Whitworth Announces 2017-18 Special Award Winners

Whitworth Announces 2017-18 Special Award Winners

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University Department of Athletics has recognized four outstanding student-athletes with the school's year-end senior awards.  Football player Ian Kolste received the 2018 Dennis Spurlock Award, Kayla Leland (women's track) and Joel Condreay (baseball) are the Senior Athletes of the Year, and Megan Thompson (swimming) is the recipient of the Aaron Leetch Inspiration Award.

The Whitworth athletics department voted on the 2017-18 awards near the end of the school year.

The Dennis Spurlock Award is named in memory of the former Pirate All-America quarterback (1958-61). The award was established to honor Whitworth student-athletes who model the characteristics of the award's namesake, specifically modesty, poise, and leadership in addition to excellence in athletics performance, drawing respect for the school, the team, and the individual.

Ian Kolste completed his stellar Pirate career as the 2017 Northwest Conference Offensive Player of the Year.  Kolste (Oak Harbor, Wash. / Oak Harbor) led the NWC in passing yards (2,483), passing touchdowns (26), passing efficiency (149.5), completion percentage (67.8) and total offense (2,515) in 2017.  He did all of that despite the fact that he only played in 25 out of 40 total quarters of football.  He missed half of the game against George Fox and all of the game at Pacific Lutheran with an ankle injury.  He came out of six other games early after Whitworth had built a comfortable lead.  He only played two quarters of three Pirate victories (LaVerne, Puget Sound and Willamette).  Kolste retires as Whitworth's all-time leader in total offense (10,467), passing yards (10,124), passing touchdowns (85), pass completions (946) and pass attempts (1,424).  He had a record of 26-6 as the Pirates' starting QB.

The Whitworth Senior Athlete of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic achievement during a student's final year of eligibility.

Kayla Leland (Spokane, Wash. / Gonzaga Prep) has concluded her running career at Whitworth in stellar fashion.  Her senior season began with the first Northwest Conference women's cross country individual title in school history and a third place finish at the NCAA West Region meet in California.  She became an All-American in cross country with a 19th place finish at the NCAA Division III championships in Elsah, Illinois.  She finished fifth in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships in March in Birmingham, Alabama.  Leland heads into the 2018 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships (May 24-26) with the best time in the country this season in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and with the third best time in the 5,000 meters.  Over the course of her Whitworth running career, Leland has earned two cross country All-America honors and four track & field All-America finishes.  She holds the school record in every distance of 1,500 meters or longer.

Joel Condreay (Renton, Wash. / Kentridge) earned Academic All-District recognition for the third year in a row following his senior season.  He led the Pirates in batting average (.355), on-base percentage (.438) and slugging average (.532) in 2018.  He also led the Pirates in doubles (16) and was second on the team in runs batted in (25).  A terrific defensive shortstop, Condreay was part of 20 double plays.  Condreay earned first team All-Northwest Conference recognition and was a three-time All-NWC honoree following honorable mention selection as a sophomore and second team as a junior. 

The Aaron Leetch Inspiration Award was created in 2015 to honor the memory of the former Whitworth Director of Athletics who perished in a plane crash in April of that year.  It recognizes a Pirate student-athlete who embodies inspiration, passion, perseverance and dedication to his or her sport.

Megan Thompson (Austin, Texas / St. Andrews Episcopal) arrived at Whitworth in the fall of 2014 unsure if her arm would hold up to the rigors of college swimming.  An UTV accident during her junior year of high school had nearly cost Thompson her right arm.  Not only did she hold up, she was instrumental in the Pirates' success.  She scored at the Northwest Conference championships in every event in which she competed from her first year through her junior year, finishing as high as fourth place in the 500-yard and 200-yard freestyles in 2017 as a junior.  During a 1,650-freestyle at a dual meet in January, Thompson could not complete the race due to a buildup of scar tissue and pressure on her ulna nerve in her elbow.  After treatment, Thompson trained through the pain, adjusted her event schedule and still scored individually in two races at the 2018 NWC Championships in February, placing seventh in the 200-yard freestyle and 11th in the 200-yard backstroke.

Members of the Whitworth athletics department voted for these student-athletes from among a strong class of Pirate seniors in 2018.  All four were recognized and presented with their awards at the Senior Awards Dessert on Saturday afternoon and at the Senior Reflections on Saturday night during graduation weekend ceremonies.