SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University Department of Athletics has recognized four outstanding student-athletes with the school’s year-end senior awards. Track and cross country standout Marissa Mount received the 2019 Dennis Spurlock Award, Derrick Phelps (men’s golf) and Michelle Silva (softball) are the 2019 Senior Athletes of the Year, and Marissa Kirk (women’s tennis) is the recipient of the Aaron Leetch Inspiration Award.
The Whitworth athletics department voted on the 2018-19 awards last week.
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.
Already an NCAA Division III All-American in both track and field and cross country, Mount (San Jose, Calif.) still has a chance to add to her accomplishments as a Whitworth student-athlete later this month at the NCAA Div. III Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Geneva, Ohio. She currently has the second-fastest time in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase. Last month Mount scored 29 points at the Northwest Conference Track and Field Championships with a win in the steeplechase, second place finish in the 10,000-meters, third in the 5,000-meters and fourth in the 1,500 meters, covering 19.5 kilometers in 24 hours. Last fall Mount was the Northwest Conference women’s cross country champion and the NWC Athlete of the Year. She went on to claim All-America honors at the NCAA Division III championships in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and won the Elite 90 Award, presented to the NCAA championship competitor with the highest grade point average. In 2018 Mount finished fourth in the women’s steeplechase at the NCAA Division III Outdoor meet to claim her first All-America recognition. Mount served as a team captain both track and field and cross country in 2018-19 and was a key member Whitworth’s undergraduate business program. She will graduate this spring as a double major in accounting and finance.
The Whitworth Senior Athlete of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic achievement during a student's final year of eligibility, which culminates an accomplished career as a Pirate.
Phelps (Zillah, Wash.) made the most of his one year at Whitworth. Phelps was selected as the Northwest Conference Player of the Year in men’s golf after guiding the Pirates to a second place finish in the league standings. A two-year player for CC of Spokane under current Whitworth head coach Scott Kramer, Phelps spent one season at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington before transferring back to Spokane to reunite with Kramer. Phelps finished among the top three individuals at each of the three NWC championship circuit events in 2018-19. He was second at the NWC Fall Classic last October, third at the NWC Spring Classic in mid-April and runner-up at the NWC Tournament in Walla Walla by a single stroke. Phelps was the medalist in his first tournament as a Pirate and added another first place finish at the NWC North tournament in early April. Phelps posted a scoring average of 73.0 over 22 rounds of golf in 2018-19.
Silva (Aloha, Ore.) earned All-Northwest Conference recognition in softball each of her four seasons at Whitworth. She was a first team honoree in 2017 and 2018 and a second team choice in 2019. Silva batted .344 with eight doubles, three triples and five home runs as a senior. She drove in 34 runs, scored 36 times and stole 12 bases in her final season. Silva set Pirate single-season records for hits (57) and runs (40), set during her sophomore campaign. She is Whitworth’s career record-holder for hits (181), runs (133) and triples (9). She came within a single RBI of tying the Bucs’ career record of 128 and within two doubles of tying that mark (42). Silva served as a Pirate team captain in 2019 and was a key member of Whitworth’s student-athlete advisory council (SAAC).
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.
Kirk (Bellevue, Wash.) was featured in a Spokane Spokesman-Review story in April, detailing her battle with hip dysplasia, which causes pain every time she plays tennis for Whitworth. She had struggled with the hip disorder since childhood, finally having surgery in high school, which placed her in a wheel chair for nearly a year. She returned to the sport she loved in college, first for two years at Bellevue CC then her final two seasons at Whitworth, where she was a starter in singles and doubles. The adopted daughter of a single mother, Marissa and her mom now work together to overcome her mother’s cancer diagnosis
Members of the Whitworth athletics department voted for these student-athletes from among a strong class of Pirate seniors in 2019. All four will be recognized and presented with their awards at the department’s Senior Awards dessert on the afternoon of May 18 and at Whitworth’s Senior Reflections on Saturday evening during graduation weekend ceremonies.