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Smith, Ramos earn Trapper awards

Petersen, Lesu named male and female athletes of year

Northwest College basketball players Megan Smith and Chantz Ramos were honored on Tuesday night as the winners of the Trapper Awards for the 2010-2011 academic year. The announcement came during Tuesday’s ceremony recognizing the achievements of the college’s student-athletes over the past year.

“What can I say about him?” Northwest College men’s basketball coach Andy Ward asked rhetorically. “He’s an extremely hard worker. We were fortunate to have him in our program. He does so much more than just compete on the court.”

Ward noted Ramos’ status as an NJCAA academic All-American, as well as his level of activity within his church as among the character traits that made him stand out in the eyes of Northwest College’s various coaches, who vote on the Trapper Award recipients.

“He really impacted our program in a lot of ways,” Ward said. “He was voted a captain for us. Our guys really respect what Chantz is all about and thought he did a tremendous job in a leadership role.”

On the women’s side, Smith was equally lauded for her ability to be a leader off the floor as well as on it.

“She displays the character and academic traits that you want,” said Trapper women’s basketball coach Janis Beal. “She’s very deserving of the honor. It’s fun to have one of our players get that award because it definitely shows what we want a Trapper to be.”

Smith led the Trapper women in points per game, earning recognition within the conference and region for her play.

Beal’s women’s basketball squad was doubly honored with major award recipients on Tuesday night. Sophomore Valerie Lesu, a two-sport athlete at NWC, was named the female athlete of the year.

“Val is well-deserving,” said Beal. “She excelled in two sports. It wasn’t easy for her due to the time commitment to practice and keeping up on academics.”

Lesu not only pulled it off, but did so in impressive fashion. As a sophomore, she was recognized for her defensive play in both volleyball, where she was named the Region IX libero of the year, and in basketball, where she was named to the all-defensive team.

Lesu’s athletic future will lie on the volleyball court. Beal noted Lesu had accepted an offer from the University of Mary, an NCAA Division II program in North Dakota.

On the men’s side, the athlete of the year honor went to a member of the Trappers’ wrestling program for the third consecutive year. For the second of those years, the award was handed to a national champion.

Nick Petersen, who capped a stellar sophomore campaign for head coach Jim Zeigler by winning a national championship at 184 pounds, received the award.  Petersen spent all but the season’s first month sitting atop the national rankings after earning All-American honors as a freshman.

He was also instrumental in helping to keep the Trappers’ wrestling program prominently ranked  throughout the 2010-2011 season. He was one of three NWC grapplers to wrestle for national titles this year.

Petersen plans to head on a mission, but is leaving the door open to returning to the competitive arena for two more years once he returns.

“You couldn’t have had better choices,” Beal said of the male and female athletes of the year winners. “A national champion and someone who excelled in two different sports. What more do you need to say about either of them?”

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