University of Detroit Mercy cross country and track and field standout Ben Kendell did nothing but break records in competition and achieve high marks in the classroom and for that brilliant career, he was named the winner of the Horizon League’s 2019 Cecil N. Coleman Medal of Honor.
The Horizon League’s highest individual honor, the Coleman Medal of Honor is presented annually to the league’s top male and female student-athletes who best exemplify the dignity and high purpose of the league and its membership. The individuals demonstrate outstanding achievements in academics, athletics and extracurricular activities. Candidates must be seniors who have exhausted their eligibility and were participants on the varsity level in a league-sponsored sport. In addition, nominees must have a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, or its equivalent.
Kendell — who owns a 3.90 GPA an undergraduate and a 3.70 as a graduate in Engineering — earned the honor along with Northern Kentucky track performer BriAuna Keys.
“It’s an honor to receive this award and I am humbled to be in company with the select few who have won medal of honor, including the other Titans who have received this award,” said Kendell.
The harrier wrapped up one of the best collegiate careers in school history as a distance runner competing in cross country and track and field.
In cross country, he was All-Horizon League First Team in all four years, winning the individual conference title in 2018 as a senior, while finishing runner-up twice and fifth as a freshman. That fifth-place finish helped the Titans win the Horizon League Championship in 2014, and he was also selected the HL Outdoor Athlete of the Year following his victorious run as a graduate senior. He ended his cross country career in style taking silver at the 2018 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship — the highest place in a regional run by a Titan in school history and the best HL finish since 2008 — and placing 95th at the NCAA DI National Championship with a school 10k record.
His name is all over the Detroit Mercy record books as he owns the school mark in the 4-mile (19:39 at 2018 Running Fit-Detroit Mercy Titan Invitational), 8K (23:54 at 2018 Great Louisville Classic) and 10K (30:35 at 2018 NCAA GLR) with six career wins and five more runner-up performances.
“This is a magnificent honor for Ben and well-deserved after his tireless dedication to his training, his success in cross country and track and his outstanding academic achievements in the classroom,” said Director of Athletics Robert C. Vowels, Jr.
In track, he was a four-time Horizon League champion winning the indoor 3000-meters in 2017 and 2018 as well as the outdoor 5,000m in 2019 and the 10,000m in 2015 and was runner-up in the 10,000m in 2016 and 2018. He was also chosen the Horizon League Male Outdoor Athlete of the Year in 2019 as he broke the Horizon League record in the 5,000m with a time of 14:23.94.
He qualified for the 10,000m at the NCAA East Preliminary Championship in 2018 and 2019, taking 20th in 2018 and 21st this past season with a time of 30:06 in both years.
“I have been in the Horizon League for over 30 years as a student-athlete and coach and I believe Ben Kendell typifies what the Coleman Award is all about,” said Director of Cross Country & Track and Field Guy Murray. “He is what the Horizon League wants in our student-athletes in that he excels in the classroom, in competition, in service, is a great team leader and showcases sportsmanship to the highest degree.”
In the classroom, he was just as impressive as a five-time member of the Detroit Mercy Athletic Director’s Honor Roll and a four-time member of the Horizon League’s fall and spring academic honor rolls. He was named to nine HL Academic Team’s in cross country and track and was the Horizon League Scholar-Athlete of the Year three times in the fall (2015, 2016, 2018), once in the winter (2018) and twice in the spring (2018, 2019). Additionally, he was a USTFCCCA All-Academic honoree after his senior year in cross country and three times in track and field (2017, 2018, 2019).
Kendell was twice tabbed CoSIDA Google Cloud Academic All-District (2018, 2019) and was selected a Third Team CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2017 and is on the ballot for Academic All-American honors again this year.
Outside of competition and school, he volunteered at the Detroit Free Press Marathon and for the Team Fitzgerald neighborhood clean-up project while completing engineering internships with Re-sol Future Technologies and Fiat Chrysler.
Kendell is the sixth Titan to receive the Coleman Medal of Honor and the third in the last five years joining Sara Zawacki (women’s soccer) in 2016 and Matt Ybarra (men’s soccer) in 2015. The other Titans who have earned the accolade include Mary Parker (women’s soccer) in 2007, Lori Caloia (softball) in 2000 and Ken Dubois (cross country/track and field) in 1988.
— Original story by Detroit Mercy Titan Athletics.