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Parkland Athletes of the Year Named

Athletes of the Year, Newcomers of the Year, Student-Athletes of the Year announced

Rod Lovett
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
The Parkland College Athletics department recently announced its Athlete of the Year awards for the 2016-17 season.

Laura GrossFor the second consecutive year, Volleyball player Laura Gross and Baseball pitcher Brady Schanuel have been named the Parkland College Male and Female Athletes of the Year. It is only the second time since the award began in 2007 that a male athlete has earned the award twice (golfer Michael Davan in 2008 and 2009) and the first time a female athlete has earned such recognition.
Gross wrapped up an incredible two-year run for the Cobras where she helped lead the team to back-to-back National titles and an overall record of (109-2), winning MWAC and Region 24 titles along the way. Gross was a two-time 1st team NJCAA D-2 Volleyball All-American and earned M-WAC and Region 24 Player of the Year recognition this season. She was recently named the MWAC Female Athlete of the Year. In 2016, she was also named an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) 1st team All-American. Gross led the 2016 Cobras in kills (493) and digs (448) while finishing 2nd in aces and total blocks. She was also an NJCAA Academic All-American and transferred to Indiana State University this spring on a volleyball scholarship.

Brady SchanuelSchanuel also completed an amazing career, leading the Cobras to back-to-back World Series appearances for the first time since the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Parkland was (97-25-1) during his two years, finishing 3rd at the World Series this year after placing 8th in 2016. Schanuel earned the win in game one of the World Series this season, as he went seven innings striking out 15 in an 8-5 victory over UConn-Avery Point. The hard-throwing righty struck out a record setting 21 batters this year in a win over Lincoln as he finished 10-1 with a 2.13 ERA, striking out 130 hitters in 80.1 innings of work. He leaves Parkland College as the Cobras' single-season (131) and career leader in strike outs (261) and earned run average and is tied for the most career wins (20).

Schanuel earned 1st Team NJCAA D-II Baseball All-American honors this week after being chosen as a 2nd team selection last year. He is one of only three Parkland Baseball players to ever be a two-time All-American (Derek Drage 2002-2003 and Kevin Kiermaier (2009 and 2010). This season, he led NJCAA D-2 in both total strikeouts and strikeouts per inning pitched. He was the only repeat player on this year’s All-American team. He was drafted earlier this month in the 20th round by the Philadelphia Phillies and has signed a Baseball scholarship to play at the University of Iowa. 

Cobra Soccer Goalkeeper Matt Sharman (1st Team All-American) and Women’s Soccer star Ellie McKenzie (2nd Team AA school record in career and season goals/points) were the runners-up for both awards.
Champaign's Beesley earns Parkland Cobras "Spirit" Award

BeesleyParkland College Men’s Basketball and Baseball player Luke Beesley has been named the winner of the 2017 Cobra Spirit Award. This award is given annually to a Parkland athlete who goes above and beyond expectations with regards to both academic and athletic achievement, dedication, commitment, attitude, and work ethic. Beesley becomes the first athlete in Parkland history to play on two teams and make it to Nationals in both sports, both seasons. In his four sport seasons, Beesley’s teams won four M-WAC and four Region 24 titles finished 5th and 6th in Basketball and 3rd and 8th in Baseball.

The Champaign Central graduate was an All-Conference and Region honoree in Basketball, despite often playing the post position against much taller opponents. Beesley averaged 8.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest for the (30-4) Cobras. He saved his best performances for the post-season, as Beesley averaged 12.7 points and 12.7 rebounds over the Cobras final six games, earning him a spot on the All-Tournament team at the NJCAA D-II Basketball Tournament and leading Parkland to a 5th-place finish. He had double-doubles in five of those six games with a high of 16 points and 16 rebounds against Johnson County. Despite getting limited playing time in baseball where he hit .286 this season as a back-up catcher, Beesley was a valuable member of the squad with his strong leadership skills. The Baseball team finished (52-9-1), earning 3rd place in the recently completed NJCAA D-II World Series.

In addition to his outstanding play on the court and field, Beesley excelled in the classroom, where he earned an Associate in Science degree in Kinesiology with a 3.77 grade point average. He is a two-time NJCAA Academic All-American and M-WAC Academic honoree and will attend Southern Connecticut State on a Basketball scholarship.

Men’s Soccer star Johnny Pugh and Baseball standout Cory Wright were the other finalists for this award.

Cobra Golfer named Parkland Newcomer of the Year
NielsenParkland freshman golfer Andreas Nielsen (Ikast, Denmark) has been chosen as the Parkland College Athletic Department Newcomer of the Year. Nielsen helped lead the Cobras to their first NJCAA D-2 Golf appearance since 2014. The Cobras ended up with a 10th-place finish at Nationals out of 21 teams that qualified.

Nielsen earned both M-WAC and Region 24 Player of the Year honors by winning their respective tournaments. He was named the M-WAC POY after firing a 67 in the individual completion of the conference tournament, defeating ICC’s Jake Plummer by three strokes. Nielsen carded a 223 (73-75-75) to edge out Tyler Rieser of Mineral Area to win the Region 24/Midwest District title at Illinois State in early May. During the regular season, Nielsen tied for 1st at the Webster University Invite, placed 3rd at the Millikin Classic, and 4th at the Taylor University Invitational.

Freshman pitcher Luke Smith (10-0, 1st Team all-Conference) and Volleyball star Fia Willis (MWAC Freshman of the Year) were the other finalists for the Newcomer of the Year Award.
Sophomore Duo Take Home Athletic Department Academic Award

Parkland Volleyball setter Jaime Johnson (Champaign, IL.) and Men’s Soccer defender Daniel White (Sheffield, England) are the 2017 recipients of the Parkland Athletics Academic Achievement Award. This award, which recognizes each student’s accomplishments both in the classroom and on the field, is awarded each June by the Parkland Athletic Department.

Johnson was the starting setter this fall on the National Champion Cobra Volleyball team (54-2) where her play earned her 2nd Team NJCAA All-American honors. She was also a First team All-Conference and All-Region selection and was named to the All-Tournament team. In addition to her outstanding play on the Volleyball court, Johnson will graduate from Parkland in Secondary Education with an over-all grade point average of 3.84. She is a two-time NJCAA Academic All-American as well as an M-WAC All-Academic honoree. She will continue her play at Western Illinois next season.

White was the leader of the Cobra defense that helped the Men’s Soccer program to a final record of (21-2) and a first ever trip to the NJCAA D-1 Soccer Nationals where PC placed 6th. White also was a big part of the Cobras winning the M-WAC title and the Region 24 and District championships. He was a 2nd Team Junior College NSCAA Scholar All-American and a two-time NJCAA and M-WAC Academic honoree. He graduated from Parkland with a 3.75 GPA and an Associate in Science degree. White will continue his soccer career at NCAA D-II West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

Congratulations to both recipients and to all of the Parkland student-athletes who achieved success in the classroom. 

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