News release date: June 3, 2004

Eight Student Athletes Receive First “Outstanding Performer” Awards

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Eight Whitman College student athletes are the first recipients of a new set of athletic achievement awards to be given annually.

Beginning this year, the Whitman Department of Sports Studies, Recreation, and Athletics (SSRA) staff will honor one male and one female from each class year with a Most Outstanding Performer award. The two senior class awards are named in honor of the late Max Seachris, a baseball coach and athletic director at Whitman, and Lee Coleman, a retired swim coach.

Jeff Waggoner, a senior who led the men’s soccer team in scoring for a second straight season, is the first Max Seachris Most Outstanding Performance Award.

Laura Matsen, a senior who earned All-American honors by placing ninth at the NCAA Div. III National Cross Country Championships, is the first recipient of Lee Coleman Most Outstanding Performance Award.

Other winners of the Most Outstanding Performance awards this year are juniors Sean Kinney (baseball) and Katie Schmitz (soccer), sophomores Hannes Zirknitzer (alpine skiing) and Laura Valaas (nordic skiing), and first-year athletes Steven Ly (tennis) and Katie Patneaude (basketball).

Matsen, a graduate of Seattle’s Lakeside School, was a one-year cross country sensation at Whitman. Running cross country for the first time as a collegian, she won a Northwest Conference title in course and meet record time, and then set a new course record in winning the NCAA Div. III West Region race. In placing ninth at the national championships, Matsen was the top finisher from the western U.S. A biology major who starts medical school this fall at Oregon Health Sciences University, Matsen also earned Academic All-American honors.

This spring, Matsen shared in a national championship as a member of the women’s club cycling team. She and three teammates won the Team Time Trial event at the Collegiate National Championships. Matsen also came within an inch or two of winning the women’s 60-mile road race, placing second by an inch or two.

Waggoner, a graduate of Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) High School, combined six goals with four assists to lead the men’s soccer team in scoring last season. One of his season highlights was scoring both goals in Whitman’s 2-0 victory over the University of La Verne.

Waggoner earned All-NWC honors in each of his final three seasons. He was named to the First Team as a senior and junior, after receiving second-team recognition as a sophomore. He finished his collegiate career with 22 goals and 11 assists.

This year’s junior class winners, Sean Kinney and Katey Schmitz, have been key players on their respective teams since first arriving at Whitman.

Kinney, a graduate of Seattle’s Blanchet High School, sparked the baseball team with flawless defensive play in center field and a .396 batting average. He was named to the All-NWC First Team, hitting .406 in 24 conference games.

Kinney, who earned All-NWC honorable mention recognition as a freshman, led Whitman in several batting categories this season, including hits, runs scored, total bases, walks, stolen bases, and hitting, on-base and slugging percentages. He also played his second consecutive season without committing an error in the outfield.

Schmitz, a graduate of Bellevue (Wash.) High School, earned All-NWC Second Team honors for the women’s soccer team last fall. A midfielder/forward, Schmitz contributed six assists and one goal to Whitman’s varied offensive attack. She scored a total of 14 goals in her first two seasons at Whitman, earning All-NWC First Team recognition in her first season.

Hannes Zirknitzer and Laura Valaas, two members of the Whitman ski teams, are this year’s sophomore class winners.

Zirknitzer, who came to Whitman from Bright, Australia, captured All-American honors by placing 10th in the men’s slalom at the NCAA National Championships in March. His achievement was more impressive because all NCAA schools, regardless of size or ability to give athletic scholarships, compete in the same division. Whitman is the only NCAA Div. III (non-scholarship) school that competes in skiing in the western U.S.

Valaas, a graduate of Wenatchee (Wash.) High School, was one of Whitman’s top finishers during the nordic ski season. She also was named to the seven-member U.S. women’s team that competed at the Under-23 World Cross Country Championships. In late spring, as a member of the women’s club cycling team, Valaas also shared in a national title in the Team Time Trial event at the Collegiate National Championships.

Steven Ly and Katie Patneaude, the freshman class winners, both helped their teams win conference championships in their first seasons at Whitman.

Ly, a graduate of Centennial High School in Gresham, Ore., played No. 1 singles as the men’s tennis team rolled to its first NWC title since 2000. He was one of three Whitman freshmen who earned All-NWC First Team honors. The Missionaries qualified for the NCAA Div. III post-season for the first time in more than a decade and posted a win-loss record of 15-7, which included a 12-1 mark against NWC opponents.

Patneaude, a graduate of Seattle Preparatory School, averaged 11.9 points and 5.8 rebounds as the women’s basketball team surged to a share of the NWC title. She was the only first-year player named to the All-NWC First Team. Playing both guard positions during the season, Patneaude helped the Missionaries finish with a 19-6 record, setting school records for most victories in a season, highest winning percentage, and most consecutive victories.

CONTACT: Dave Holden, Whitman News Service, (509) 527-5902