Van Essen To Run For Defenders

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Van Essen To Run For Defenders

(Thursday, January 13, 2022; Sioux Center, Iowa) Amaya Van Essen,  a senior at Unity Christian High School (Iowa), has announced her intention to attend Dordt and join the Defender track and cross country programs. 

"I am excited to welcome Amaya to our distance program.  She is coming off of a fantastic senior cross country season leading Unity Christian back to the state meet, where she had an outstanding race to cap off her high school career.  Amaya deeply loves the Lord and was thoughtful and deliberate as she considered her college options.  These same characteristics will be important in her collegiate success, as well as in the impact she can have on our team and that she can have on the people she encounters at Dordt.  I look forward to working with her the next four years,” said Dordt cross country coach and assistant track coach Nate Wolf.  

Van Essen has personal bests of 19:52 on a 5,000 meter cross country course; 5:18 in the 1,500 meters and 11:11 in the 3,000 meters.  She finished 14th at the Iowa High School State Cross Country Meet in 2021 and finished 11th in the 3,000 meters at the 2021 state track and field meet. Van Essen has earned all-conference honors four times in cross country and twice so far in track and field.  

“We are glad that Amaya will join the track and field team next year.  Amaya is a consistent runner and is disciplined in her training.  She will thrive on our team and in the college environment.  We are excited to work with her,” said Dordt track and field coach Craig Heynen. 

Amaya is the daughter of Matt and Ang Van Essen of Sioux Center, Iowa. She plans to study biology at Dordt.  

“I chose to commit to Dordt University because I felt the Lord strongly leading me there. Even though I am local, choosing Dordt wasn’t an easy decision for me. I wanted to be very intentional about listening to God’s call on my life and not simply choosing Dordt because it was close. In the end Coach Wolf was super supportive during the process and countless staff members at Dordt lifted me in their prayers. The Lord faithfully revealed to me Dordt was where He wanted me to be. I am so excited to lean into all the opportunities he has for me here,” said Van Essen. 

 Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa, is a comprehensive Christian college rooted in the Reformed tradition. The Defender athletic program is a part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC), American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) and the Mid-American Collegiate Hockey Association (MACHA).   

 U.S. News & World Report, Money Magazine,, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review all list Dordt on their best colleges lists. Dordt is home to approximately 1,500 students.