Hesston College celebrates student achievements

Hesston College celebrates student achievements

Larry Ruffin, 2023-24 Hesston College Lark of the Year

With only a week left until commencement, Hesston College showed their thanks to dedicated students for their outstanding work this year in and out of the classroom. Hesston recognized a group of exceptional students and faculty during the annual LarkFest Awards in the Hesston Mennonite Church sanctuary on Friday, May 3. The athletic department also held their annual banquet in the Bontrager Student Center dining hall on Tuesday, April 30 to reward student athletes for their hard work and success during their seasons and in the classroom.

During LarkFest, students and faculty are awarded for their achievements throughout the year. The top student award—Lark of the Year—went to sophomore Larry Ruffin, Choctaw, Okla., for excellence in leadership, academics and service. Students are nominated for Lark of the Year by the Hesston Experience team and the recipient is chosen by a faculty vote.

At the athletic banquet, coaches had the opportunity to show their appreciation to their athletes with a variety of awards. Among these awards were the Male and Female Student Athlete of the Year awards. This year there was a tie for the male award as Mason White (golf), Rowlett, Texas, and Quez Wright (basketball), Atlanta, Ga., shared the honor, while Kaley Phillips (basketball and flag football), Lake Worth, Fla., took home the female award.

Other student award winners at LarkFest include:

  • Admissions Outstanding Ambassador Award: Ashlynn Davis (Kilgore, Texas), Oscar Becerra (Decatur, Texas), Fernando Guzman (Mexico, Mo.), Michelle Hicks (Bryan, Texas), Ashleigh Williams (Eaton, Colo.)
  • Resident Assistants of the Year: Carson Elonich (Goshen, Ind.), Catryna Winzer (Augusta, Kan.)
  • Peer Educator of the Year: Lauren Payne (Geuda Springs, Kan.)
  • Bill Mason Business Scholars: Santiago Gonzalez (Artesia, N.M.), Luis Jimenez (Dallas, Texas), Cooper Long (Seneca, Mo.)
  • Clayton V. Beyler Award for Bible and Ministry students: Larry Ruffin (Choctaw, Okla.)
  • Daniel Gerber Peace and Service Award: Devin Miller (Hesston, Kan.), Josalyn Wipf (Huron, S.D.), Meg Beyer (Harrisonburg, Va.)
  • Art Department Best of Show Award: Lily Corkill (Olsburg, Kan.)
  • Musician of the Year Award: Joy Jones (Lockhart, Texas), Daniel Miller (Arlington, Kan.)
  • Mariann Martin Theatre Award: Hadassa Friesen (Neuland, Paraguay)
  • The “Standing O” Theatre Award: Josh Fleming (Raymore, Mo.)
  • Yoder/Zaid Chemistry Scholarship: Sydney Jackson (Marlow, Okla.)
  • Nursing Excellence Award: Melvin “Trey” Lasseter III (Valley Center, Kan.), James Peters (Hesston, Kan.), Jayda Spiller (Wichita, Kan.), Madison Thompson (Newton, Kan.)
  • International Student Outstanding Academic Achievement: Akana Nakamura (Hachinohe, Japan), Hadassa Friesen (Neuland, Paraguay)

Hesston College also gave awards to faculty during LarkFest.

  • Rookie Faculty of the Year: Nicole McGee, nursing professor
  • Award for Teaching Excellence: Denise Diller, nursing professor

Photo: 2024 Lark Student-Athletes of the Year Kaley Phillips, Quez Wright and Mason White
2024 Lark Student-Athletes of the Year Kaley Phillips, Quez Wright and Mason White

Other award winners at the athletic banquet include:


  • MVP – Catryna Winzer (Augusta, Kan.)
  • Defensive Player of the Year – Pariss Lloyd (Haysville, Kan.)
  • Freshman Of The Year – Se’Maiya Farrow (Kaiserslautern, Germany)

Men’s Soccer

  • Defensive Player of the Year – Jordi Sandoval (DeLeon Springs, Fla.)
  • Goal of the Year – Fernando Guzman (Mexico, Mo.)
  • Freshman of the year – Oscar Becerra (Decatur, Texas)

Women’s Soccer

  • MVP – Kira Kumada (Hadano, Japan)
  • Team Player Award – Ashleigh Williams (Eaton, Colo.)
  • Most Improved – Fey Castillo (Laredo, Texas)

Cross Country/Track

  • Leadership Award – Nick Win (Wichita, Kan.)
  • Leadership Award – Alice Lovren (McKinney, Texas)
  • Women’s Most Improved – Addalee Parker (Orange County, Calif.)
  • Men’s Most Improved – Josh Osborne (Wichita, Kan.)
  • Most Inspirational – Mark Ruaburo (Lanai City, Hawaii)

Women’s Basketball

  • MVP – Norika Welch (Bando, Japan)
  • Most Improved – Anna McIntire (Lawrence, Kan.)
  • 24/7 Award – Mariah Hall (Lawton, Okla.)

Men’s Basketball

  • Co-MVPs – Quez Wright (Atlanta, Ga.) and Luke McGinnis (Andover, Kan.)
  • Most Improved Player – Montreal Myles (Baton Rouge, La.)
  • Team Player Award – Larry Ruffin (Choctaw, Okla.)

Disc Golf

  • Men’s MVP – Aidan Swartzendruber (Henderson, Neb.)
  • Women’s MVP – Alyssa Burkholder (Goessel, Kan.)
  • Spirit Award – Beck Jantzi (Hesston, Kan.)

Dance Team

  • Leadership Award – Joy Jones (Lockhart, Texas)
  • Rookie of the Year – Meg Beyer (Harrisonburg, Va.)
  • Spirit Award – Josh Fleming (Raymore, Mo.)


  • Defensive MVP – Lauren Payne (Geuda Springs, Kan.)
  • Offensive MVP – Mimi Castillo (Houston, Texas)
  • Leadership Award – Emma Killingsworth (Georgetown, Texas)


  • Most Outstanding Player – Aiden McCullough (Devol, Okla.)
  • Most Outstanding Pitcher – Jarod Fugate (Norman, Okla.)
  • Team Player – Connor Bear (Sequim, Wash.)


  • Best Teammate – Braxton Linden (Sterling, Kan.)
  • Team Einstein – Jacob Fransson (Djursholm, Sweden)
  • Find-A-Way Award – Mitch Jones (Sydney, Australia)

Flag Football

  • MVP – Kaley Phillips (Lake Worth, Fla.)
  • Offensive MVP – Zahleah Beaubrun (Palmetto, Fla.)
  • Defensive MVP – Lili Espinoza (Galva, Kan.)

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