HARTFORD CITY, Ind. – The Crossroads League recently announced its 2014-2015 awards, naming Taylor University's cross country and track freshman phenom, Alex Berends, as the 2014-2015 Crossroads League Female Athlete of the Year.
Berends claimed the prestigious honor from among approximately 1,400 female student-athletes competing in sports sponsored by the Crossroads League. The honor is voted on and awarded by the league's athletics directors.
"Alex Berends is an excellent choice for Crossroads League Female Student-Athlete of the Year," stated departing Crossroads League Commissioner, J.D. Collins. "Her performance in cross country and track was unbelievable. For a freshman to shine the way she did is very impressive. Alex has a great career ahead of her and I am so pleased to acknowledge her excellence on and off the course and track."
Quinn White, fifth-year head women's cross country coach at Taylor University, echoed those thoughts by adding, "Alex has had an outstanding freshman year. She strives to maximize her talent of running and she does it all to honor Christ. She molds the big things such as hard work, mental toughness and perseverance with the little things to help her be at her best."
Berends was dominant from the opening race and closed her freshman season as a four-time NAIA All-American, a three-time All-Crossroads League performer and a two-time Crossroads League Individual Champion. The Hudsonville, Michigan native broke four Taylor University program records, qualified for NAIA Nationals in six events and was named the Crossroads League Runner of the Week a total of seven times over the course the cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field seasons.
Other highlights for Berends included a remarkable individual win-loss record of 1,047-2 during the cross country regular season in which the rookie won four-of-five races, claimed five-of-six overall Crossroads League Runner-of-the-Week awards and one NAIA National Runner-of-the-Week honor. Berends became TU's first NAIA All-American in cross country since 2006 and was the top freshman finisher at the NAIA Cross Country National Championships, with an 11th-place overall finish.
Berends excelled in the classroom as well, sporting a 4.0 grade-point average en route to also being selected for the Natalie Steele Award as TU's top female student-athlete during 2014-2015.
"Alex runs with peace, joy and humility," concluded White. "She is a wonderful teammate and pleasure to coach. Not only is Alex a wonderful runner but she also excels academically and musically. She is simply a well-rounded young lady with so much to offer on and off the course and track."