CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- A quartet of Mount Mercy student-athletes have been honored for academic and athletic success during the 2016-17 school year. Pedro Velasco and Katie Hoffert were named Dale Harrison Scholar-Athletes of the Year while Ben Struss and Cori Peterzalek were announced as the Don McCormick Athletes of the Year at Saturday's Student Leadership Recognition Ceremony.
Both awards are annually voted upon by athletics department staff. The Dale Harrison Scholar-Athlete of the Year award honors student-athletes who achieve a combination of success in the classroom and in competition. To be eligible for the award, nominees must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.50 and have participated in athletics for at least two years or be in their second year of competition.
The 2017 Harrison award winners are Velasco and Hoffert. Velasco is a senior interdisciplinary management major and an NAIA Scholar-Athlete for men's golf. During the 2016-17 season, he has finished in the top five three times and is the team's third-leading scorer. He has a low round of 69 this year and ranks fourth in school history with a 74.31 scoring average.
Hoffert, a senior biology and chemistry major, is a two-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete in women's cross country. She had three top-10 finishes during the 2016 season, placing second, fourth and seventh. Hoffert earned all-Heart of America Athletic Conference honors while breaking the school record in the 5K and competed at the NAIA Cross Country National Championships for the third year in a row, placing 140th out of 334 competitors.
Other finalists for the Dale Harrison Scholar-Athlete of the Year award were Eric Hansen (men's cross country and men's track & field), McKenna Sexton (women's basketball) and Leslie Hoffmann (women's volleyball).
The Don McCormick Athlete of the Year award goes to a male and female student-athlete who achieved success while participating in intercollegiate athletics. Struss and Peterzalek are the 2017 honorees. Struss, a senior on the men's basketball team, was an NAIA honorable mention all-American and first-team all-Heart of America selection while leading the Mustangs to their third consecutive national tournament. He started all 33 games, averaging a team-best 12.2 pointers per game and was second on the squad in three-point field goals (60), rebounding (5.1 rpg) and blocked shots (25).
Peterzalek, a senior women's volleyball player, garnered first-team all-Heart of America honors for the Mustangs. She played in all 32 matches, leading the team with 441 kills, 3.59 kills per game and 1,302 attacks. Peterzalek was second on the squad in service aces (30) and digs (475), and ranks in the top five in career kills (2nd/1,645) attack attempts (2nd/4,866) and digs (3rd/1,752).
Finalists for the Don McCormick Athlete of the Year award were Nikola Stoimenov (men's volleyball), Strahil Svilenski (men's volleyball), Kevon Farquharson (men's soccer), CJ Parker (men's basketball), Alisa Weiland (women's basketball), Ashley Dolan (women's basketball) and Kathryn Vander Poel (women's cross country and women's track & field).