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SOCORRO, N.M. June 4, 2012 – Enrique Koerdell, a junior in civil engineering at New Mexico Tech, has been named recipient of the Jeremiah Wright Memorial Cup as the outstanding men’s rugby player for the 2011-2012 academic year. Koerdell was selected by his teammates at a recent post-season awards ceremony also attended by members of the Tech Queens women’s rugby club.

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Enrique Koerdell holds the Jeremiah Wright trophy, along with Tech rugby director Dave Wheelock. Photo by Merline Montoya.

The Jeremiah Wright Award honors the memory of the mechanical engineering senior and Pygmy captain from Raton, N.M., who died in a 2002 collision with a recklessly driven law enforcement vehicle. Each year’s honoree receives an engraved cup and his name is inscribed on the trophy residing at the Tech gymnasium.

The end of year function annually includes a touch rugby match, dinner, and voting for various distinctions. After several years of hiatus at Tech, the Queens figured prominently in the activities this year. Lisa Sanchez received the Spirit Award from captains Lynnae Logan and Jade Horton for her consistent enthusiasm while Laura Lane was recognized as Trooper of the Year following an injury suffered during the Socorro Challenge tournament on April 7.

Established in 1973, the Pygmy Rugby Club is Tech’s oldest continuous sport club. Players selected Jerod Aragon as their Most Valuable Forward of the year while 2010-2011 Wright honoree Isaiah Sanchez was named Most Valuable Back. Jason Lee was named Rising Star as the club’s most promising new player and Brock Romero got the nod as Favorite Teammate. Two coach’s awards were conferred, upon Tyler Fletcher for on-field excellence and James Chavez for all around service to the club.

A 2009 graduate of Santa Fe’s Monte del Sol High School, Koerdell has packed a lot into his young life. In addition to working in his family’s small business, he also participated in soccer, basketball, track, baseball, and rugby, and was named the school’s Student Body Athlete his senior year. No mere jock, Enrique Koerdell was named to the National Honor Society, attained Eagle Scout status, and played in a mariachi group. At New Mexico Tech, Enrique participates in the Student Senate and is a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and supports the Society of Women Engineers.

Koerdell is a 6’1”, 175 pound dynamo equipped with catlike quickness and an indomitable spirit. Where 2011 Wright Cup winner Isaiah Sanchez is a study of seemingly effortless ability as he glides past would-be tacklers, Koerdell’s grunts of effort can often be heard as he mixes it up with larger forward players as part of his tackling and ball-winning duties as an inside back.

“I hate to lose,” Koerdell says simply, “but I love to play.”

Their never-say-die attitudes have helped form a strong bond between the two rugby men. Koerdell’s nominating letter helped convince a sport club committee to select Sanchez as the NMT Sportsman of the Year on April 15, and Sanchez later withdrew his name from Wright Cup balloting after the two had received an equal number of their teammates’ votes.

“I already have the honor of my name on the Wright Trophy - and I had his name on my ballot anyway!” reasons Sanchez.

The only potentially bad news in this story is reserved for opponents. Both Sanchez and Koerdell will return next fall to play for New Mexico Tech.

– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock /Tech Rugby Director