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Awards convocations, Threshpys recognize achievement in academics, athletics

May 15th, 2019

The five Thresher Award winners for 2019

Between May 3 and May 18, several campus events celebrated excellent performances during the year, in many disciplines.

Over the past several years, the last two Bethel College convocations of the school year have recognized students’ academic and athletic achievements.

In addition, the athletic banquet, now called the Threshpy Awards, is a time to recap and enjoy great individual and team performances from the past year.

The first convo, on May 3, opened with presentation of five Thresher Awards, given to graduating seniors for “outstanding and sustained contribution” to an academic department or discipline.

William Eash, Ph.D., professor of music, gave a Thresher Award to Neil Smucker, North Newton, who is a double major in music and math.

Siobhán Scarry, Ph.D., associate professor of English, gave a Thresher Award to Elizabeth Ratzlaff, Moundridge, an English major.

Kip Wedel, Ph.D., associate professor of history and peace studies, gave a Thresher Award to Alec Loganbill, a history major from Hesston.

Allison McFarland, Ph.D., professor of business administration, and David Long, professor of art, were joint presenters of a Thresher Award to Austin Prouty, Newton, who is completing a double major in business administration and graphic design.

Dwight Krehbiel, Ph.D., professor of psychology, gave a Thresher Award to Cassandra Voth, a psychology major from Littleton, Colo.

The five students will graduate from Bethel May 19.

Allen Jantz, Ed.D., professor of education, identified the 2018-19 “Teachers of Promise”: in secondary education, Zane McHugh, Wichita (art), and Elizabeth Ratzlaff, Moundridge (English), and in elementary education, Nick Preheim, Peabody, and Bailey Strausz, Moundridge.

Tony Hoops, athletic director, read the list of NAIA and Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Scholar-Athletes, as well as athletic awards for the 2018-19 season (see sidebar).

The May 3 convocation also included a number of “special recognition” awards:

Dorothy Wedel Kaufman Honor Scholarship in English to junior Justice Flint and senior Madison Hofer-Holdeman, both from Wichita;

Writing Fellowship from the Center for Academic Development to Bethany Powls, freshman from Garnett;

Gerald Schrag Award in mathematics to Abby Harders, senior from Moundridge;

Community Assistant of the Year to Kaycee McClelland, senior from Newton, with the Students’ Choice Award going to Leisle Hoffman, graduating senior from Wichita;

John O. and Esther Schrag Helping Hand Award to Ben Jones, campus events coordinator, nominated by Shavane Morrison, graduating senior from Trenton, N.J.

The May 10 convocation began with Wedel announcing the URICA Summer Fellowship winners for 2019. URICA stands for Undergraduate Research, Internships and Creative Activity.

URICA Fellows are Sarah Balzer and Akiyaa Hagen-Depusoir in social work, Madison Hofer-Holdeman in English, Caroline Preheim in psychology, Kaci Wilson in chemistry and Kaho Yanagidaira in business (see sidebar).

Allison McFarland gave the J. Lloyd Spaulding Award for Economics and Business to Calen Rupp, graduating senior from Holcomb. McFarland noted that “competition was very stiff this year” for the award, which is based on academic performance, with four other students within a half-percentage point of Rupp.

Doug Maury, associate professor of athletic training, announced Kansas Athletic Trainers Society (KATS) honors for 2019: 1st Team – senior Ryan LaCombe, Newton; 2nd Team – senior Lil Padro, Miami, and graduating seniors Abby Pineda, Malone, Texas, and Caitlin Williams, Wellington; and Honorable Mention – graduating senior Lara Scott, Newton.

Peter Goerzen, campus pastor, presented the Seth Dunn Memorial Award, which Dunn’s family established following his death in an accident Aug. 1, 2011, right before his senior year at Bethel.

This award goes to a student “who identifies areas of needed change on campus, challenges others and takes action that makes a difference in accordance with the stated ideals and values of the Bethel community.”

Goerzen presented the award to Akiyaa Hagen-Depusoir, senior from Salina.

Sheryl Wilson, executive director of the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR), recognized the winners of Bethel’s 2019 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest: for the second straight year, Sarah Balzer, senior from Inman, first place (for “A Voting Guide for Peacemakers Under Capitalism”). Randall Schmidt, graduating senior from Lawrence, placed second with “Medical Peacemaking: Sowing the Seeds of Peace.”

