Valparaiso University’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) announced its year-end awards on Wednesday evening at the second annual Athletic Recognition Ceremony (ARC) Awards.
Men’s track and field athlete Jarrett Mickens (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley) was named the Male Athlete of the Year while Crusader women’s soccer player Jackie Kondratko (Granger, Ind./Penn) was named Female Athlete of the Year. Men’s soccer player Stefan Antonijevic (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson [College of Lake County/Marquette]) was voted Male Newcomer of the Year and volleyball player Taylor Root (Jenison, Mich./Jenison) earned Female Newcomer of the Year honors.
Mickens twice earned Horizon League Male Field Athlete of the Week honors during a track season which saw him finish second in the triple jump and fifth in the long jump at the league’s indoor championships prior to placing fourth and second, respectively, in the same events at the outdoor championships. The junior also moved into second in Valpo history indoors in the triple jump and into second position in both jumps outdoors.
Kondratko was named an ESPN the Magazine First Team Academic All-American after a senior season where she helped lead the Crusaders to a third-place regular season finish and a berth in the Horizon League championship match. She tied for team-high honors with seven goals, tied for third in the league, and tallied 18 points, which ranked fourth league-wide. She also accounted for the second-most match winning goals among league players with four, matching Valpo’s single-season record in the category.
Antonijevic earned a spot on the All-League Second Team in his first year as a Crusader after averaging better than 76 minutes per match in the midfield. He scored a pair of goals, including the match-winner at Bowling Green, and also chipped in an assist. Root was named the league’s Newcomer of the Year and also earned a spot on the All-League Team, leading the league with 5.05 digs/set, good for 29th nationally. She ended the year fifth in Valpo single-season history with 586 digs, was twice named the league’s Defensive Player of the Week and earned spots on three All-Tournament squads.
In addition, soccer’s Wei Ming Wong (Hong Kong/Hong Kong International [SMU]) was the recipient of the Bill Steinbrecher Sportsmanship Award and Kondratko received the Rebecca D. Carter Memorial Award given to the male and female student-athletes who have exhibited a high degree of sportsmanship throughout the school year.
The awards were voted on by SAAC, which has representatives from all 21 of Valparaiso’s athletic teams. In addition, each Crusader team had a team award presented at Wednesday night’s awards ceremony.