University of Redlands track & field standouts graduate student Fritz Nugent (Tinley Park, IL) and Natalie Calderon ’08 (Pasadena, CA) were named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Field Scholar-Athletes of the Year.
In addition, freshman Mackenzie Smith (Hoquiam, WA), sophomore Jake Baechle (Aurora, OH) and sophomore Richard Valenti (Palm Desert, CA) joined them as members of the 2008 USTFCCCA Division III All-Academic Track & Field Team. To earn a spot on this team, the student-athlete must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 and earned at least one provisional or automatic qualifying mark in his/her respective event.
Boasting a cumulative GPA of 3.957 in graduate school, Nugent earned the male field scholar-athlete of the year award based on his success both in the classroom and in competition. He captured a gold medal at the 2008 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the Long Jump. Currently, he is pursuing his Master of Arts in Higher Education at Redlands.
“Fritz is a true ‘Renaissance Man,’ being able to balance excellence in many different facets of track & field and in life,” Head Coach Mike Schmidt said.
Calderon won the women’s field scholar-athlete of the year award after accumulating a 3.797 cumulative GPA as a Communicative Disorders major. She led the Bulldogs to their first women’s track & field conference championship since 1978 and won both the Long Jump and the Triple Jump at the 2008 NCAA Championships.
“Natalie is a true student-athlete who has shown an amazing ability to balance academics, athletics and community service,” Schmidt said.
With a 3.737 cumulative GPA, Smith supplied a standout freshman season, placing sixth at the NCAA Championships in the Javelin Throw with a mark of 138′ 8″. She earned All-American honors and placed third all-time in program history with her performance.
Baechle and Valenti join Nugent on the men’s side as members of the 2008 USTFCCCA Division III All-Academic Track & Field Team. As a Business major, Baechle put together a 3.393 cumulative GPA to compliment his breakout year in the 800m Run. He qualified for the NCAA Championships with a time of 1:51.76 and also ran on a 4x400m Relay team that provisionally qualified for the national meet. Valenti boasts a 3.457 cumulative GPA and qualified for the NCAA Championships in the Hammer Throw where he threw for a distance of 157′ 0″.