Cross-Country Celebrates 2007 Achievements!
Winston-Salem, NC- The atmosphere was joyous and celebration was in the air Sunday evening on Salem College’s beautiful campus. Salem College student-athletes, parents, siblings, coaches and administration were gathered in the decorated club dining room in anticipation of tonight’s award ceremony.
Dr. Susan Pauly, Salem College’s 19th President, address the Athletic Celebration with a theme on celebrating the successes that Salem College Athletics have achieved in 2007-2008. “We are celebrating the extra-ordinary balance that somehow you achieve every year when you participate in athletics between training, coaches, studying…don’t forget to study, work study…you are absolutely amazing!”
Tonight’s guest speaker was Ms. Elaine Penn, a former All-American basketball player who was inducted into the Greensboro College Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. Ms. Penn is a nationally recognized lecturer, trainer, performer and a former college volleyball coach for nine years. Ms. Penn’s presentation was truly inspiring as she had a high energy presentation. “When you touch just one person’s life, it has a ripple effect across the world,” stated Ms. Penn. Performing “Make A Difference,” a song she wrote, Ms. Penn sang of how we’re all connected and how we’re all responsible for each other.
The Ann Woodward Athlete of the Year, award that is presented to the Salem College athlete who has achieved team and individual greatness during the 2007-2008 year, was announced as the crowd listened in anticipation. “This individual holds more records in any sport at Salem College,” stated Kim Fierke, the Director of Athletics. “In fact, this young woman holds 14 different records in two different sports. During the fall of 2007, she broke the cross-country 4000, 5000 and 6000 meter school record in a span of just 15 days. She established herself as the #1 North Carolina NCAA Division III Cross-Country Runner for the second year in a row as she won the individual championship in the North Carolina State Championship and led Salem College to the team championship. Later, she finished as the individual champion in the Association of Division III Independents Cross-Country Championships in Boston, Massachusetts while leading Salem College to the overall team championships. She was honored nationally as the Association of Division III Independents Runner of the Year and was named on the All-Association First Team. As soon as this student-athlete stepped off the plane from Boston, she started training for swim season. She continued being successful as she broke the 100 backstroke record and now holds 11 Salem College Swim Records (50% of all records). This remarkable student-athlete led the swim team in victories and points scored for the season. Throughout all her success, she stayed humble and cheered her teammates on at every meet. This year’s Ann Woodward Athlete of the Year Award goes to Rachel Fichthorn.”
The Scholar Team Award was presented for the first time by the Salem College Athletic Department. “This award was created this year through discussions with the coaching staff on the importance of academics,” Fierke stated. “I am so proud to work with coaches who value the academic work above everything else. This was so important that we ordered a plaque to hang in the hallway to honor the team each year. This award is presented to the team that has the highest cumulative grade point average among its athletes. When I asked the Registrar to run a report to determine the cumulative, I knew it would be spectacular – and it was. Three of our varsity teams hold cumulative gpa’s above 3.1. Listen to this incredible stat: 2.38, 3.52, 3.16, 2.75, 3.11, and 2.94. This year’s Scholar Team Award goes to Cross Country.”
The Scholar-Athlete Award was also in its inaugural year. “The Scholar Athlete of the Year Award is presented to the student-athlete letter winner that is a sophomore, junior or senior that has the best cumulative grade point average,” explained Fierke. “Again, a plaque was created to hang in the hallway to celebrate the most deserving individual every year. This individual is a music major from Machiasport, Maine and is currently the #2 ranked NCAA Division III Women’s Cross-Country Runner in the state of North Carolina. This year’s Scholar Athlete of the Year goes to Daphne Nichols.”
The Association of Division III Independents also honored Salem College with three of the highest national awards for 2007-2008. “These national awards bring honor and pride to Salem College and we are honoring each recipient with a special plaque” said Kim Fierke.Rachel Fichthorn (Jr, Nokesville) was honored as the 2007 Association of Division III Independents Women’s Cross-Country Runner of the Year. Fichthorn defeated 519 runners from Division I, II, III and NAIA schools in 2007. Throughout the season, Fichthorn remained undefeated in North Carolina Division III cross-country. Against Virginia Division III competition, Fichthorn defeated all but 4 runners. Fichthorn was the Division III Champion in 5 out of 7 races in 2007.
Coach Widner was honored as the Association of Division III Independents Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. Widner led the Spirits to the North Carolina NCAA Division III State Championships and the Association of Division III Atlantic Region Championships. During the 2007 season, every team record was broken in 2007. Coach Widner has led Salem College into its first three years of NCAA Division III competition.
The following student-athletes were honored with post-season awards by the Association of Division III Independents:
Rachel Fichthorn (Jr, Nokesville, VA)-Cross Country
§ 2007 All-Independent Women’s Cross-Country First Team
Daphne Nichols (Jr, Machiasport, ME)-Cross Country
§ 2007 All-Independent Women’s Cross-Country Second TeamCross-Country Awards Presented by Coach Widner:
Most Outstanding Runner- Rachel Fichthorn (Jr, Nokesville, VA)
Coaches Award- Julie Piernikowski (FY, Potomac, MD)
The 2007 cross-country letter winners were Rachel Fichthorn (3), Lauren Meek (2), Ariel Barker (2), Daphne Nichols (1), Anna Nieboer (1) and Julie Piernikowski (1).
The 2007-2008 year was definitely a year of celebration for Salem College Athletics. This also marks the end of Salem College’s three years of provisional NCAA status. Starting in the fall of 2008, Salem College will a full NCAA Division III member, thus making them eligible for any NCAA post season tournament.