Kirst, Schelling and Spence Named Senior CLASS Award Candidates

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Enjoying success on and off the field, a program-record three Lehigh men’s lacrosse student-athletes were named candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, as announced on Monday. Lehigh featured three of the 20 candidates nationally. The three honorees are also the most in the nation (Georgetown, Syracuse and Loyola all had two). It marks the fourth straight season the Mountain Hawks have featured multiple honorees.
 
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. 
 
Lehigh has had a strong tradition of Senior CLASS Award honorees. The Mountain Hawks have now had at least one candidate in nine of the last 10 years (with 14 honorees in that time). Lehigh is the only men’s lacrosse program in the country with multiple honorees in four straight years.
 
Conor Gaffney and Teddy Leggett were both named candidates last season. For Gaffney, it marked his second straight year named a candidate while Leggett went on to be named a finalist. In 2020, Gaffney and Andrew Pettit were both named candidates while Pettit and Craig Chick were recognized in 2019.
 
Previous Senior CLASS Award candidates were Cody Triolo in 2017, Casey Eidenshink in 2016, Dan Taylor in 2015, Ty Souders in 2014, Ryan Snyder in 2013 and Jonathan Stumpf in 2011. Chick, Souders and Stumpf were all named finalists.

To be eligible for the Senior CLASS Award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
 
The 20 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists later in the season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.

The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced in conjunction with the 2022 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse National Championship in May.
 
Cole Kirst
 
Classroom
Kirst owns a strong GPA over 3.2 as a journalism major. Over his career, he’s been named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll, Dean’s List multiple times (for a semester GPA of 3.6+) and has garnered the Faculty Athletics Council Award. This school year, he has gained relevant experience as a multimedia intern with Lehigh Sports Communications, helping produce content for the Lehigh Athletics website, social media accounts and live sporting events on ESPN+. Since 2019, he has also been a sports reporter for the Lehigh University student newspaper, The Brown and White.
 
Character
Kirst is a team captain for the 2022 season as someone who is greatly respected and looked up to by his teammates and peers. He also has experience as a member of the Lehigh Athletics C.O.A.C.H. program (Community Outreach by Athletes who Care about Helping) – explained further below in “Community.”
 
Community
In 2018, Kirst got involved with the C.O.A.C.H. program. Among the things C.O.A.C.H. spearheads is the Adopt-A-Family program where each Lehigh team (including the men’s lacrosse program) provides a holiday for a local underprivileged family. The event has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but has continued in creative ways. The process typically includes shopping for gifts, wrapping and delivering them in early December. The pandemic in 2020 changed how things looked, but Lehigh Athletics continued to raise funds and help local families in need, but in different ways (through things like gift cards and without the final in-person meeting).
 
In addition, just a few days into some fall semesters, the men’s lacrosse program held an annual community service kickoff for the City of Bethlehem Parks and Recreation. 
 
Also, Lehigh has a strong connection to the HEADstrong Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to providing essential services to improve lives affected by cancer. This past fall, the Mountain Hawks took part in HEADstrong’s Lax Stache Madness and raised nearly $13,000 (as of December) for the fight against cancer, with Lehigh fifth among Division I programs in money raised. In 2018, the Mountain Hawks absolutely shattered their goal, raising over $20,000 for HEADstrong and the fight against cancer.
 
Competition
Kirst has only gotten better and better over his career, culminating with earning second team All-Patriot League honors as a junior last season. He finished 2021 second on the Mountain Hawks in goals (26) and third in points (34). Kirst was consistent in recording multiple points in all 12 contests, including eight multi-goal games and five hat tricks. He began the season with seven consecutive multi-goal games. He posted a career-high five points at Lafayette.
 
Entering his senior season, Kirst owned 37 goals and 14 assists for 51 points – recording 12 points as a rookie and five as a sophomore to go with his 34 as a junior. Also, in late November, Kirst was named to the final 23-player United States roster for the 2022 Under-21 Championship. He will travel to Limerick, Ireland for the Aug. 10-20 championships. It was originally a U-19 event that was twice postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
 
Tommy Schelling
Tommy Schelling 
Classroom
Schelling owns a stellar 3.51 cumulative grade point average as a Mechanical Engineering major and Business minor. In his career, Schelling has been named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll every year (for a spring semester GPA of 3.2+), been named to the Dean’s List multiple times and garnered the Faculty Athletics Council Award (for a semester GPA of 3.2+). He also tallied a perfect 4.0 grade point average in the fall of 2020.
 
Schelling has extensive relevant work experience as an intern with stainless steel manufacturer Phoenix Tube Co. in each of the last two summers. He has been a member of the Engineering team, dealing with group and individual projects. He accepted technical sales engineering internship position at Trane Technologies for this summer. Schelling plans on pursuing his master’s degree.
 
Character
Schelling is a team captain for the 2022 Mountain Hawks. He’s also member of the Lehigh men’s lacrosse program’s Academic Council, aimed to help all of the program’s student-athletes be at their best in the classroom.
 
Community
From 2014 to 2018, Schelling assisted at Interfaith Food Pantry, which distributes supplemental and/or emergency food to qualifying Morris County residents by organizing and maintaining the pantry, and helping with the distribution of food.
 
Over his Lehigh career, Schelling and the Mountain Hawks have continually taken part in community service, especially early in his career (before the COVID-19 pandemic). Just a few days into some fall semesters, the men’s lacrosse program held an annual community service kickoff for the City of Bethlehem Parks and Recreation.
 
