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Home Sports 2023 Grads Berg and Battershell named Senior Athletes of the Year

Photo description: Battershell rounds the bend during conference track; Berg celebrates with a coach while returning to the CUNE dugout 
Photo credit: CUNE photo library (photos edited by Lauren Dawson)
Madeline Peters
Sports Editor


Ben Berg and Rachel Battershell are CUNE’s 2022- 2023 Male and Female Senior Athletes of the Year, awards given to students who not only achieve success in their sport but are also leaders as teammates and as Christians

This award also automatically nominates these athletes for consideration as candidates for the Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame in the future.

Berg played catcher for the Bulldog baseball team for five seasons and has been a boon to the nationally ranked team. He currently holds the record for career putouts with 1,385 and career fielding percentage at 0.992. Kaleb Geiger, the previous career putout record holder, played from 2015-18 and had 838 putouts.

“It’s a huge honor; it’s not something that was really even on my radar… I didn’t know if I was gonna have any chance to win that or not, but I got a letter in the mail a couple weeks later that said I’d been selected,” Berg said. “[I’m] just really grateful… for the opportunities that Concordia gave me to develop into that kind of person who could receive an award like that.”

Berg’s name comes up numerous other times in the record book. He holds third and fourth place for season putouts with 380 in 2021 and 359 in 2023. He is 10th in career bases on balls with 76, fifth in career runs batted in, sixth in career home runs with 27, ninth in career doubles with 39, seventh in season doubles with 16 for 2023, seventh in career hits with 193, seventh in seasonal hits with 76 for 2023, seventh in career at bats with 602 and eighth in career games played with 186.

Berg helped lead the Bulldog baseball team to three Great Plains Athletic Conference championships and four National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Championship runs. Berg was named to the GPAC first team all-conference in 2023, second team all-conference in 2021 and received an all-conference honorable mention in 2022. He also received the GPAC Gold Glove catcher award in 2023.

On the academic side, Berg graduated with a 3.98 cumulative grade point average and was a four-time NAIA scholar athlete. He graduated with a Bachelor of Sciences in Education degree with concentrations in secondary education and physical education. He volunteered in Lincoln at People’s City Mission, tutored his fellow education majors and was a member of the Bulldog Council of Student Athletes.

Battershell was a constant newsworthy name for the Concordia track and field team during her time at the university. As a sprinter, Battershell took over the track and field record book, holding the record for the indoor 400-meter dash (54.77), indoor 4×400-meter relay (3:47.39), outdoor 100-meter hurdles (14.25), outdoor 4×100-meter relay (47.66) and outdoor 4×400-meter relay (3:47.26).

She also holds many other spots on the relay record list, including half the top ten on the outdoor 4×100-meter and 4×400-meter relays, the top 11 records for the indoor 4×400-meter relay, second in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.81, fourth in the out- door 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:02.18, second in the outdoor 400-meter dash with a time of 55.05, fifth in the indoor 200-meter dash with a time of 56.07, seventh in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.97 and ninth in 600-meter run with a time of 1:36.73.

Battershell won 13 NAIA All-America awards between the indoor and outdoor seasons, including back-to-back indoor 400-meter dash golds in 2020 and 2021. She has 13 GPAC conference titles and 25 GPAC all-conference titles. She was awarded with the College Sports Communicators Academic All-American of the Year award for women’s track and field in 2023 which is given to one female athlete each year for prolific academic and athletic achievement.

Battershell graduated with a triple major in biology, chemistry and exercise science with an almost perfect GPA. She plans on going for her doctorate at the University of Arizona. She received other academic honors, such as four Academic All-America awards from College Sports Communicators, and was a consistent NAIA scholar athlete. As for extracurriculars, she was a member of the campus’ pre-medicine club and helped coordinate blood drives for the Red Cross and Nebraska Community Blood Bank.

“The senior athlete of the year award is a wonderful recognition for the effort I’ve put into Concordia’s track program,” Battershell said. “In this light, it is edifying to look back and see how far I’ve come. I’m thankful for the community that has supported me, especially in this final year. Across campus and state lines, these are people who constantly remind me to laugh, rejoice in the Lord in all situations, and work hard even and especially when I’m tired.”

Berg and Battershell have some advice for future students and athletes.

“Continue to strive to live out the tenets of our culture,” Berg said. “We talk a lot about family and continuous improvement. I think everything I try to do [is] to orient myself towards those values every day, y’know. [I] tried to be the best teammate that I could, and do the best I could to help others feel welcomed and part of a family. Also, just to show up every day and to be present, to be where your feet are.”

Battershell said it is important to “find ‘your people.’”

“Challenge each other – having friendly competition is so powerful,” Battershell said. “At the same time, don’t put so much pressure on yourself to perform that you aren’t having fun, and know that you are loved and valuable no matter the result.”

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