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Students earn national athletic, academic honors

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – When the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics announced the 2016 Football All-American list, a Bethel College player was on it.

The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), which compiles the NAIA list, named senior Rickey Rodriguez, Port St. Lucie, Florida, to the First Team at the cornerback position.

Rodriguez led the Threshers secondary all season, and has been a contributor for the Bethel football program all four years.

Rodriguez proved himself one of the top cornerbacks in the entire NAIA this season. He was the lead playmaker for the Threshers defense, which as a whole limited their opponents to an average of 167 passing yards per game, 12th best in the NAIA.

Rodriguez’s six interceptions led the entire Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, and proved to be the 7th most by any player in the NAIA. His average of 0.6 interceptions per game ranked him at 5th in the NAIA as well.

Rodriguez also threw in 12 total passes defended this season, good for 2nd in the KCAC and 27th in the NAIA.

He ends his four-year career at Bethel with 13 total interceptions, as well as 139 total tackles.

Rodriguez is the first All-American Bethel has produced during head coach Morris Lolar’s two years at Bethel, and the first since current defensive line coach James McCartney earned the honor in 2009.

“This couldn’t have happened to a better kid,” said Lolar. “Rickey played his heart out on the field every game, and he’s a nursing major, so you know he has to be a smart kid.”

The KCAC as a whole produced eight All-Americans, split evenly among the First Team and the Second Team.

In addition to Rodriguez’s athletic award, seven students made the NAIA-Daktronics Scholar-Athletes list in three different sports.

To be named to this list, a student must have achieved junior academic status and maintain a 3.5 or higher grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Head coaches and sports information directors make the nominations.

Bethel’s NAIA-Daktronics Scholar-Athletes are: from women’s soccer, seniors Kelsey Peterson, Allen, Texas, and Rachael Terbush, Castle Rock, Colorado, both for the second year, and juniors Jessica Krestine, Leawood, and Lacey Pfannenstiel, Hays; from women’s cross country, senior Katelyn Fatten, Riverside, California, and junior Kiley Varney, Hesston; and from volleyball, senior Tia Goertzen, Goessel, also for the second year.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the Forbes.com 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 2016–17. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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

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