Track twins Jenni and Corie Krueger run away with PLU Women
of the Year
in Sports award
BY NICK DAWSON
Ask their coaches, their teachers or their
teammates what makes twin
sisters Jenni and Corie Krueger so outstanding as student-athletes and
you'll hear such things as: dedicated, hard working, inspirational,
athletic, intelligent, goal setters and achievers, not settling for
That's the short list.
Ask the Kruegers the same question and expect uneasy silence. Squirming in chairs. More uneasy silence. That's because "humble" is another word that describes these gifted and giving Pacific Lutheran University seniors.
It's all of these things - plus All-America status on both the athletic fields and in the classroom - that make the Kruegers natural co-winners of the 1997 Pacific Lutheran University Woman of the Year in Sports Award.
The Kruegers were honored along with 13 other men and women at the 27th
Annual All Sports Dessert on May 4.
Joining the Kruegers on the awards podium were: Brian Walker and Kelly Pranghofer, Jack Hewins Man of the Year in Sports; Janelle Gunter and Masako Watanabe, Female Senior Athlete; Matt Bliss, Aaron Ells and Chris Peirce, Male Senior Athlete; Kim Baldwin and Kevin Bartholomae, Lute Inspirational Award; Jennifer Tolzmann and Andrew Wilson, George Fisher Scholar-Athlete; Dave Johnson, Lute Service Award; and Mark Salzman, Distinguished Alumnus in Athletics.
The Kruegers came to Pacific Lutheran in the fall of 1993 out of rural Molalla, Ore. They chose Pacific Lutheran, which had the soccer program and family-oriented, small school atmosphere they desired. A little bit of home four hours away from Molalla.
"When we came up here and visited," remembers Jenni, "the people we met made a difference." People like Professor Colleen Hacker, who served as their soccer coach for three years before turning over the program to Sue Shinafelt. The Kruegers would go on to play soccer in one of the top small college programs in the Northwest, Jenni as a two-year starter and Corie moving into the starting 11 as a senior.
Always hard workers, the Kruegers showed excellent team leadership as captains during their senior season, helping Shinafelt in the difficult adjustment of taking over a program that had won three national titles since 1988. "Corie and Jenni exemplified leadership and showed me exceptional character," says Shinafelt. "They have represented Pacific Lutheran and the athletic program with the utmost integrity." While the Kruegers had always envisioned themselves as capable collegiate soccer players, and to a lesser degree basketball players (the twins played one year at PLU, earning letters), Jenni put it best for the pair when she said "I never thought of myself as a college track athlete." But it's in that spring sport that the Kruegers have excelled to the point of earning elite All-America status.
After watching friend Troy Arnold throw the hammer - a weighted metal ball on the end of a four-foot cable - during their sophomore years, the Kruegers, "Started throwing the hammer for the fun of it," says Jenni. Combining their athleticism and quickness, key ingredients in the women's hammer throw, the Kruegers made the sport their own. At the first year of women's hammer throw competition at the NAIA national meet in 1996, Jenni finished second and Corie, third. That reversed their standing throughout a season in which Corie had established the school record, chucking the eight-pound ball a remarkable 154 feet, 3 inches.
Going into conference and regional competition this year, Corie had upped her school record to 158 feet, 2 inches, just ahead of Jenni's 156 feet, 9 inches. In fact, in the early part of the 1997 season, Jenni had taken the hammer throw record from her sister, only to see Corie regain it two weeks later.
Their athletic success is not limited to the hammer throw ring, however, not by a long shot. No, the twins don't regularly put the shot, but they are key performers in other events for the Pacific Lutheran track and field team. While Corie helps in the sprints, Jenni has established herself as one of the NAIA's top heptathletes. The heptathlon is a grueling two-day, seven-event test of will, stamina and ability, and Jenni recorded the second best score in PLU history - 4,311 points in only her second heptathlon - to win the 1997 conference title. She has qualified for the 1997 national meet in that event.
What impresses veteran PLU track and field coach Brad Moore about the Kruegers is not their high placing at nationals, but their perspective toward athletics. "They both have a great joy for working out and competing, and it just carries over to other people around them. Those two are living examples of the 'excellence through the joy of sports' philosophy of our athletic department," he says.
Corie and Jenni have been just as dedicated to pursuing excellence with joy in their schoolwork. They both earned NAIA All-America Scholar-Athlete accord two straight years in both soccer and track and field. The award goes to student-athletes who are significant contributors to their athletic teams and who maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5. Entering the spring semester of their senior years, Corie, a physical education major with a history minor, has a 3.63 GPA. Jenni, a physical education major with a health minor, has a 3.68 GPA.
After graduation the Kruegers want to teach and coach, most likely at the junior high or middle school level. To that end, both will student teach in the fall, though Corie has something more exciting on which to focus this summer. She will marry fellow student-athlete (and hammer thrower, no less) Jon Roberts. Jenni, who has been by her sister's side for more than 21 years, will serve as maid of honor.
Dedicated? Yes. Inspirational? Just ask their friends, teammates and coaches. Intelligent? Ask their teachers. Humble? Sure, that has to be included. Women of the Year in Sports? A fitting conclusion to four outstanding years for the gifted and giving Krueger twins.
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Track (men's and women's)