David Lilly and Jenny Strom Named Gustavus Student-Athletes Of The Year

Posted on June 7th, 2015 by

SAINT PETER, MINN. – Gustavus Adolphus senior soccer player David Lilly (Maple Grove, Minn.) and senior swimmer Jenny Strom (Rochester, Minn.) have been named the 2014-15 Gustavus Student Athletes-of-the-Year. The awards, which were voted on by the Gustavus head coaches and the Gustavus Sports Information Department, were announced last Friday and cap the 2014-15 academic year for Gustavus Athletics.

A total of eight males and 14 females were on this year’s ballot. Head coaches for each sport, along with members of the sports information department, voted for their top three athletes on both the men’s and women’s sides, awarding five points for a first place vote, three points for second place and one point for third. Following Lilly on the men’s side was men’s tennis player Motasem ALhouni (Sr., Tripoli, Libya) in second place. Swimmer Zac Solis (Sr., Centennial, Colo.) and football player Mitch Hendricks (Jr., Bemidji, Minn.) tied for third on the men’s ballot. Following Strom on the women’s ballot was track and field thrower Elizabeth Weiers (Sr., Le Center, Minn.) in second place and swimmer Katie Olson (Sr., North Oaks, Minn.) in third.

Lilly, a midfielder for head coach Mike Middleton’s squad, played in 79-of-80 collegiate games and with 11 assists in 2014-15, moved into second place on Gustavus’ career assists record board. With 29 career dimes (47 points with nine goals), only Larry Shelhamer ’76 sits ahead of Lilly on the assists chart with 38 from 1972-1975. Lilly is also the first Gustavus player to reach 20 career assists since Peter Eklund ’97 did so in 1997.

“This is a wonderful accolade for David to receive and caps a fantastic year and great career here at Gustavus,” said Middleton. “And it could not happen to a nicer lad.  All of David’s success has been thoroughly deserved. Those who have seen him play, saw his silky smooth skills dominate in midfield against nearly every team we played against. His partnership this season with Charlie Adams produced some magical soccer. So clever in possession, so good in tight spaces…David was able to take the games by the scruff of the neck and command the whole game.  At times he has been simply majestic, a virtuoso performer at the top of his game. He’s also lead the team with his drive, his intelligence, academic performances and his strength of character. Our entire team is very proud of him.”

Lilly and Strom pose for a picture following Gustavus commencement this past Sunday.

Lilly and Strom pose for a picture following Gustavus commencement this past Sunday.

“As a teammate of David over the past four years, and an opponent of him for many years before that, I’ve witnessed firsthand how David has always been the leader of his team,” said Lilly’s teammate Brett Ylonen (Sr., Lake Elmo, Minn.). “His passion and dedication to the sport is unmatched, and his knowledge of the game is years beyond my own. Our team has done very well since he’s been on it, and his dominant control of the midfield has been one of the reasons we have been so successful.”

“David was a great teammate because he pushed each and every one of his teammates to be better at practice and on game days,” added Ylonen. “He did so by setting an example of excellence, and simply challenged us to match his quality and pace.  He was also a great teammate off the field, organizing team meetings, getting all of his teammates to practice on time, and participating in offseason workouts. He has a passion and a love for the game that I have never seen in any other player that I have played with.  He never set his sites on personal achievements, but rather how well his teams could perform, and how his abilities could best serve the team…he was only ever concerned about how he could make the team even better. As a goalkeeper, it is very reassuring to see someone with Davids skills right in front of your defensive wall, who can mop up anything that is spilled at the top of my box.”

Strom, arguably the greatest breaststroke swimmer in Gustavus history, was named the 2014-15 MIAC Swimmer-of-the-Year after claiming five MIAC Championships (three individual, two relay) and a total of six All-Conference accolades. The Rochester native won the 100 breaststroke for the fourth straight season, the 100 breaststroke for the third straight season in MIAC-record-breaking fashion, and won the 500 free title for the second straight season. Strom also helped the 800-free and 400-medley relay teams to a pair of golds at the conference meet. At the NCAA Championships in Shenadoah, Texas, Strom earned All-America status in the 200-medley relay, and Honorable Mention All-America marks in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, and 400-medley relay. She was also named a CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree.

“What Jenny did in her senior year was a product of a lot of hard work and dedication,” said head coach Jon Carlson. “Many swimmers swim hard during the season. Jenny swam and trained hard every day of the year. The greatest compliment that I can give Jenny is that she was not the best swimmer on our team her freshman year, but she made herself one of the best in program history by the time her career was finished. She had the rare ability to focus on what she wanted to do at the end of the season while training at practice in October, or even in July and that is a special gift. Jenny also cared deeply about her teammates and I think this was reflected in her performances in the relays. She found another gear whenever she had the chance to race and impact her teammates. She also showed her love for her teammates with her consistent effort and example at practice day in and day out.”

“Jenny is the hardest worker and most competitive athlete that I know,” added Strom’s teammate Dani Klunk (Sr., Appleton, Wis.). “She was driven everyday at practice to work hard and make herself better, which showed over and over again with her performances at meets throughout the season. There are very few people who can set their goals extremely high and have the perseverance to constantly push themselves in order to reach them, and that is something that Jenny was able to accomplish during her career. On top of her work ethic, she was always supporting and motivating everyone else on the team. She found the balance between working hard and goofing off, which makes her one of the best teammates that I’ve ever had. I was lucky enough to room with her at nationals the past two years and regardless of how she swam, she could still make me laugh and smile. Also, swimmers love to eat and Jenny is No. 1 at that too.”

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