USD’s Nilsen, UNO’s Ahrens Earn May/June Athlete of the Month Honors

USD’s Nilsen, UNO’s Ahrens Earn May/June Athlete of the Month Honors
ELMHURST, Ill. - The Summit League has selected South Dakota track & field student-athlete Chris Nilsen (Kansas City, Mo.) as the Male Athlete of the Month and Omaha track & field student-athlete Stephanie Ahrens (Lincoln, Neb.) as the Female Athlete of the Month for May/June.
 
Nilsen earns his third Athlete of the Month honor this season and eighth of his career, extending his league record. The sophomore closed out the regular season clearing a lifetime-best height of 19' 2.75" (5.86m) at the Howard Wood Dakota Relays to further solidify his stance at the top of the 2018 NCAA performance list. With that mark, Nilsen also jumped to No. 4 in the world and No. 4 on the NCAA's all-time performance list. The 2018 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Midwest Field Athlete of the Year and Bowerman semifinalist won the league title in the pole vault at outdoor championships before moving on to secure his second national title at NCAA Championships. With his victory in Eugene, Ore., Nilsen became the third track & field competitor in Summit League history to win two career national titles.
 
Omaha's Ahrens also made history at NCAA Championships in Eugene, with the senior from Lincoln, Neb., becoming the first Maverick track & field athlete ever to garner first-team All-America status in the Division I era. Ahrens made her NCAA Championships debut earlier this month, clearing the very first height she attempted (5' 8.00"  1.73m) but failing on the next two at the 5' 10" (1.78m) height. With only one jump left, Ahrens mustered the vertical capabilities in her 5' 11" frame to clear the height and move on. Ahrens tied for eighth-place in the competition, added a 0.5 point to Omaha's cause and became the first non-hockey Maverick student-athlete in the DI era to notch All-America honors of any kind, let alone first team. Before nationals, the UNO high jumper secured her third-consecutive individual title at outdoor league championships in mid-May and booked a ticket for NCAA West Prelims in Sacramento where she tied for second in the competition. 
 
Also nominated for the Men's Athlete of the Month: Israel Nelson, Oral Roberts, track & field
 
Also nominated for the Women's Athlete of the Month: Mercy Abire, Oral Roberts, track & field; Helen Falda, South Dakota, track & field

ABOUT THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
Through 35 years of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of nearly 100,000 at eight institutions, including three located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University with the University of North Dakota becoming an official member on July 1, 2018. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced nine NCAA Champions along with over 90 Academic All-Americans, nearly 100 All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level. For more information about the league, visit www.thesummitleague.org website, follow The Summit League on Twitter @thesummitleague.

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