Five seniors receive honors at annual year-end athletics banquet

NORTON, MA- The Wheaton College Department of Athletics held its annual awards ceremony at Emerson Dining Hall on Tuesday night, when seniors representing three different programs earned the department's five major awards. All drew end-of-the-year honors for the first time.

Sarah Houlihan (West Springfield, MA/West Springfield) and Howard Powell (Brooklyn, NY/Boys and Girls) were lauded with the Dean Sue Alexander Senior Athlete Awards, Merzudin Ibric (Revere, MA/Phillips Academy) was named Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year, and Andrea Bailey (Needham, MA/Needham) earned the Debi Field Athlete Award as the school's top female athlete. Stephanie Michals (Fairfax, VA/Saint Stephen's & Saint Agnes School) drew the Claudia Friese Special Recognition Award, which honors behind-the-scenes dedication to the athletic program.

The senior athlete awards, which were renamed in 2008 to acknowledge former Dean of Students Sue Alexander and her 21 years of support to Wheaton athletics, are presented to a male and female member of the graduating class who has made a significant contribution to the success of the Wheaton athletic program, including participating in intercollegiate athletics or intramural programs, displaying leadership ability, and providing commitment and relevant committee work.

A captain of the women's swimming & diving team, Houlihan will graduate with a pair of school records to her name after helping the Lyons place a program-high third at each of the past three New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championships. A two-year member of the Wheaton Athletic Mentors (WAMs), Houlihan served as co-president this year, when the organization raised more than $800 for Haitian relief efforts. She was also the chair of the 2010 Wheaton Leadership Recognition Ceremony (LRC) committee.

Powell has twice captained the men's track & field team, set a pair of school records, earned two all-conference finishes and drew a 2008 All-America honor. Powell has also been a resident adviser (RA) since his sophomore year, serving as a senior RA this year, and was on the committee last year that sought a new dean of students. In addition to providing support for numerous departments on campus, including as an office assistant in the Office of Admission and as a research assistant in the psychology lab, Powell is a member of the Black Student Association and United Men of Color organizations.

Ibric is also currently serving his second year as a captain of the men's track & field team, as he earned All-America finishes in both the 400-meter dash and 4x400M relay this past winter while helping the Lyons tie for ninth at the indoor NCAA Championship. Last weekend, he earned all-conference accolades in a trio of events at the NEWMAC Championship. For his career, Ibric has qualified eight times for all-conference accolades and three times for All-America honors, and he has his name on three school records while having earned a national academic award each of the past two years. An anti-genocide activist who fled a war-torn Bosnia in the late 1990s, Ibric is one of 23 athletes from Divisions I, II and III featured in an exhibit at the NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The women's basketball team's starting point guard the past three seasons and a captain this winter, Bailey finished second in Division III in both assists (168) and helpers per game (6.2), setting a program mark in both single-season and career (500) assists. By also averaging 9.3 points and 5.6 rebounds, Bailey was one of only two players in all of NCAA Division I, II and III women's basketball to average at least 9.0 points, 6.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds. In addition to landing on the NEWMAC All-Conference first team, Bailey was selected to play in the New England Women's Basketball Association (NEWBA) Senior All-Star Classic.

Michals was an integral role player both with the women's basketball team and in the athletic department during her four years. A member of the game management staff for four years, she served as a department intern as a senior after previously working in sports information. Michals has been a WAM for the past three years and assisted in the preparation of this year's Wheaton-hosted NEWMAC men's swimming & diving championship and baseball tournament. This winter, she capped an 82-game hoops career by averaging career highs in scoring and rebounding. She will begin a career in athletic administration next year as the Assistant Director of Athletics and an assistant girls' basketball coach at Kent Denver School in Englewood, Colorado.

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