlete who exemplifies great support of Maple Leaf athletics.
Female Athlete of the Year
Presented to a female student-athlete who had an exceptional athletic season.
Mercy Chebet – Chebet was an All-American in the outdoor 5,000 meters in just her third race that season in the event. She was a part of the women’s indoor distance medley relay team that placed tenth at nationals, the 4×800 team that came in 18th, and the outdoor 4×800 team that finished ninth – one spot away from being All-Americans.
Male Athlete of the Year
Presented to a male student-athlete who had an exceptional athletic season.
Nelson Kemboi – Kemboi was an All-American three times this year – for cross country, the 3,000 meters during the indoor season, and the 10,000 meters during the outdoor season. He was a part of the cross country school record for the fastest time among the top five runners and set the 3,000 meter indoor record in the winter. In the spring he set the outdoor 5,000 meter record and was twice the league outdoor track & field track athlete of the week. Kemboi was First-Team All-Conference in cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field and was voted by the league coaches as the men’s track athlete of the meet at the outdoor Crossroads League Championships.
Female Rookie of the Year
Presented to an athletic standing first-year female student-athlete with the most outstanding athletic contribution this year.
Mady Axsom – Axsom set the indoor high jump school record at the Crossroads League meet and placed second in the conference. She qualified and competed at nationals for both the indoor and outdoor seasons – placing 12th in indoors and tied for 12th at outdoors. She was the women’s outdoor track & field field athlete of the week for the Crossroads League for April 10-16.
Male Rookie of the Year
Presented to an athletic standing first-year male student-athlete with the most outstanding athletic contribution this year.
Ishmail Bangura – Bangura played an especially critical role during the time before Hasan Hadzic was competing, and was the WHAC Attacker of the Week for January 30 – February 6. Bangura averaged 3.47 kills per set and had a .246 hitting percentage. He was tied for third in the conference with 0.35 aces per set. He was one of six league players to make the All-Freshman team and was named First Team All-Conference.
Coach of the Year Award
Presented to a coach that guided his or her team or teams to an exceptional athletic season.
(TIE) Rustin Nyce and Luke Wagner – Nyce guided the men’s cross country team to a 22nd place finish at the NAIA national championships as the team had an All-American and broke the team time program record for the top five finishers. Both the women’s and men’s cross country teams are currently receiving votes in the NAIA coaches polls. Many cross country runners went on to set school records and qualify for nationals during the indoor and outdoor track seasons.
In Wagner’s first season with the Maple Leafs, he led the squad to 16 conference wins (setting a new single-season mark) while amassing 24 overall wins (tying the program’s single-season mark). Three Maple Leafs earned All-Conference selections (two First Team, one Second Team), with junior McKenzie Richardson securing a nod on the NFCA All-Region Team (Second Team).
Highest Women’s Team GPA
Women’s Cross Country (3.516 cumulative GPA for the 2022-23 school year)
Highest Men’s Team GPA
Men’s Tennis (3.618 cumulative GPA for the 2022-23 school year)
Team Service Award
Presented to the team that has continually served for the greater good of the community.
Women’s Basketball – The team served the community with service work at the Boys and Girls Club and community efforts by providing moving services and entertainment at Greencroft.
Victory of the Year
A notable win, record, or upset by an individual or team.
Men’s tennis upsetting #3 Indiana Wesleyan at home – The Leafs won 4-3 after losing the past eight contests against IWU, scoring one combined point in the previous four matchups. Goshen last beat the Wildcats on September 6, 2016. Mario Gomez, Insee Akarapan, and Filippo Gallo won in singles and GC took the doubles point as well.
Moment of the Year
A notable play or moment by an individual or team.
Baseball’s walkoff winner upset on Senior Day against the #21 Taylor Trojans – Preston Anderson hit a walkoff single to score senior Nate Lange as the Maple Leafs topped #21 Taylor 9-8 on Senior Day. Taylor had just secured the outright regular-season Crossroads League championship two days before. The Trojans fell to 30-6 in conference play with the loss and went on to play four games in the NAIA World Series after going 3-0 in the national championship opening round.
Fan of the Year
Presented to a fan who inspires others through their love of Maple Leafs athletics and shows what it means to be a fan.
Jane Metzler – Jane can be found rooting on the Maple Leafs at nearly all of the home sporting events and even some of the road ones. She truly bleeds purple and white!