Central’s Daniels wins top league scholar-athlete honor


PELLA—Three-time NCAA Division III multi-event champion Will Daniels of Central College has received the American Rivers Conference’s Duane Schroeder Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2018-19.

Established in 2002, it’s the league’s highest award, presented to a graduate from the previous academic year. Daniels is the seventh former Central student-athlete to receive the men’s or women’s award. To be eligible for consideration, nominees must have demonstrated a high level of accomplishment and achievement in a varsity sport, have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) and show evidence of scholarly achievements, community service, involvement and leadership.

Daniels, who graduated last spring after just three years at Central with a lofty 3.99 grade point average and a biology major, captured the national indoor heptathlon crown in 2018 and 2019 for the Dutch men’s track and field squad. He then rolled to the NCAA outdoor decathlon title in Geneva, Ohio, compiling the second highest score in Division III history with 7,427 points. He set the national heptathlon record earlier with 5,441 points. He’s among five Central athletes ever to win three national titles. Daniels is a five-time all-America honoree, also finishing third in the 2018 decathlon and seventh in the 2018 indoor high jump. He had nine all-conference performances.

“Will Daniels continued the rich tradition of Central College multi-event athletes while scoring points in many individual events,” said league commissioner Chuck Yrigoyen. “He made all that happen while being a standout student and substantial contributor to his local communities.”
Previously Daniels was tabbed as the 2018-19 Google Cloud Academic All-America of the Year for the Division III Men’s Cross Country/Track and Field team and was a two-time first-team Academic All-America selection. He was also cited as the USTFCCCCA Men’s Indoor Field Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2018 and 2019 and received the outdoor honor in 2019. Daniels was the USTFCCCCA Central Region Field Athlete of the Year for the indoor season in 2018 and 2019 and the outdoor campaign in 2018. He was twice named the organization’s national athlete of the week and was a four-time conference male athlete of the week. He was a Central team captain last spring and a two-time squad MVP.

While at Central, Daniels was also a volunteer at the Pella Regional Health Center’s Family Birthing Center as well as with children’s ministries at Third Reformed Church and as a huddle leader for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp. He was an accomplished pianist as well.

“He has excelled in every academic challenge and received the Senior Biology Award for the highest GPA among biology majors,” said Lee Macomber, assistant professor of biology. “His preparation and forethought made being his advisor a breeze. It is a testament to his capability and responsibility that his academic achievements were accomplished while being an active member of the winter and spring teams.”

The award is named for the late Duane Schroeder, who served as Wartburg College’s sports information director for 43 years and was the conference’s long-time secretary/treasurer.

Daniels is now a graduate student in the master’s program in clinical exercise physiology at the University of Iowa with hopes of eventually enrolling in medical school.

Central College’s Duane Schroeder American Rivers Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year honorees

2003-04 – Raegan Schultz Wagner, volleyball, women’s track and field

2005-06 – Adam Duerfeldt, baseball

2005-06 – Katie Pederon Whipple, volleyball, women’s track and field

2011-12 – Jill Ziskovsky Halcomb, women’s track and field

2013-14 – Kyle Freischlag, men’s tennis

2016-17 – Riley Gray, football

2018-19 – Will Daniels, men’s track and field