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Celebrating excellence: Two Redbirds honored as superior athletes and scholars

Rachel Root

Rachel Root

Rachel Root ’17 and Wes Ward ’17 were recognized last fall as the top student-athletes at the Reggie’s, the annual Athletics academic excellence awards ceremony sponsored by State Farm Insurance Company.

Root received the Linda Herman Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. Co-captain of the swimming and diving team, she is a speech-language pathology graduate student. She holds the ISU record for three individual swimming events and one relay event.

“I have learned the value of teamwork, developed leadership skills, and improved my communication abilities,” Root said in accepting the award. Her other honors include an individual Scholar All-America Honorable Mention by the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America in 2017.

Wes Ward

Wes Ward

Ward, a walk-on member of the cross country and track and field teams, was named the Doug Collins Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. A finance and political science double major, he expressed gratitude for his Redbird experiences.

“I took the opportunities that Illinois State provided me to pursue my passion and to grow as an athlete, a student, and person,” Ward said. “I was able to forge my own path, to expand my vision of the world, and to discover the importance of a community.”

Ward was a Bone Scholar, which is the most prestigious university-wide honor bestowed on undergraduate students. He was also named an outstanding college student by the Lincoln Academy, which bestowed The Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award in recognition of his extensive community service.

Two others to gain high honors at the Reggie’s were Paris Lee ’17 and Jordan de los Reyes ’17. Lee was named the Milt Weisbecker Male Athlete of the Year. A member of the men’s basketball team, he was the 2017 MVC Larry Bird Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

De los Reyes was named the Jill Hutchison Female Athlete of the Year. She played as catcher with the women’s softball team and received the prestigious MVC Player of the Year award.

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