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Perspective: by Jerry Pyle
Chris Fredrick and the Class of '91
It was a pretty good week for Cobber sports. Defending national champion, Kris Kuehl, broke her school discus record at the Drake Relays. The baseball team fought back in their title race by winning four games. The softball team capped the season by winning six of their last eight games. Chris Fredrick added another school record to her list of running accomplishments. Senior tackle Mike Gindorff signed a contract to play professional football in the NFL. And the campus began looking forward to this Sunday's graduation rites.
A lot of fine women and men will graduate here Sunday, many of whom were varsity athletes while at Concordia. Like Fredrick and Gindorff, most of our athletes graduating this week have done so in four years. And nearly all have grown immearsurably in the process, acquitting themselves and us with distinction.
The class of 1991 is special. They mark the end of our first century of education at Concordia. They will be surveyed this weekend for signs of what we have become and what we hold dear. Such a survey should give us comfort.
From our little corner of the campus, here in the fieldhouse, we look on the class of 1991 as a wonderful group of students, athletes, and friends. We will miss them dearly.
A listing of the outstanding athletes in this class risks overlooking others who are deserving. But it gives us a brief reminder of the memories they have shared with us.
Gindorff, fellow all-American Shayne Lindsay, and quarterback Chad Walthall led a large and successful class of football seniors to their second MIAC title in three years. Pete Byorth, Jamie Hagness, Mike Grady, Tim Uglem and Kelly Myers joined them on the all-conference team.
Sara Pittorf and Kris Olson capped brilliant careers by leading the women's soccer team from the depths of mediocrity to a national ranking.
All-MIAC seniors Mari Stewart and Amy Walstad formed the heart of a winning volleyball team.
All-American Michelle Thykeson, along with her front-line mates, Rhonda Schneekloth and Kim Fierke, left a basketball record of 98 wins and 18 losses over their four years, and a national championship by which they'll be remembered.
The senior hockey trio of Mike Hassman, John Town, and Shawn McGurran are taking their dazzling skating and scoring skills to other arenas, safe in the knowledge that their records will not soon be broken.
Eric Gardner, Mike Hilley, and Tim Boudreaux pointed the way to men's basketball excellence, playing their best at the their careers' end.
All-American Chip Halverson and fellow captain Kirk Leinwand posted outstanding won-lost records in their tenures on the wrestling team.
The talented softball pitching staff of Laurie Heeler, Sue Kalpin, and Christy Slinkard will pick up their degrees this week.
Baseball's Bucky Burgau is coaching the final games of five gifted seniors, Brad Baker, Jason Tibbits, Brad Shelstad, Troy Olson and Scott Englemann.
And then there are Marion Strand's top senior women distance runners, a quintet of student-athletes who most clearly personify our institutional aspirations.
When Concordia's second centennial rolls around, it would be nice if the elders of that time would remember us all as having the talent and values of this effervescent group of women.
Chris Fredrick, Molly Weyrens, Sharon Espeland, Peggy Savanick and Chris Godfrey teamed up to win the MIAC cross country title last fall and then earned a 9th-place finish at the NCAA's Division III National Championship. Fredrick, Weyrens, Espeland and Savanick all finished in the top ten at the MIAC Meet. NCAA Division III honored this outfit for having the highest GPA of any team in the nation, a cumulative 3.64.
Fredrick, Weyrens, Espeland, and Godfrey went on to have solid indoor and outdoor track seasons for the fourth year in a row.
Weyrens has been designated as one of Sunday's graduation speakers. She will represent this group well, and speak for all of us.
And at the head of this year's graduating class of student-athletes will be Chris Fredrick. As a student, Chris put together a 3.80 GPA as an English writing major. She'll graduate Suma Cum Laude. She edits of an impressive student literary publication, After Work, has served as the secretary of the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and was the vice president of ODK, a campus leadership society.
As an athlete, Chris has combined her graceful stride and endless hours of training to build a spectacular record of achievement. She was the league's medalist last fall in cross country and her all-America performance at Nationals led the Cobbers. Fredrick has set at least eight school records in various distance events in track. She was twice all conference in cross country, four times all-conference in indoor track, three times all-conference in outdoor track, and three times an all-American in track. So far. She has her last MIAC meet coming up next week. Chris has earned the prestigious Academic All-MIAC award four times.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, Chris is strong, confident, gracious, and concerned for others. I could go on, but it would get pretty gushy.
Those who founded this institution in 1891 might not have had a woman athlete in mind when they imagined their role-model graduates of the future. But Chris is clearly a role-model.
Chris Fredrick is a wonderful testament to the empowering capability of a values-oriented liberal arts education.
May the class of 2091 be blessed with as much talent and character as this class of 1991.
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