UPLAND, Ind. – Josh DeGraaf and Alex Berends were recognized on Monday as the top male and female student-athletes of the year at Taylor University. The duo was honored during TU's annual Honors Chapel.
DeGraaf was selected at Taylor's top male student-athlete during the 2014-2015 year, repeating as the Gates-Howard Award winner after being named the Crossroads League Pitcher of the Year for the third-straight season and helping the Trojans to a 32-21 mark on the diamond.
DeGraaf, who boasts a 3.92 cumulative grade-point average in psychology, is a likely three-time Capital One Academic All-America selection. The Morris, Illinois native went 8-2 with 81 strikeouts during his senior season and led all Crossroads League pitchers with at least 50 innings by posting a 1.80 earned-run average on the mound for Taylor in 2015.
Berends was named the 2015 Natalie Steele Award winner as TU's top female student-athlete during the 2014-2015 year. The freshman already owns three NAIA All-American honors, a pair of Crossroads League Championships and four school records before even completing her first full year of cross country and track and field.
Berends, who has an unblemished 4.0 grade-point average, won four-of-five races during the cross country regular season, posting a remarkable individual win-loss record of 1,047-2. The Hudsonville, Michigan native was the highest finishing freshman at NAIA Nationals, became Taylor's first cross country All-American since 2006 and has been named the Crossroads League Runner of the Week and total of seven times during the 2014-2015 year.