Nilsen, Moton earn May/June Athlete of the Month accolades

South Dakota's Chris Nilsen and North Dakota State's Akealy Moton named the May/June Summit League Athletes of the Month.
South Dakota's Chris Nilsen and North Dakota State's Akealy Moton named the May/June Summit League Athletes of the Month.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A pair of track and field stars, who are no strangers to league accolades, was selected as The Summit League Athletes of the Month for May and June, league officials announced Thursday.

South Dakota pole vaulter Chris Nilsen is the men's athlete of the month and North Dakota State's thrower Akealy Moton took home the honor on the women's side. Nilsen captured his second monthly honor of the 2018-19 academic year and tenth of his career while Moton garnered her first honor. 

Nilsen captured his third pole vault NCAA Championships title with a lifetime best vault of 19-06.25 (5.95m) in early June. His height at the championship broke his own NCAA Championships meet record and moved Nilsen to third all-time in NCAA history and No. 25 on the IAAF's world record books.

Moton, who recently secured the women's Summit League Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year award, received the monthly accolade following a fifth-place finish in the shot put at the NCAA Outdoor Championships that earned her first-team All-America honors. She was the highest Summit League women's finisher at the national meet and the lone league woman to qualify in two events.

Male Athlete of the Month
Chris Nilsen, South Dakota
Junior | Pole Vault | Kansas City, Mo. 

  • Five vaults over the Olympic standard (19-0.25) this spring and 11 vaults over 19 feet during his career
  • Undefeated in meets during the outdoor season (9-0)
  • Won his third NCAA Championships; broke his own NCAA Championships meet record from a year ago (by nearly five inches)
  • Recorded the No. 3 vault in NCAA history
  • Recorded the No. 25 vault in world history (vaulter, not mark)
  • Ranks No. 1 in the nation in 2019 and No. 2 in the world in 2019
  • Semifinalist for the Bowerman award
  • Men's Summit League Championships Most Outstanding Performer
  • Men's Summit League Field Athlete of the Year 

Also nominated: Payton Otterdahl (North Dakota State), Payton Kinney (Omaha), Spencer Henson (Oral Roberts) 

Female Athlete of the Month
Akealy Moton, North Dakota State
Redshirt Freshman | Throws | West Fargo, N.D. 

  • Earned the women's Summit League Championships Field MVP honors after winning the shot put with a school record (56-10.25, 17.33m) and placing second in the javelin (161-5, 49.19m) at the league meet
  • Only Summit League women's athlete to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in two events
  • Placed fifth in the shot put at the NCAA Championships for the highest finish by a Summit League woman
  • New NDSU shot put record of 57-03.50 (17.46m) at the NCAA Outdoor Championships
  • Secured first-team All-American in the shot put at the NCAA meet
  • Earned honorable mention All-America honors after finishing 20th in the javelin at the NCAA meet
  • Women's Summit League Field Athlete of the Year 

Also nominated: Helen Falda (South Dakota), Sasha Wells (Oral Roberts)  

2018-19 Summit League Athletes of the Month
September
Male: Andre Shinyashiki / Denver / Soccer
Female: Olivia Swenson / North Dakota / Soccer 

October
Male: Eldon Warner / South Dakota / Cross Country
Female: Emma Rafuse / Purdue Fort Wayne / Cross Country 

November
Male: Mike Daum / South Dakota State / Basketball
Female: Taylor Wilson / South Dakota / Volleyball

December
Male:
John Konchar / Purdue Fort Wayne / Basketball
Female: Lexi Klabo / North Dakota / Basketball 

January
Male: Payton Otterdahl / North Dakota State / Track & Field
Female: Ciara Duffy / South Dakota / Basketball 

February
Male: Mike Daum / South Dakota State / Basketball
Female: Jamie Holscher / South Dakota / Softball 

March
Male: Payton Otterdahl / North Dakota State / Track & Field
Female: Macy Miller / South Dakota State / Basketball 

April
Male: Chris Nilsen / South Dakota / Track & Field
Female: KK Leddy / North Dakota State / Softball 

May
Male: Chris Nilsen / South Dakota / Track & Field
Female: Akealy Moton / North Dakota State / Track & Field

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