ELMHURST, Ill. – As the calendar turns to May and league championships sit just nine days away, three student-athletes were recognized as Summit League Track & Field Athletes of the Week Tuesday for their performances from April 25-29.
For the men, South Dakota's Chris Nilsen earned the weekly honor for his performances in the pole vault at the USD Twilight and Drake Relays. The sophomore from Kansas City, Mo., began the competition week with a victory in Vermillion—clearing a meet-best height of 18' 8.25"—before finishing second overall in Des Moines, Iowa, with an 18' 11.5" vault in the elite section.
Sharing the women's weekly accolade is Oral Roberts' Mercy Abire and USD's Makiah Hunt. Participating in both the long and triple jump events at the Bill Williams/Bob Laptad Invitational, Abire broke the school record in the former (21' 1.25") while also setting a season-best in the latter (42' 9"). Hunt competed in the vaulting events at USD and Drake, managing a second-place vault in Vermillion (13' 4.25") and first-place, personal-best mark in Des Moines (13' 9.25").
Chris Nilsen, SOUTH DAKOTA
So. // Kansas City, Mo.
- Competed at the USD Twilight and Drake Relays
- Finished first in Vermillion with an 18' 8.25" (5.70m) vault
- Placed second at Drake Relays, clearing a meet-best height of 18' 11.5" (5.78m)
- That mark is the highest ever cleared by a collegian in the 109-year history of Drake Relays
- At Drake, was the only collegian in the field and bested several Olympians in the elite pole vault
- Out-vaulted the Canadian and Argentinian pole vault record holders as well in Des Moines
- Continues to maintain the No. 1 spot on the NCAA's performance list this season
- Sixth-career Summit League Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Week honor
Also Nominated: Israel Nelson, Oral Roberts // Steffan Stroh, North Dakota State // Kyle Burdick, South Dakota State
Previous Winners: Payton Otterdahl, North Dakota State (March 20) // Matt Neururer, North Dakota State (March 27) // Chris Nilsen, South Dakota (April 3) // Austin Simpson, Oral Roberts (April 10) // Payton Otterdahl, North Dakota State (April 17) // Payton Otterdahl, North Dakota State (April 24)
Mercy Abire, ORAL ROBERTS
So. // Delta, Nigeria
- Competed at the Bill Williams/Bob Laptad Invitational
- Broke the ORU school record in the long jump with a 21' 1.25" (6.43m) leap
- Also recorded a season-best mark in the triple jump at 42' 9" (13.03m)
- Climbed to No. 10 on the 2018 NCAA performance list in the long jump
- Now ranks 26th in the NCAA this season in the triple
- Summit League's No.1 performer this season in the long and triple jump events
- Third-career Summit League Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Week honor (all this season)
Makiah Hunt, SOUTH DAKOTA
So. // Niagara Falls, Ontario
- Competed at the USD Twilight and Drake Relays
- Vaulted a then-personal best in Vermillion, finishing second at 13' 4.25" (4.07m)
- Bested that mark at Drake with a first-place vault of 13' 9.25" (4.20m)—a five-inch PR
- To earn the victory, won a jump-off over NDSU's Lauren Gietzsen
- Did not have a miss in the entire competition leading up to the final height in Des Moines
- Moved to No. 19 on the NCAA's performance list this season (No. 2 in The Summit League)
- First-career Summit Leauge Outdoor Track & Field Athlete of the Week honor
Also Nominated: Olivia Coleman, Fort Wayne // Stephanie Ahrens, Omaha // Maddy Nilles, North Dakota State // Michaela Busch, Western Illinois // Rachel King, South Dakota State
Previous Winners: Alyssa Olin, NDSU (March 20) // Macy Denzer, North Dakota State (March 27) // Rachel King, South Dakota State (April 3) // Mercy Abire, Oral Roberts (April 10) // Mercy Abire, Oral Roberts (April 17) // Maddy Nilles, North Dakota State and Stephanie Ahrens, Omaha (April 24)
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.