Special awards included:

Ambassador of the Year in Admissions, to Alayna Wallace, sophomore from McPherson, and Briley Young, sophomore from Wichita;

Ray and Betty Funk Prize for Entrepreneurship to Robert Graham, sophomore from Maize;

Waldo H. Friesen and Linda Zielke Friesen Global Ministries Endowment awards to Emma Beachy, sophomore from Kalona, Iowa, Akiyaa Hagen-Depusoir, senior from Salina, Jennifer Harrison, junior from Ft. Scott, Anna Lubbers, junior from Peabody, Linda Moyo, freshman from Hesston, Caroline Preheim, junior from Nolensville, Tenn., Jenna Ratzlaff, junior from North Newton, Luke Unruh, junior from Goessel, and Joseph Winfield, junior from Edmond, Okla.

Tony Hoops, Bethel athletic director, read the names of senior athletes – those receiving four-year letter awards and B Letter Awards, all of which were given that evening at the Threshpys, the athletic banquet (see sidebar).

He then presented the Gerry Sieber Service Award to Brad Schmidt, director of alumni engagement. Other named awards in athletics were also given at the Threshpys (see sidebar).

Bethel President Jon Gering, Ph.D., concluded the final convocation of the year by noting faculty promotions: to full professor, Francisca Méndez-Harclerode, Ph.D., biology, and to associate professor, Jennifer Chappell-Deckert, Ph.D., social work.

Gering also named staff and faculty receiving service awards – for 30 years at Bethel, Cynthia Beth, development office assistant, Patricia Shelly, Ph.D., professor of Bible and religion, and John Thiesen, director of the Mennonite Library and Archives; for 25 years, Lisa Janzen Scott, associate professor of mathematics and teacher education; and for 20 years, Gregg Dick, controller, and William Eash.

There were also several faculty and staff recognized for 15, 10 or 5 years of service.

There are two retirements at the end of this school year: Dwight Krehbiel, professor of psychology, after 41 years, and Gail Niles Stucky, co-director of libraries and interim forensics coach, after 33 years.

Bethel College is the only Kansas private college listed in the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2018-19. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to


Sidebar: 2019 URICA Awards for Bethel student research

Each year, Bethel College offers support for student summer research through the Undergraduate Research, Internships and Creative Activity (URICA) program.

These grants provide a $1,000 stipend to each student selected, with additional, smaller cash awards, as available, to the mentor/s working with the student and to the student’s department to help defray the research expenses of the project.

The URICA Committee – currently Dwight Krehbiel, Ph.D., professor of psychology, Kip Wedel, Ph.D., associate professor of history and peace studies, Megan Kershner, director of career services, and Donalyn Manion, instructor of graphic design – evaluates student proposals and makes award decisions.

Wedel announced the committee’s award decisions for 2019 at convocation on May 10.

Students awarded URICA Summer Research Grants for 2019, with their faculty mentors, are: Sarah Balzer, senior from Inman, “Outcomes of KIPCOR’s Restorative Schools Initiative Training Programs,” with Jennifer Chappell-Deckert, Ph.D., social work; Akiyaa Hagen-Depusoir, senior from Salina, “Examining the Cost of Food Insecurity in Higher Education and the Emergence of Food Pantries on College Campuses in Response,” with Ada Schmidt-Tieszen, Ph.D., social work; Madison Hofer-Holdeman, senior from Wichita, “Ecocriticism and Violence in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: The Colonist’s Perspective,” with Siobhán Scarry, Ph.D., English; Caroline Preheim, junior from Nolensville, Tenn., “Long-Term Effects of Corporal Punishment on Children and their Behavior,” with Rachel Messer, Ph.D., psychology; Kaci Wilson, senior from Sterling, “Extraction of Pharmaceuticals from Native Prairie Plants using HPLC,” with Kathryn Layman, Ph.D., and Jeremy Mitchell-Koch, Ph.D., chemistry; and Kaho Yanagidaira, senior from Nagano, Japan, “Ergonomically Scaled Piano Keyboards for Small-handed Pianists in Japan: Implications for Marketing,” with Allison McFarland, Ph.D., business.

