SAGU's cross country team has received plenty of national attention in the young program’s beginnings. They can now add one more national award to the list. Junior Jerry Nava has been chosen as the National Christian Colleges Athletics Association’s (NCCAA) Wheeler Award recipient.
Nava has quite the athletic background, and one that until two years ago did not involve cross country. SAGU cross country coach Jason Covarrubias, believes that’s part of what makes Nava so special, “Jerry’s story on how he fell into the SAGU cross country program is like a fairy tale. He is a kid who came to SAGU for soccer but things didn’t work out. He was searching for something to do and two seasons later he holds five school records. That just doesn’t happen!”
The SAGU records Nava holds include the 1500, the 5k in both track and cross country, 10k, half marathon and marathon.
In the fall of 2014, Nava joined the cross country team. Three days later he finished fourth place in his first-ever cross country meet at the East Texas Invitational. Since that day, his races continue to impress and improve. In 2014, Nava finished 35th in the Sooner Athletic Conference race and 85th at the NCCAA Nationals. The next season, he improved to a 17th place finish at the SAC race and 26th at the NCCAA Nationals.
This season Nava has had two top five finishes and a personal record of 25:58 at Dallas Baptist University.
Although his athletic résumé is impressive, Covarrubias knows that is just the tip of the iceberg, “The best part about Jerry Nava is his heart for the less fortunate. Just to listen to him talk about the kids from the Boys & Girls Club lets you know that it’s more than a job. It is his ministry.”
While working with the Boys & Girls Club, Nava is able to share the gospel to hundreds of kids daily. During the summers, he also works at The Salvation Army’s Camp Hoblitzelle in Midlothian, Texas, where he is a counselor. He has devoted two full years to the ministry of the Salvation Army.
“He truly digs deep at practices, in meets and most importantly with his walk with Christ,” says Covarrubias.
In the classroom, Nava holds a 3.37 GPA in Human Resource Management and was named to the Sooner Athletic Conference All-Academic Team in 2015.
In 2015, SAGU’s only National Champion Destiny Garza was also awarded the Wheeler Award. SAGU cross country now boasts the honor two years in a row.
The Wheeler Award is sponsored by John and Jody Wheeler who have been involved in athletic activities of Christian high schools and colleges for many years.
The award was established to enhance excellence in Christian track and field competition and to perpetuate the Christian philosophy and faith as exemplified through Christ-like track and field participation in NCCAA member institutions.