#SummitOTF Athletes of the Week

#SummitOTF Athletes of the Week

ELMHURST, Ill. – Following another historic performance in the men's pole vault at Texas Relays, South Dakota's Chris Nilsen was named The Summit League's Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Week Tuesday. South Dakota State's Rachel King earned the recognition on the women's side for her record-breaking run in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the Stanford Invitational.

Nilsen continues to solidify his stance as one of the greatest pole vaulters in NCAA history after rocking the track & field world last Saturday in Austin. The sophomore from Kansas City, Mo., motored past the competition and nearly posted a spotless scorecard en route to clearing the bar at 19' 0.25" (5.80m) on his very first attempt. The three-time All-American missed on his next three attempts at 19' 2.25" (5.85m), but still locked up the individual event title and broke the school's outdoor record in the process.

With his championship performance in Austin, Nilsen—who was also named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division I National Athlete of the Week earlier today—now ranks No. 1 in the NCAA and No. 4 in the world this season. Additionally, Nilsen's mark is tied for seventh-best in NCAA outdoor history and would have won every title at outdoor NCAA's from 1997 to 2017.

South Dakota State's King also shattered a school record of her own last weekend, with hers coming in the 3000m steeplechase event on Cobb Track in Stanford, Calif. The junior from St. Michael, Minn., bested the old program record—which she set at this very meet last year—by 9.57 seconds and clocked in with a 10:01.14 time. King placed fifth overall in the race, but currently ranks fifth in the entire NCAA and 21st in the world following that run.  

Chris Nilsen, SOUTH DAKOTA  

So. // Kansas City, Mo.   

  • Competed in the men's pole vault university elite section at Texas Relays, March 31
  • Won the section, tied a personal-best and broke the USD outdoor record with a 19' 0.25" (5.80m) vault
  • Moved to No. 1 on the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Performance List
  • Nilsen's performance is tied for seventh-best all-time collegiately (source)
  • Top-ranked American pole vaulter and fourth overall in the world in 2018 (source)
  • Nilsen's mark would have won the NCAA Outdoor Championship every year from 1997 to 2017
  • Named the USTFCCCA Division I National Athlete of the Week
  • Fifth-career Summit League Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Week award

Also nominated: Raymond Ekevwo, Oral Roberts // Payton Otterdahl, North Dakota State // Kyle Burdick, South Dakota State // Nick Olson, Western Illinois

Previous Winners: Payton Otterdahl, North Dakota State (March 20) // Matt Neururer, North Dakota State (March 27)


Jr. // St. Michael, Minn.

  • Competed in the women's 3000-meter steeplechase at the Stanford Invitational, March 30
  • Hustled for a fifth-place finish with a personal-best and school-record time of 10:01.14
  • On the 2018 outdoor performance list, King ranks first in the league and fifth in the NCAA
  • Currently ranked 21st in the world this season with that time
  • First-career Summit League Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Week award

Also nominated: Aniekeme Etim, Oral Roberts // Emma Rafuse, Fort Wayne // Alyssa Olin, North Dakota State // Ashley Thompson Ballew, South Dakota // Abigail Richter, Western Illinois

Previous Winners: Alyssa Olin, NDSU (March 20) // Macy Denzer, North Dakota State (March 27)


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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