The students will do their primary research this summer and make public presentations during the 2018-19 school year in a special convocation and in the annual URICA Symposium in spring.

Bethel College is the only Kansas private college listed in the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2018-19. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to


Sidebar: Achievement awards for Bethel athletes

Daktronics-NAIA All-America Scholar-Athletes (3.5 cumulative GPA):

Men’s basketball

Jalal Gondal, Noble, Okla.

Sam Morgan, White City

Trey Sleep, Holcomb

● Women’s basketball

Riley Schmieder, Wellman, Iowa

Caitlin Williams, Wellington

● Football

Luke Unruh, Goessel

● Golf (unofficial)

Parker Austin, Derby

Connor Mickens, Meriden

Chase Sparks, Oklahoma City

● Men’s soccer

Randall Schmidt, Lawrence

Dante Texeira, Wichita

● Softball (unofficial)

Jordan Hill, Augusta

Leisle Hoffman, Wichita

Madison McDowell, Basehor

Rebecca Mullen, Wichita

Michelle Schrag, Moundridge

● Men’s tennis

Shawn Bontrager, North Newton

Gabe Johnson, Abilene

Ryan LaCombe, Newton

● Women’s tennis

Mallory Meier, Winfield

Kaci Wilson, Sterling

Serena Wong, North Newton

● Men’s track and field 

Heath Goertzen, Goessel

● Volleyball

Taylor Buessing, Topeka

KCAC Scholar-Athletes – PENDING (must be a sophomore or higher, 3.333 cumulative GPA, lettered; NAIA All-America Scholar-Athletes plus the following):

NAIA All-American athlete

Kyle Wilson, California City, Calif. – Men’s indoor track and field

All-KCAC athletic awards

Men’s basketball

Jaylon Scott, Allen, Texas (All-Freshman Team, Freshman of the Year, All-Defensive Team, 3rd Team)

Kiesean Wieher, Plano, Texas (All-Freshman Team)

Dakota Foster, Oklahoma City (Honorable Mention)

Women’s basketball

Abby Schmidt, Newton (KCAC Defensive Player of the Year – first in program history, 1st Team, All-Defensive Team)

Kendall Michalski, Topeka (Honorable Mention, All-Freshman Team)

Jade Brown, Sanford, Fla. (3rd Team)

Competitive cheer

Sydney Street, Henderson, Colo. (1st Team)

Cristian Castro, Roswell, N.M. (Honorable Mention)

Jessica LaRocque, Cawker City (Honorable Mention)

Victoria Riddick, Aztec, N.M. (Honorable Mention)

Courtney Simpson, Aubrey, Texas (Honorable Mention)

Kalynn Wiles, Pontiac, Ill. (Honorable Mention)

Morgan Hicks, Antioch, Tenn. (2nd Team)

Blayne Stump, Crook, Colorado (2nd Team)

● Football

Jordan Bell, Wichita (Honorable Mention)

Curtis Bent, Wichita (Honorable Mention)

Keondre Churchwell, Phoenix (Honorable Mention)

Zach Esau, Hesston (Honorable Mention)

Tanner Galliart, Pawnee Rock (Honorable Mention)

Robert Graham, Maize (Honorable Mention)

Charles Johnson, Phoenix (Honorable Mention)

Joseph Winfield, Edmond, Okla. (Honorable Mention)

Henry Baxter, Dothan, Ala. (2nd Team)

Camryn Harrison, Austin, Texas (2nd Team)

Joshua Seabolt, Cimarron (2nd Team)

Braeden Starlin-Driver, Winfield (2nd Team)

● Men’s soccer

Jose Rojas, Newton (Honorable Mention)

Kobi Russom, Iowa City, Iowa (Honorable Mention)

● Women’s soccer

Bekah Tonn, Newton (Honorable Mention)

Alayna Wallace, McPherson (Honorable Mention)

● Softball

Madison McDowell, Basehor (1st Team)

Michelle Schrag, Moundridge (Honorable Mention)

Alexis Wilson, Wamego (Honorable Mention)

Emalee Overbay, Louisburg (2nd Team)

Kerrigan Simons, Wichita (2nd Team)

Men’s tennis

Gabe Johnson, Abilene (Sportsmanship Award – second consecutive year)

Nolan Schrader, McPherson (Honorable Mention)

