Clockwise from top left: EMU student-athletes Jowell Gonzalez-Santiago and Angel David earned Freshman Athlete of the Year awards, Bellamy Immanuel and Ray Ray Taylor were recognized as Athletes of the Year, and Ariel Morales Bonilla and Megan Miller were named President's Award winners. (Photos courtesy of DBE Photography)

EMU recognizes athletes of the year

EMU Athletics recently held its annual year-end awards ceremony to celebrate its student-athletes and their accomplishments over the past academic year. The ceremony recognized the recipients of the Royals Freshman Athlete of the Year Award, the Royals Athlete of the Year Award and the President’s Award.

Royals Freshman Athlete of the Year

Male Freshman Athlete of the Year: Jowell Gonzalez-Santiago (Track & Field)

A first-year athlete from Broadway, Virginia, Gonzalez-Santiago achieved not only EMU all-time marks, but also garnered regional and national recognition.

Most notably, Gonzalez-Santiago broke the school record in the 500m with a blazing-fast time of 1:04.86, which is also the 20th-fastest indoor 500m in NCAA Division III history. Gonzalez-Santiago had the following EMU All-Time Top 10 performances during the indoor season: third in 200m, third in 400m, and ninth in long jump. Gonzalez-Santiago’s 400m time of 49.06 was the fastest in the ODAC during indoor season, and he was named USTFCCCA (U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association) All-South Region indoors for the 400m.

Female Freshman Athlete of the Year: Angel David (Track & Field)

David, a first-year athlete from Richmond, Virginia, made an instant impact on the EMU Women’s Track & Field program.

Her name is on the EMU All-Time Top 10 lists for four indoor events and three outdoor events. She is second in school history in the indoor 300m, sixth in the indoor long jump, and fifth in the indoor triple jump. At the ODAC Indoor Track & Field Championships in February, David finished fourth overall in the triple jump, just one spot shy of an All-ODAC recognition as a first-year.

David’s indoor success carried over to the spring outdoor season, during which she rose to fourth in EMU history in the outdoor triple jump, sixth in the 400m hurdles, seventh in the outdoor long jump, and ninth in the outdoor 200m. At the ODAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships in April, David scored points for the Royals in two events, placing seventh in the 400m hurdles and eighth in the triple jump.

Royals Athlete of the Year

Male Athlete of the Year: Bellamy Immanuel (Cross Country/Track & Field)

Immanuel had a breakthrough 2023-24 campaign on the cross country trails as well as on the track.

In cross country, Immanuel, a junior from Allentown, Pennsylvania, ran the third-fastest 8K in EMU history, clocking in at 25:11.7. Immanuel continued to race at a high level into the postseason, placing seventh at the ODAC Championships to achieve First Team All-ODAC status, followed by a 17th-place showing at the NCAA DIII South Region Championships. The latter performance by Immanuel earned him a spot at the NCAA DIII Cross Country Championships.

In track & field, Immanuel set the school record for the indoor 5000m, completing 25 laps of the 200m indoor track in a time of 15:09.89. Moving outdoors for the spring season, Immanuel ran the second-fastest times in EMU history for both the 3000m steeplechase and the 5000m. Immanuel’s 3000m steeplechase time came in a runner-up showing at the ODAC Championships in April.  Immanuel also became just the seventh runner in EMU history to break the sub-four-minute barrier in the 1500m, running a personal best of 3:57.64 at the ODAC Championships. 

Female Athlete of the Year: Ray Ray Taylor (Track & Field)

Taylor followed up an All-American performance in 2023 by continuing to rewrite the EMU record books and make noise at the ODAC and NCAA Division III levels in 2024.

Taylor, a master’s graduate from Pottstown, Pennsylvania, won both the long jump and shot put at the ODAC Championships. In the long jump, Taylor reset her own school record with an impressive leap of 5.82m. Currently, Taylor is ranked in the top 10 in the ODAC in nine different events: heptathlon (first), long jump (first), shot put (second), javelin (second), triple jump (fourth), 400m (sixth), 100m hurdles (seventh), high jump (eighth), and the 200m (10th).

Taylor’s performances this spring have also garnered national attention and rankings. In all of NCAA Division III, she is ranked seventh in both the heptathlon and the long jump. With those marks, Taylor is in line to qualify for the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the second year in a row.

“In two short years, she has already become one of the greatest overall athletes to come through EMU,” Head Track & Field Coach Kyle Dickinson said.

President’s Award

This award is given to student-athletes who exemplify the values of the athletic department through academic achievement, athletic contribution, faith commitment, leadership, campus involvement and service.

Male President’s Award: Ariel Morales Bonilla (Men’s Soccer)

Bonilla, a Richmond, Virginia, native, double-majored in political science and history, minored in Spanish and achieved a 3.87 GPA. He graduated in May and plans to attend grad school.
He was a member of the men’s soccer team for four years while at EMU. In 2023, he led the team and was second in the ODAC in assists with seven, while also helping the team reach the ODAC Tournament for the first time since 2018.
He has been named to the Dean’s List all four years, was named CSC Academic All-District in 2022 and 2023, is a three-time All-ODAC Academic Team member, and presented at the intercollegiate historical Erasmus Symposium. He was also a member of the Latino Student Alliance (LSA), served as historian in 2021-2022, and as president for 2022-2023. He was vice president of the Student Government Association, was a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the International Student Organization and was the SGA representative for the Union of Student Organization.

Female President’s Award: Megan Miller (Women’s Volleyball)

Miller, of Millersburg, Ohio, double-majored in biology and psychology and achieved a 3.98 GPA. After graduating in May, she plans to attend Walsh University in Ohio to get her master’s degree in occupational therapy. 

She was a four-year member of the women’s volleyball team. During her time on the court, she etched her name in the record books, sitting third in career assists with 1,789 and fifth all-time in assists per set with 6.65. 

She has been named to the Dean’s List all four years, was a biology honors student in 2022, was named CSC Academic All-District from 2022 to 2024, is a three-time All-ODAC Academic Team member, was named to the VaSID All-State Academic Team in 2023 and was the recipient of the Women’s Volleyball Academic Award in 2023. 

On campus, she was a Student Athlete Advisory Committee representative from 2020 to 2023, before becoming the president in the fall of 2023. She was a leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a Common Grounds barista, co-president of the senior class, a peer tutor, part of the University Women’s Empowerment Network leadership team and was a Celebration Team Leader. 

Profiles were written by EMU Athletics. They have been edited for conciseness.

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