WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Jennie Wood, a soccer player who switched gears as a senior to qualify for the NCAA Div. III national championships in cross country running, has received the 2001 Mignon Borleske Trophy, which is given annually to the most outstanding female student-athlete.
The trophy, which is awarded by a vote of the Whitman coaching staff, recognizes athletic ability and accomplishments, leadership and sportsmanship qualities, and contributions the campus as a whole.
Wood, a foreign languages & literature (Spanish) major from Salem, Ore., didn't miss a step in her senior-year transition from varsity soccer to cross country running. Competing in only her second collegiate race last fall, Wood won the Whitman Invitational, outrunning her nearest competitor by nearly six seconds.
As the fall season progressed, Wood also won the Warrior Island Invitational and finished among the leaders in large meets hosted by the universities of Washington and Idaho. She placed fourth at the Northwest Conference (NWC) championships, earning all-conference honors and leading the Whitman women to a second-place finish in the team scoring. Two weeks later, Wood placed seventh among 104 runners at the NCAA Div. III West Region meet, becoming the first-ever Missionary woman to qualify for the national championships.
She capped her season by placing 72nd in a huge field of 211 runners at nationals.
Wood approached her first and only cross country season with cautious optimism and quiet determination, Whitman cross country coach Carol Feezell said. "Jennie had high hopes for herself, but she also realized she could learn a lot from the veterans on the team. She gained confidence with each successful race, and yet she remained a loyal and devoted team member throughout the season."
Wood's work ethic and positive attitude were welcome additions, Feezell added. "She was highly respected by the rest of the team, and she proved to be an excellent role model for the younger runners. Jennie was only with us for one season, but because of the example she set, I think her impact will be felt for many years."
The cross country program's gain this past season was the soccer program's loss, soccer coach Scott Shields said. "Jennie had been a three-year starter for us, and she was one of our team leaders on the field. Her work ethic was the best. We definitely missed her, but we were rooting for her throughout the cross country season. Jennie is an awesome athlete."
Wood, a 1997 graduate of South Salem High School, is the daughter of Patricia and Tim Wood of Salem, Ore.
Dave Holden, Whitman Sports Information, 509 527-5902