Lehigh has a strong connection to the HEADstrong Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to providing essential services to improve lives affected by cancer. It’s a cause that’s especially close to Tommy’s heart, as his mother is a breast cancer survivor. This past fall, the Mountain Hawks took part in HEADstrong’s Lax Stache Madness and raised nearly $13,000 (as of December) for the fight against cancer, with Lehigh fifth among Division I programs in money raised. In 2018, the Mountain Hawks shattered their goal, raising over $20,000 for HEADstrong.
 
Every holiday season, Schelling and the Mountain Hawks take part in Adopt-A-Family where they provide a holiday for a local underprivileged family. The process typically includes shopping for gifts, wrapping and delivering them in early December. The pandemic in 2020 changed how things looked, but Lehigh Athletics continued to raise funds and help local families in need, but in different ways (through things like gift cards and without the final in-person meeting).
 
Competition
Schelling garnered preseason All-League recognition after being named first team All-Patriot League in 2021. Last season, Schelling led the Mountain Hawks in assists (24) and points (48), finishing third in the league (19th nationally) in assists per game (2.18), fourth (21st nationally) in points per contest (4.36) and sixth (48th nationally) in goals per game (2.18). He also finished fourth on the team with 32 groundballs while recording seven multi-goal games, 10 multi-point games and three hat tricks. Twice named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List, Schelling tallied five or more points in seven of the 10 regular season games. He was twice named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week (following wins at Colgate and vs. Navy).
 
For his career, Schelling entered his senior season with 63 goals and 48 assists for 111 points, posting 30 points as a first year then 33 in just six games as a sophomore (which was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic). He finished that shortened 2020 season 12th nationally in points per game (5.50). He began that season with career highs for goals (7) and points (9) against Utah. Through three seasons, Schelling has also tallied 52 groundballs and 12 caused turnovers along with 17 multi-goal games, 27 multi-point games and nine hat tricks.
 
James Spence
James Spence

Classroom
Spence owns a 3.0 grade point average working towards a Master of Science in Business Management. He graduated last May with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering with related coursework including Strength of Materials, Thermodynamics, Fluid Dynamics and much more. In his undergraduate career, Spence posted a perfect 4.0 GPA in the fall of 2020, has garnered the Faculty Athletics Council Award and has been named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll.
 
Spence has significant experience in the engineering field, including working as a field engineer intern for Allan Myers in Wilmington, Delaware last summer. While there, he worked under project engineers in the materials division on an asphalt plant. For Spence’s senior capstone project at Lehigh, he designed and prototyped a windshield wiper cover that fits all windshield wipers to save time and money on traditional wipers.
 
Character
Spence has undertaken a number of leadership positions, most notably serving as a team captain in 2022. He also has significant experience in Lehigh’s Flight 45 Leadership Program, which included serving as a Student-Athlete Mentor from February, 2018 to May, 2019. In that program, he assisted incoming first years during their first semester. The program included participation in weekly group meetings and individual meetings with each of the first years on his team. The year prior, Spence was chosen to be a member of Emerging Leaders – programming engagement to become a better leader through weekly sessions and activities. Meanwhile, Spence has also served as an assistant coach for the Springfield Cougars Lacrosse Club (from June, 2016 to the present).
 
Community
Over his career, Spence (and the Mountain Hawks) have continually taken part in community service, especially early in his career (before the COVID-19 pandemic). Just a few days into some fall semesters, the men’s lacrosse program held an annual community service kickoff for the City of Bethlehem Parks and Recreation. 
 
Lehigh has a strong connection to the HEADstrong Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to providing essential services to improve lives affected by cancer. This past fall, the Mountain Hawks took part in HEADstrong’s Lax Stache Madness and raised nearly $13,000 (as of December) for the fight against cancer, with Lehigh fifth among Division I programs in money raised. In 2018, the Mountain Hawks absolutely shattered their goal, raising over $20,000 for HEADstrong and the fight against cancer.
 
In addition, every holiday season, Spence and the Mountain Hawks take part in Adopt-A-Family where they provide a holiday for a local underprivileged family. The event has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but has continued in creative ways. The process typically includes shopping for gifts, wrapping and delivering them in early December. The pandemic in 2020 changed how things looked, but Lehigh Athletics continued to raise funds and help local families in need, but in different ways (through things like gift cards and without the final in-person meeting).
 
Competition
A five-year starter in goal, Spence owns more than 500 career saves and a 37-19 record between the pipes. Every season he’s played, the Mountain Hawks have advanced to the Patriot League Championship Game (2018, 2019 and 2021). In 2020, Lehigh was 5-1 and 2-0 in league play, and looked destined for another deep postseason run before the season was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. Then in 2021, the Mountain Hawks were the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament and finished 9-0 against league opponents, but a positive COVID-19 test among Loyola’s tier 1 personnel cancelled the game. Lehigh earned the automatic qualifier for the NCAA Tournament where it was the No. 8 seed.
 
Spence had his best season as a senior in 2021, garnering honorable mention All-America by the USILA, Inside Lacrosse Media and USA Lacrosse Magazine. He finished the season 14th in the nation in save percentage (56.0) and 15th in goals against average (9.83), reaching double-figure saves in nine of his 12 games (and finishing with a 10-2 record). One of his strongest performances was a career-high tying 17 saves (allowing just six goals) in a 10-6 win over Loyola to earn a spot on the USILA National Team of the Week.
 
Spence’s career save percentage is  53.0, with a goals against average under 9.5. He’s anchored a defense that’s consistently been among the nation’s best. Last season, the Mountain Hawks stood 18th in scoring defense – allowing 10.18 goals per game.
 
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