SEWARD, Neb. – Ceron Francisco of the wrestling program and Mary Janovich of the women’s basketball program have been declared the 2017-18 Concordia Senior Athletes of the Year, as announced on Tuesday (June 19). Francisco is the Concordia Senior Male Athlete of the Year and Janovich takes the title of Concordia Senior Female Athlete of the Year based upon a vote by athletic department staff members. Senior athletes of the year are selected based upon the athletic department vision components of Christian character, academic achievement and competitive greatness.
Said Director of Athletics Devin Smith, “Ceron and Mary have been great ambassadors of Concordia Athletics. These exceptional student-athletes exemplify positive character traits in terms of leadership, citizenship, commitment and work ethic that fully exhibit the ideals and core values of our university and athletic department. They are the epitome of competitors who have influenced their coaches, teammates, peers and opponents in a positive manner.”
Originally from Fayetteville, N.C., Francisco completed his athletic eligibility in 2017. He then finished his degree in special education during the fall semester of 2017, thus making him a candidate for the 2017-18 senior athlete of the year award. Francisco departed from Concordia as arguably the greatest wrestler in program history. He racked up exactly 100 career victories and finished 2017 as the NAIA heavyweight national runner up. His senior year was nearly impeccable. Francisco went 26-2, earned the GPAC Wrestler of the Year award and won the GPAC heavyweight title for the second year in a row.
An inexperienced wrestler upon his arrival in Seward, Francisco developed quickly under former head coach Dana Vote and qualified for the national championships three times. He surprised some observers by earning a sixth-place All-America finish as wild card national qualifier in 2015. In addition to his two All-America awards, Francisco took home first team All-GPAC honors three times and played a large role in the rise to power of a program that enjoyed GPAC championship seasons in each of Francisco’s final three years on the mat. He has continued his wrestling career as a resident athlete at the University of Virginia and has already begun scrapping in international competitions.
Levi Calhoun, current head wrestling coach, served as an assistant coach during Francisco’s junior and senior campaigns. Said Calhoun, “Ceron was a perfect example of what you look for in a student-athlete. He worked hard in the classroom and on the mat and displayed exemplary Christian character in all aspects of his life. He left a lasting impact on our program and this university. We are extremely proud to call Ceron a Bulldog Wrestling alum and are excited to follow his success as he chases his World and Olympic dreams.”
Janovich becomes the fifth women’s basketball player to win a Senior Athlete of the Year award during head coach Drew Olson’s tenure, which began in 2006. Janovich starred during the winningest four-year stretch in the history of the program. In each of her three appearances at the national tournament, the Gretna, Neb., native led the Bulldogs to at least the semifinals each round. She is the only player in school history to appear in two national championship games. Since Janovich began her Concordia career, the program has gone a combined 127-18 with five GPAC championships (three tournament titles and two regular-season championships) and four national tournament trips.
A pain for opposing backcourts to deal with, Janovich was named the 2016-17 GPAC Defensive Player of the Year, the 2014-15 GPAC Freshman of the Year and a 2016-17 NAIA honorable mention All-American. Janovich found her way on the all-conference honor list all four years, picking up first team accolades once and second team recognition three times. She joined the program’s 1,000-point club as a senior and finished her career with 1,159 points, 337 rebounds, 281 assists and 244 steals in 117 games played. She also posted shooting percentages of 52.2 from the field, 41.6 from 3-point range and 80.9 from the free throw line. Additionally, Janovich earned one NAIA National Player of the Week award. A pre-occupational therapy student, Janovich graduated with degrees in biology, psychology and Spanish.
Said Olson, “Mary is one of the fiercest competitors I have had the privilege to coach. She was driven to win and was a part of the most successful four-year stretch in program history. She was a phenomenal athlete with great skill that made her a threat on both ends of the floor. Mary was also really fun to coach. She had a fun personality that people are drawn to. She balanced the serious focus with the fun goofiness really well. I still want pay her back for that water cup on my seat.”
Francisco and Janovich will be honored as part of the 2018 Hall of Fame induction ceremony that will take place Sept. 21. As Senior Athletes of the Year, Francisco and Janovich will automatically be included in the pool of Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame candidates beginning in the year 2023.
Concordia Male Senior Athletes of the Year (since 2000)
2017-18: Ceron Francisco, Wrestling
2016-17: Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
2015-16: Josh Slechta, Football / Track & Field
2014-15: Enrique Barajas, Wrestling; Von Thomas, Football
2013-14: Ben Hinckfoot, Track & Field
2012-13: Colin Morrissey, Cross Country / Track & Field
2011-12: Zak Goodrich, Baseball
2010-11: Dana Schmidt, Cross Country / Track & Field
2009-10: Zach Meineke, Cross Country / Track & Field
2008-09: Michael Saalfeld, Track & Field
2007-08: JaMaine Lewis, Football
2006-07: Jon Ziegler, Basketball
2005-06: Andrew Walquist, Cross Country / Track & Field
2004-05: Jason Jisa, Basketball
2003-04: Rick Dietz, Basketball
2002-03: Drew Olson, Basketball / Tennis
2001-02: TJ Kloster, Track & Field; Jarrod Pimentel, Baseball / Football
2000-01: Quinton Furr, Track & Field
Concordia Female Senior Athletes of the Year (since 2000)
2017-18: Mary Janovich, Basketball
2016-17: Amy Ahlers, Golf / Kali Robb, Track & Field
2015-16: Liz King, Track & Field
2014-15: Bailey Morris, Basketball
2013-14: Sarah Kortze, Cross Country / Track & Field
2012-13: Katie Rich, Basketball / Track & Field
2011-12: Amber Kistler, Basketball
2010-11: Beth Sutton, Track & Field
2009-10: Charista Zehnder, Track & Field
2008-09: Whitney Stichka, Basketball
2007-08: Katie Werner, Volleyball / Track & Field
2006-07: Gentri Brown, Soccer
2005-06: Jennifer Davis, Soccer / Softball
2004-05: Molly Engel, Cross Country / Track & Field; Kari Saving, Basketball
2003-04: Stephanie Beberniss, Track & Field
2002-03: Sara Schuelke, Cross Country / Track & Field
2001-02: Rachel Kirchner, Volleyball / Basketball
2000-01: Rachael Geidel, Cross Country / Track & Field