Two athletes, one coach claim inaugural 2021-22 Sandburg Athletics Awards
GALESBURG — The inaugural Carl Sandburg College Athletics award winners for 2021-22 include an all-region and all-conference recipient, a record-setting All-American and a coach who delivered the most successful season in his team’s history.
Softball shortstop Emma Wolfe was selected as the Chargers’ Women’s Athlete of the Year, while men’s cross country runner Calton Kibet (Kenya/Poiwek Secondary) was chosen as Men’s Athlete of the Year and recently retired men’s soccer coach Kevwe Akpore won for Coach of the Year. Athlete of the Year choices were made by staff members who work closely with Sandburg Athletics, and Akpore was voted by his peers as Coach of the Year.
WOMEN’S ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
EMMA WOLFE (SOFTBALL)
A member of the All-Arrowhead Conference team and a First-Team All-Region IV Division II District B selection, Wolfe paced the Chargers in nearly every offensive category during her sophomore season. She played in all 44 of Sandburg's games this spring and put up a .401 batting average, .426 on-base percentage and .796 slugging percentage for a 1.222 OPS over 162 plate appearances, leading the team in each of those marks.
Wolfe also topped the team in hits (61), doubles (15), triples (nine), home runs (nine), runs (54), extra-base hits (33) and total bases (121). Her 37 RBIs were second among Chargers, and she was third on the squad with eight walks and five steals (in six attempts).
Against conference opponents, Wolfe played in all 20 Arrowhead games and led Sandburg in average (.462), OPB (.481), slugging (.949), OPS (1.430), home runs (six), and runs (31). She also had team-highs of 36 hits, six triples, 20 extra-base hits and 74 total bases. Wolfe hit safely in 18 of Sandburg's conference games, including the final 17 in a row. She had 12 multi-hit games against Arrowhead opponents, six three-hit efforts and a 4-for-4 performance on April 21 at Sauk Valley.
MEN’S ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
CALTON KIBET (CROSS COUNTRY)
As a freshman, Kibet put together the most successful season in the history of Sandburg cross country, winning the Region IV title and finishing fourth at the NJCAA Division II Championship to take home All-America honors.
Kibet was named the NJCAA Division II Men’s Runner of the Week for Sept. 8 after helping the Chargers to a dual meet victory at Western Illinois in what’s believed to be the first time a Sandburg team defeated a Division I opponent in head-to-head competition. In his next race, Kibet broke the 8-kilometer school record at the St. Ambrose Fighting Bee Invitational with a time of 26:45.2.
Kibet broke the school record again with a mark of 24:51 as he won the Region IV individual title and helped lead the Chargers to their first region championship in program history. He went on to finish fourth at nationals, giving Sandburg cross country its first-ever First-Team All-American and helping the Chargers to a program-best sixth-place finish.
COACH OF THE YEAR
KEVWE AKPORE (MEN’S SOCCER)
Akpore closed out his tenure as Chargers men’s soccer coach by guiding the team to a historic season that included a school-record 16 victories and its first-ever appearance at the NJCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship.
In addition to that, Sandburg ended the season ranked No. 12 in NJCAA Division II, appeared in the national rankings each week, climbed as high as No. 7 on a pair of occasions (its best mark ever), won the first Region IV title in program history and claimed the inaugural Arrowhead Conference championship. The Chargers won their opening match at nationals before losing an elimination game in pool play 1-0 to eventual national runner-up CCBC Essex.
Following the season, Akpore announced his retirement as the team’s coach, leaving with a school-record 34 victories in 4½ years leading the program.