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Student-athletes rack up honors on court, course and in classroom

April 16th, 2018

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – As post-season voting wraps up, several Bethel athletes have garnered awards for both playing and classroom prowess.

Freshman basketball player Abby Schmidt, Newton, earned a bucket-load of accolades from the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Schmidt was named to the All-KCAC Second Team and the All-Defensive and All-Freshman teams.

Schmidt started at center for most of the season, helping the team triple their win total from last season.

She led the KCAC in total rebounds with 293, good for 10th among all NAIA District II competitors as well as breaking the single-season record at Bethel (previously set by April Harpe in 2014-15), and in blocks, with 61 total, good for 8th place in the NAIA DII.

This season’s eight-time KCAC Player of the Week, Schmidt received Bethel’s best individual award (Second Team) since April Harpe was KCAC Player of the Year in 2014-15. Schmidt’s All-Freshman Team nod was the first since Lauren Ulrich in 2012-13, and All-Defensive the first since Chelsea Harris in 2011-12.

Men’s basketball player Chase Banister, senior from Douglass, was named to the KCAC Honorable Mention team.

Banister finished his senior season with new personal bests in almost every major statistical category.

He averaged 15.45 points per game (first on the team, seventh in the KCAC), 45.5 percent shooting from the floor (10th in the KCAC), and 75 made three-pointers (fourth in the KCAC and 33rd in the NAIA DII).

Banister’s most brilliant performance came in the Threshers’ intense matchup with Tabor Jan. 24, when he dropped a career-high 40 points. He ends his Thresher career with 1,021 total points scored, and 208 made three-pointers.

Student-athletes were selected for all awards by vote of the KCAC head coaches in their respective sports.

Two more women’s basketball players were first-time Bethel honorees for their all-around achievements.

Riley Schmieder, junior from Wellman, Iowa, and Kylee Schunn, senior from Whitewater, were named to the 2017-18 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District® Women’s Basketball team, Schmieder to the First Team and Schunn to the Second Team.

This award recognizes the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom.

Schmieder and Schunn are the first two Bethel female student-athletes selected for the honor, the first from the same team and the first for this school year. Both put together solid seasons on the court, while continuing their path to being exemplary students at Bethel College.

To be eligible for this award, athletes must hold at least a sophomore standing athletically, have been at their institution for a full school year, have a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 or above on a 4.0 scale, and be major contributors for their teams.

Schmieder shot above 43 percent from the floor for the Threshers this season, while upping her seasonal bests in free-throw percentage (60.4 percent) and total rebounds (100). She also finished third on the team in assists, with 33. This combined with her high academic standing in the biology department helped her earn First-Team Academic All-District® honors.

Schunn only played in 22 games this season, but was still able to help contribute to the team’s successes. She finished her final season by passing the 500-point career milestone, while helping provide veteran leadership down the stretch, as the Threshers won four of their final six games.

Schmieder is now eligible for Academic All-American. The committee looks at the resumes of all 29 First-Team All-District® members, and will make their final decisions in mid-March.

The Academic All-District® teams include student-athletes who are divided into eight geographic districts across the United States and Canada. This is the seventh year of the expanded Academic All-America® program as CoSIDA moved from recognizing a University Division (Division I) and a College Division (all non-Division I) and has doubled the number of scholar-athletes honored. The expanded teams include NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II and NCAA Division III participants, while the College Division Academic All-America® Team combines NAIA, Canadian and two-year schools.

Also earning athletic honors was the Bethel women’s cross-country team, which was the only one in the KCAC of either gender named a 2017 NAIA All-Academic Team. The Bethel women earned the award by posting a cumulative team grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (3.41 for Bethel).

Twenty-eight total schools across the NAIA qualified All-Academic cross-country teams. Bethel runners Kiley Varney, senior from North Newton, and SkyLa O’Neal, junior from Independence, Missouri, are NAIA Daktronics Scholar-Athletes for maintaining 3.5 or higher GPAs, Varney for the second time and O’Neal for the first.

Bethel College ranks at No. 1 in College Consensus’ ranking of Kansas colleges and universities, and is the only Kansas private college listed in the analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2017-18. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

In sports, Bethel competes within the 12-school KCAC and the NAIA. For more information, see and

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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.