Most Valuable, Most Improved Announced at Winter Sports Awards Ceremony
The Lake Forest College Athletic Department held its annual Winter Sports Awards Ceremony on Sunday, March 25, at the First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest. Among the many awards given out were plaques for each sport's Most Valuable and Most Improved Performers.
Senior post player Travis Clark was selected as the men's basketball team's Most Valuable Player for the third straight season and sophomore guard James Stack earned his second straight Most Improved Player award. Clark was the Midwest Conference Player of the Year and a Second Team All-American after leading the 20-4 Foresters with 18 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. He finished his career as the program's career leader in field goal percentage (.648) and blocked shots (101) and ranks third with 1,493 points and sixth with 804 rebounds. Stack moved into the starting lineup this season and finished third on the squad in scoring at 10.9 points per contest. His .500 (50-for-100) three-point field goal percentage was the highest in the conference.
Junior point guard Sam Schuring was named the Most Valuable Player of the Forester women's basketball team and freshman guard Jenna Rice was selected as the squad's Most Improved Player. Schuring was Lake Forest's top scorer at 12.5 points per game and earned First Team All-MWC honors after ranking second in the league with 3.6 assists and 2.3 steals per contest. She already ranks fourth in program history with 266 career assists. Rice played in all but one of the team's 24 games and made 10 starts. She ranked second on the squad with 24 steals and third with 41 assists.
Junior forward Thomas Bark was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the Forester men's hockey for the second year in a row. Freshman Bobby Barrett was chosen as the team's Most Improved Player. Bark was second on the team with 18 points and led Lake Forest with 14 assists. He even saw action as a defenseman when the team was decimated with injuries at that position late in the season. Barrett did not debut with the team until November 26 and played in 17 of the last 21 games. All seven of his points on the season were recorded during the final eight contests.
Senior defenseman Molly Wallner earned Most Valuable Player honors and freshman defenseman Erin Shamley was named the Most Improved Player of the Forester women's hockey team. Wallner had two goals and three assists and ranked second on the team with a +14 plus/minus rating. She finished her career at +25 with seven goals and 21 assists. Shamley played in all 27 games, scored her first career goal against Finlandia University on December 2, and added a pair of assists.
Junior Becky Shaak and sophomore Garr Punnett were the Forester swimming & diving team's Most Valuable Performers while sophomore Loren Dutca and freshman Mitchell Reiner were named the team's Most Improved Performers. Shaak earned the award for the third time in as many seasons. She helped lead Lake Forest to a MWC title by winning all three of her individual events and swimming on four victorious relay teams at the conference championship meet to earn her second career MWC Women's Swimmer of the Meet award. She also went on to earn All-American honors in the 400-IM. Punnett also prevailed in each of his three individual events at the conference meet, making him the first Forester male to accomplish the feat in a decade. Dutca was the MWC champion in the 1650-freestyle, placed second and third in her other events, and competed on three winning relay teams. Reiner finished second in the league in the men's 1650-freestyle and fourth in the 500-freestyle.
Senior Maria Dugas and junior Isaac Acosta were voted the Forester handball team's Most Valuable Players while freshman Brooke Perkins and junior Justin Novak were the national champions' Most Improved Players. Dugas earned All-America honors after finishing as the Open Singles and Doubles runner-up at the United States Handball Association Collegiate National Championships. Acosta was a semifinalist in Open Singles and (with freshman C.J. Laffey) the Open Doubles champion. Perkins won her first three matches at the national tournament to reach the B Singles round of 16. Novak advanced to the B Singles semifinals on the men's side.
It was a successful winter for the Lake Forest College Athletic Department. In addition to recording a fourth straight sweep of the men's, women's, and combined team titles in the U.S. Handball Collegiate National Championships, the Forester women's swimming & diving team captured its first Midwest Conference championship since 1998 and the men's basketball team finished atop the standings to claim its first league title since 2000. The men's swimming & diving team was the conference's runner-up, the women's basketball and hockey teams reached the semifinals in their respective conference tournaments, and the men's hockey team advanced to the quarterfinals of the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association's playoffs.