A record-setting baseball player and two women who led their teams to outstanding achievement during the 1999-2000 season were the top award winners at the annual Pacific Lutheran University All-Sports Awards dessert held on Sunday, May 7.
Jay Chennault, who broke numerous season and career records for the PLU baseball team, was selected by the university coaches and athletic staff as the Man of the Year in Sports. Track athlete Sarah Axley and volleyball player Ingrid Lindeblad shared the Woman of the Year in Sports Award.
"The All-Sports Dessert honors our best student athletes," says PLU athletic director Paul Hoseth. "Each year we get a list of outstanding nominees from the coaching staff, and this year was no different. It's always a difficult yet enjoyable task to come up with the award winners."
The soft-spoken Chennault has let his bat do the talking through four outstanding seasons on the PLU baseball team. In those four years, the Kelso, Wash., native has rewritten numerous single-season and career records.
Entering his senior season, Chennault already had established PLU career records for runs (114) and hits (157). He continued to add to those numbers in 2000, raising the standard so high it seems unlikely that those records will be broken anytime soon.
During the season, he eclipsed career records for doubles and runs batted in. The latter mark is particularly amazing given the fact that for his first three seasons at PLU, Chennault batted either first or second in the lineup, positions generally regarded as non-conducive for driving in runs.
In addition to his career records, Chennault holds single-season records for at-bats, runs and hits.
"Jay's quiet leadership is not to be taken for granted because he is very loud in his ability to perform at the highest level," says PLU baseball head Coach Larry Marshall. "As coaches we often talk to our athletes about the fact that success comes as a result of hard work. Jay has exemplified that in his career. He's a naturally gifted player who has worked very hard to become one of the finest players I've had the privilege to coach in my 17 years at Pacific Lutheran."
Perhaps as remarkable as Chennault's athletic success is his excellence in the classroom. PLU geology Professor Duncan Foley has called Chennault one of the finest students in the history of Pacific Lutheran University's geosciences program. Chennault, who graduated this spring with a 3.74 grade point average, has been accepted into the Northern Arizona University graduate program where he will study volcanology.
Sarah Axley follows in the footsteps of her older sister, Christine, in more ways than one. Like Christine, Sarah is an outstanding PLU sprinter who figures to score points at the NCAA Division III national meet. Like Christine, who shared the Woman of the Year in Sports recognition in 1999, Sarah will share the same honor in 2000.
Axley has established herself as one of the nation's top sprinters with national meet qualifying times in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes. In addition, she serves as the anchor runner on both the 400- and 1600-meter relay teams that will wear the PLU black-and-gold at nationals.
Sarah exhibits the same kind of dedication to her school work that she exhibits on the track. A Dean's List honoree for four straight years, she maintains a 3.67 grade point average as a business administration major with accounting and finance concentrations.
"Sarah is one of our team leaders both on and off the track," says PLU track & field Coach Brad Moore. "She has so many skills, including her dedication and work ethic, that allow her to be successful in both academics and athletics. She has been a real inspiration to us in the track and field program."
Woman of the Year in Sports: Ingrid Lindeblad, Volleyball
After spending a semester attending school and playing volleyball at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, Spokane native Ingrid Lindeblad decided to transfer to Pacific Lutheran University. It was one of the best things that could have happened to the PLU volleyball program.
Lindeblad, a two-time all-conference selection, led the Northwest Conference in assists per game with 10.8 and was a key reason that the Lutes won their first-ever conference title in 1999.
PLU experienced another volleyball first when it qualified for the NCAA national tournament. "Ingrid has been a tremendous leader for us," says head Coach Kevin Aoki. "She leads by example and is willing to put her teammates first. She is a remarkable person whom we will really miss."
Her off-court success is as impressive as her athletic endeavors. Lindeblad twice was selected to the GTE Co-SIDA academic all-district team by virtue of her athletic success and a 3.92 grade point average.
She graduated this spring from PLU with a degree in English and a writing emphasis. She served as the English Department's undergraduate teaching fellow during her senior year and has been a Writing Center tutor since 1998. She will attend Emerson College in Boston, Mass., starting in the fall of 2000.