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Rottinghaus, Letcher to be honored as Washburn Athletes of the Year

By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

Washburn University All-America volleyball player Faith Rottinghaus and All-America football player James Letcher Jr. will be honored as Washburn University's outstanding female and male athletes for 2021-2022 at the Topeka Shawnee County Sports Awards and Hall of Fame induction ceremonies Wednesday night at Washburn's Memorial Union (6 p.m. start).

James Letcher Jrjpg 1Washburn All-American receiver/returner James Letcher Jr. will be honored Wednesday night as WU's male outstanding athlete for 2021-2022. [Photo by Phil Anderson/Special to TSN]

FaithRottinghaussetFormer Shawnee Heights and Washburn volleyball star Faith Rottinghaus (left) will be honored Wednesday night as the Washburn Women's Athlete of the Year. [File photo/TSN]

Shawnee Heights product Rottinghaus, was named the Ken B. Jones MIAA Female Student-Athlete of the Year after leading the nation in digs and helping the Ichabods reach the NCAA Division II national championship match while Letcher earned five All-America awards last fall after leading Washburn to a 9-3 record and a berth in the NCAA Division II football playoffs.

TopSports.news will honor outstanding Washburn athletes for the second time in conjunction with the Topeka Shawnee County Sports Awards and Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

In 2021 Andrew Beckler and Tyler Geiman were named Washburn co-outstanding male athletes and Virgi Scardanzan was honored as female athlete of the year. 

Washburn Athlete of the Year capsules:

JAMES LETCHER JR.

Letcher earned five All-America awards after a monster 2021 season for the Ichabods, who posted a 9-3 record and advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs. Letcher earned first-team All-America honors on the Don Hansen NCAA Division II All-America squad, the Associated Press and the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association All-American teams and was a second-team D2Football.com Elite 100 selection and a second-team pick on the American Football Coaches Association team. Letcher has received six All-America awards overall,  earning honorable mention on the Football Gazette All-American team in 2019.

Last fall, Letcher led the team with 68 receptions, 927 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 starts. Letcher also rushed 19 times for 106 yards. He had a single-game high 10 receptions for 132 yards against Emporia State and earned All-MIAA first-team recognition as a wide receiver and a returner and was named the MIAA Special Teams Player of the Year after taking 24 kickoffs for 685 yards and two touchdowns.

Letcher has appeared in 37 games overall, compiling 148 receptions for 1,916 yards and 19 touchdowns while averaging 12.9 yards per catch. Letcher has scored three kickoff-return touchdowns, the most in program history and has averaged 27.2 yards per kickoff return, which is second all-time at Washburn for a career.

A Piper High School graduate, Letcher starred in football for the Pirates and also played basketball and ran track. As a senior Letcher earned all-league football recognition at running back, defensive back and kickoff returner. Letcher earned All-State recognition at running back and defensive back as a senior, recording 10 interceptions and rushing for 1,562 yards and scoring 27 touchdowns. Letcher was also a standout for the East in the Kansas Shrine Bowl.

FAITH ROTTINGHAUS

A Shawnee Heights graduate, Rottinghaus helped lead the Ichabods to a second-place finish in the NCAA Division II Volleyball Championships, leading the nation with 833 total digs and earning second-team All-America honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association and the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association. Rottinghaus received the Ken B. Jones Award as the MIAA Female Student-Athlete of the Year.

Rottinghaus earned All-MIAA first-team honors for the third straight season and earned the NCAA Elite 90 Award, becoming the first Washburn student-athlete and MIAA volleyball player to receive the prestigious academic honor. She was named the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-American Volleyball Team Member of the Year and received her third consecutive Academic All-America first-team honor.

Rottinghaus was voted to the all-tournament team in all five tournaments Washburn competed in and played in all 127 sets for the Ichabods. Rottinghaus became Washburn's all-time digs leader in the regular-season finale against Northwest Missouri. Rottinghaus scooped up 51 digs in a 3-1 victory at then-ranked No. 7 Central Missouri, tying Washburn's single-match record and setting the program record for most digs in a four set match. She had 24 matches with 20 or more digs and successfully received 394 service attempts, committing just eight errors for a .980 reception percentage. Rottinghaus led the team with 33 service aces and tallied 88 assists. Rottinghaus was named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll and also received MIAA Scholar Athlete and MIAA Academic Excellence honors, closing out her career with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

A four-year letter-winner in volleyball, basketball and softball at Shawnee Heights, Rottinghaus helped lead the T-Birds to three Class 5A volleyball tournament berths, including the 2016 state championship her senior year. Rottinghaus was a two-time All-State first-team selection as an outfielder in softball, helping the T-Birds win the school's first state softball title in 2017.