● Women’s tennis

Serena Wong, North Newton (Honorable Mention)

● Men’s indoor track and field

Kyle Wilson, California City, Calif. (KCAC shot put champion)

Braylen Brewer, Tecumseh, Okla. (200 meter, 400 meter)

Robert Graham, Maize (weight throw)

● Women’s indoor track and field

Jen Andres, Newton (60 meter, 100 meter, 200 meter)

Kristen Herzet, Marion (shot put)

● Men’s outdoor track and field

Kyle Wilson, California City, Calif. (KCAC shot put champion)

Braylen Brewer, Tecumseh, Okla. (200 meter, 400 meter)

Robert Graham, Maize (hammer throw)

Angus Siemens, Newton (10,000 meter)

● Women’s outdoor track and field

Alyjah Kennedy, San Diego, Calif. (KCAC long jump champion, triple jump)

Jen Andres, Newton (200 meter)

Courtney Herzet, Marion (javelin)

Kristen Herzet, Marion (discus, hammer throw, javelin)

● Volleyball

Nicole Klusener, Andover (3rd Team)



Sidebar: Nursing Awards

The nursing Class of 2019 held their pinning ceremony May 18, in which they recognized academic achievement and special award winners, and gave the 30 class members (there are also six RN-to-BSN students who will complete coursework this summer) their apricot stoles to wear at commencement, in addition to their nursing pins.

Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing

Hanna Bornhorst, Wichita

Emily Epp, Marion, S.D.

Anna Grimsley, Hesston

Kristen Hilger, Conway Springs

Emily Knight, Moundridge

Anthony Mapes, Derby

Madison McDowell, Basehor

Ashlynn Speakman, Wichita

Anna Stucky, Moundridge

Olivia Wetter, Colby

Iota Chi Award for the highest GPA of Bethel College STTI inductees: Anna Stucky

BDH/BC NAA* Florence Nightingale Award

Harrison Lamp, Wichita

*Bethel Deaconess Hospital/Bethel College Nursing Alumni Association

Janlee Blosser Maternal/Child Nursing Award

Kristen Hilger

Janlee Blosser Maternal/Child Nursing Mentor Award

Luciano Astorga, Wesley Hospital, Wichita, nominated by Avery Myatt, Windsor, Colo.

Jubilee Award (given by Bethel nursing faculty)

SkyLa O'Neal, Independence, Mo.

Doris and Menno Schmidt Award for Excellence in Nursing

Angela Saunders, Fort Belvoir, Va.



Sidebar: Threshpy Awards

by Joshua Booth

Bethel’s end-of-the-year athletic banquet is now called the Threshpys (a nod to ESPN’s ESPY Awards), held this year on May 10.

Student-athletes, coaches and administrators came together for a fun-filled evening in Memorial Hall, celebrating this year’s athletic accomplishments, with 350 attending.

Award winners were honored throughout the night by guest presenters from across campus as well as the coaching staffs. The celebrity host was Carly Willis, a reporter for the Wichita-market NBC affiliate, KSN-News.

The event would not have been possible without the title sponsor of the evening, Farm Bureau-Jason High Agency. In addition to financial support, many agency employees attended the banquet, and helped announce the Athletes of the Year from the stage.

Threshpy Awards, selected by student vote, were as follows:

Female Freshman of the Year: Kendall Michalski, Topeka, basketball 
Male Freshman of the Year: Jaylon Scott, Allen, Texas, basketball
Unsung Hero of the Year: Trey Sleep, graduating senior from Holcomb, men’s basketball
Comeback of the Year: Softball vs. Oklahoma Wesleyan, March 20 at home
Female Breakthrough Athlete of the Year: Kerrigan Simons, senior from Wichita, softball
Male Breakthrough Athlete of the Year: Dakota Foster, junior from Oklahoma City, men’s basketball
Female Newcomer of the Year: Kristen Herzet, senior from Marion, track & field
Male Newcomer of the Year: Tanner Galliart, junior from Pawnee Rock, football
Female Individual Performance of the Year: Alyjah Kennedy, senior from San Diego, Calif., breaking the Bethel long jump record at the KU Relays
Male Individual Performance of the Year: Kyle Wilson, graduating senior from California City, Calif., breaking the Bethel indoor shot put record at the NAIA Indoor Nationals and finishing in 3rd place

