Michael Walker Pretorius, Trevecca Nazarene University graduate and alumnus of the Trojan's cross country and track and field programs, passed away following a courageous battle with cancer.
Pretorius transitioned surrounded by those closest to him on Sunday afternoon, July 31, 2022. Thousands prayed, supported, and cheered on both battles with cancer.
In 2016, Trevecca athletic director Mark Elliott recognized that courage in creating the Michael Pretorius Courage Award to be given at the annual TROJY awards. The first Pretorius Courage Award was awarded to Michael himself at the 2016 TROJY Awards.
*Watch a video chronicling his first battle with cancer, which accompanied his getting the 2016 award. (WATCH).
Quoting from the official language of the TROJY Awards, "the Michael Pretorius Courage Award goes to someone who demonstrates the selfless courage, moral conviction, and principled faith to respond to adversity in Christ-likeness that goes beyond their natural abilities."
Michael Pretorius Courage Award
Michael Pretorius - 2016
Ethan Hurt - 2017
Dominic Obunaka - 2018
Jayme Crowley - 2019
Olivia Pepperman - 2020
Michael Jones - 2022
Michael was first diagnosed with cancer late in 2014, the first semester of his senior year. He fought that first wave only to return late in the spring of 2015 to run in his only track and field event as a Trojan. He didn't choose the easy path, choosing to run the 800m at the 2015 Rhodes Invitational in Memphis.
In 2015, Pretorius married Amanda in the fall of 2016 and began working at Ramsey Solutions a short time later.
In addition to his athletic prowess, Michael Pretorius amazed others in his life with other gifts. His songwriting and performances tugged at your heart. Here's a song he wrote and performed – Living Water – Michael Pretorius Video.
During his first season in the purple and white, the Springboro, Ohio native earned second-team Great Midwest All-Conference honors. He also earned G-MAC All-Academic team honors. After that, he took a break from competition, returning to run for new coach Austin Selby during his senior season. He debuted with an 18:17.87 in the 5K race at the Queen City Cross Country Invitational.
Selby said, "I only coached Michael for one year, but in that one year, it was a pleasure. He taught me so much, setting himself apart as an athlete who could be an example for others. He came in a little behind, sitting out a season, but quickly made up ground and earned a spot in our top seven. This was not an easy feat, especially at the collegiate level. But, even though workouts wore him down, he finished with a smile and a "thanks, coach." The ones who thank you after a tough day are the ones you want. As an athlete, he was incredible, but pales compared to who he was as a person."
"Everyone who knew Michael agrees he was one of a kind. I know we often say that, but it is 100% true about him. For two years, he bravely fought cancer as it returned. Believing every day, even until the end, that God was good and would provide healing. In the end, God brought him home. Michael leaves a trail of how to run the race for all of us. He showed how to have faith in the face of insurmountable odds and praise God the entire way. He is greatly missed but leaves an impossible legacy to forget."
Later in that first season (2012-2013) at the Vanderbilt Commodore Classic, he recorded a time of 29:08.71 at the 8K distance. At the Greater Louisville, he cut 8K time to 28:44.72. He recorded points for Trevecca at the Crimson Classic with a 29:16.37 time at the 8K distance. He saved his best 8K time for the Great Midwest Championships with a 28:31.74 race.
The Trevecca family, especially those who are a part of Trojan Athletics, is saddened to hear of Michael's passing but are thankful for his life and the opportunity to know him. Someone special who showed us how to respond to seemingly unbeatable adversity with selfless courage, moral conviction, and a Christ-like principled faith that goes beyond one's natural abilities.