Play of the Year: Brayden Francis, freshman from Sedgwick, football

Game of the Year: Women’s basketball defeating #11 nationally ranked Sterling, 70-68, Jan. 30 at home

Team of the Year: Women’s basketball
Female Athlete of the Year: Abby Schmidt, sophomore from Newton, basketball
Male Athlete of the Year: Kyle Wilson, graduating senior from California City, Calif., track & field

There were also department awards given out during the Threshpys ceremony. These included the Loren and Peggy Reusser Spirit Award Scholarships, the Douglas A. Penner Champions of Character Awards, and the George Rogers III Outstanding Athletes of the Year. Winners were:

Reusser Spirit Award Scholarships: 1st place, Jennifer Harrison, junior from Ft. Scott, and Joseph Winfield, junior from Edmond, Okla.; runners-up, Kendra Gooden, freshman from Wichita, and Jerod Kaufman, sophomore from Moundridge
Penner Champions of Character Awards: Ryan LaCombe, senior from Newton, Abby Schmidt, sophomore from Newton, and Alayna Wallace, sophomore from McPherson
Rogers Outstanding Athletes of the Year: Jade Brown, graduating senior from Sanford, Fla., and Kyle Wilson, graduating senior from California City, Calif.

Gerry Sieber Service Award (presented earlier in the day at convocation): Brad Schmidt, director of alumni development



Sidebar: Athletic letter winners

4-year letter winners

The following completed four years in their respective sport at Bethel College, receiving a glass threshing stone.

Athletic Director Tony Hoops noted that it is becoming increasingly rare to recognize 4-year letter winners, because it’s also less common for a student-athlete to complete four years in a sport at one school.

Henry Baxter, Dothan, Ala. – football

Jordan Bell, Wichita – football

Grant Bellar, Conway Springs – men’s tennis

Taylor Buessing, Topeka – volleyball

Heath Goertzen, Goessel – men’s track and field

Leisle Hoffman, Wichita – softball

Gabe Johnson, Abilene – men’s tennis

Garrett Lindley, Goddard – cheer

Connor Mickens, Meriden – golf

Kobi Russom, Iowa City, Iowa – men’s soccer

Tyshawn Simon, Columbia, S.C. – football

Randall Schmidt, Lawrence – men’s soccer

Riley Schmieder, Wellman, Iowa – women’s basketball

Michelle Schrag, Moundridge – softball

Karlie Schroeder, Buda, Texas – women’s basketball

Alexis Wilson, Wamego – softball

Serena Wong, North Newton –women’s tennis

Seniors completing eligibility (B Letter Award); in addition to 4-year letter winners

The following earned at least one letter in their respective sport during their time at Bethel College, and received a framed letter “B”:

Miguel Ballesteros, San Diego – football

Jade Brown, Sanford, Fla. – women’s basketball

RoShawn Brown Jr., Fairfield, Calif. – football

Marquese Burnley, Birmingham, Ala.– football 

Rachel Bustillos, Rosemead, Calif. – volleyball

Joshua Clay, Escondido, Calif. – men’s soccer

Rachel Craft, Colorado Springs, Colo. – women’s soccer

David Fuentes, Garden City – men’s soccer

Vivian Gonzalez, Converse, Texas – women’s soccer

Jordan Hill, Augusta – softball

Charles Johnson, Phoenix – football

David Kinnicut, Oakley, Calif. – football

Emily Knight, Moundridge – women’s cross country

Lieacha Lettau, Hays – cheer

Khalif Majied, Las Vegas, Nev. – football 

Alexandra Martin, Clay Center – softball

Bethany Montoya, Wilmer, Texas – women’s soccer

Sam Morgan, White City – men’s basketball

Rebecca Mullen, Wichita – softball

Shavane Morrison, Trenton, N.J. – football

Avery Myatt, Windsor, Colo. – volleyball

Connick Roe, Kingman – men’s tennis

Jacob Rogers, Riverside, Calif. – football

Trey Sleep, Holcomb – men’s basketball

Chris Torres, Denton, Texas – men’s soccer

Caitlin Williams, Wellington – women’s basketball

Kyle Wilson, California City, Calif. – men’s track and field


About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.