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Northern Michigan University completes 2020-2021 Sports Awards

Courtesy: NMU
 (NMU Graphic)
(NMU Graphic) (WLUC)
Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 3:03 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Northern Michigan University Athletic Department presents the 2020-21 Wildcat Awards. For the second straight year, the awards were presented exclusively through the NMU Athletics website and social media accounts.

The awards were announced over several days and the final day of announcements, Friday, July 2, featured the unveiling of the Gildo Canale Outstanding Seniors Award, Athletes of the Year Award, and the Team of the Year honor.

TEAM OF THE YEAR

NMU Volleyball was named the Wildcat Award winner for the 2020-21 Team of the Year. The biggest highlight of their season was capturing both the 2020-21 GLIAC Regular Season and Tournament Championships. It was the fifth GLIAC Tournament title in program history and the first since 2003.

Jacqueline Smith won the GLIAC Freshman of the Year award and head coach Mike Lozier took home the GLIAC Volleyball Coach of the Year honor. Smith, sophomore Lauren Van Remortel, and freshman Meghan Meyer all made the team. The three student-athletes named to the All-GLIAC First team are the most for NMU since 1998.

Junior Lizzy Stark made the All-GLIAC Second Team while fellow junior Alli Yacko made the Honorable Mention Team. The five total all-conference team members tie the team-high mark set in 2003.

Starting February 20 and going through the end of March, the Wildcats won 11 straight matches, with four-straight 3-0 wins during that streak. NMU concluded the 2020-21 campaign with a 15-2 overall record and 12-2 conference mark.

The Wildcats finished the year ranked No. 18 in the AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 Women’s Poll.

GILDO CANALE OUTSTANDING SENIORS AWARD

Caro Els’s career made a mark on the women’s golf program that will not soon be forgotten and earned her the female 2020-21 Gildo Canale Outstanding Senior Award. She has been on the team for five years and has qualified for the NCAA East Regional all four years it occurred during her college career. In 2019 Els made the NCAA National Championship where she represented the Wildcats. The senior was named to the All-GLIAC First Team this year for the second time in her career as she also earned the award in 2018-19. Els was named to the all-conference second team in 2019-20 and 2017-18. She holds three program records with a 69 individual score on 18 holes, a 222 score on 54 holes, and a 76.87 season stroke average in 2016-17.

Zak Ketterson of Nordic skiing took home the male 2020-21 Gildo Canale Outstanding Senior Award after an impressive NMU career. He joined the team as a freshman in 2016-17 and collected three All-America honors in his time with the Wildcats and qualified for four NCAA National Championships. Ketterson had the top NCAA finish of his career this season with a fourth-place finish in the 20K freestyle. He has also qualified for the World Junior/U23 World Championships three times.

ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

Senior forward and captain of the 2020-21 hockey team, Joseph Nardi was named male Athlete of the Year following his impressive year at center for the Wildcat program, including guiding them to a berth in the 2021 WCHA Championship game. Nardi led the team in points last season with 33 off 12 goals and 21 assists, coming just shy of reaching the century mark as he boasts 99 career points. The senior continuously led the NCAA in face-off wins, notching 396 draws in 29 games played. In four years with the Wildcats Nardi never missed a contest, skating in 149 career games. During his senior season, Nardi was named a Hobey Baker Memorial Award nominee while being named to the All-WCHA Second Team.

Female Athlete of the Year Caroline Halonen led the women’s soccer team in almost every statistical category in 2020-21 as she was No. 1 for the Wildcats in goals (11), points (23), shots (62), shots on goal (25), and game-winning goals (3). One of those game-winning goals came in the GLIAC Tournament semifinal against Ashland University which landed NMU in their first GLIAC Tournament Championship game in program history. The junior from Hartland, Mich. also made noise nationally, finding herself ranked second in NCAA Division II in total goals (11), fourth in total points (23), and seventh in goals per game (1). Halonen also collected some hardware as she was named a GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week in April and the GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year and to the All-GLIAC First Team during the conference tournament.

BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

Makaylee Kuhn, the female Breakthrough Athlete of the Year, made her presence known on the court in 2020-21, finishing fourth in the conference in total points and leading her team with 368. The Hilbert, Wis. native scored a career-high 39 points last year in a tilt with Purdue Northwest. That performance tied for the fifth-best in all of NCAA Division II during the 2020-21 season. She also hit 16 free throws in that game which was the second-best mark in DII. Just a sophomore, Kuhn was named to the All-GLIAC first team.

Alex Weaver was a force in the net for men’s soccer in 2020-21. This year’s male Breakthrough Athlete of the Year was the only goalkeeper to record playing time for the Wildcats this year and notched 37 saves. The sophomore had three shutouts, good for second in the GLIAC, which came in consecutive weeks during a 4-0 win streak for NMU. Weaver ended the season with a 4-3-1 record in the net and his save percentage of 75.5 was fourth in the GLIAC this season. He was named to the All-GLIAC Honorable Mention team at the end of the season.

BEST PLAY OF THE YEAR

The Wildcats of the NMU lacrosse team earned the Best Play award with a program-first.

At the end of regulation against GLIAC opponent Concordia-St. Paul the score was tied 15-15 inside the Superior Dome. After 3:30 of overtime action, a CSP player committed a foul which set up a free position shot for NMU. Freshman Katelyn Mongold delivered the shot into the back of the net, her first and only of the game, to give the Wildcats the 16-15 overtime victory.

It was the first victory over the Golden Bears in program history.

BEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR

NMU Volleyball showed up and showed out in their final GLIAC regular-season match of the year. Then No. 19 NMU welcomed Michigan Technological University, ranked No. 21 at the time, into Vandament Arena for a battle for the 2020-21 GLIAC Regular Season Championship.

A five-set thriller ensued in front of the fans in Marquette, in the first volleyball contest of the year at NMU that allowed fan attendance.

The Wildcats took home the win after GLIAC Freshman of the Year Jacqueline Smith scored the final point of set five on an unassisted kill. NMU celebrated its first GLIAC Regular Season Championship since 2003 on its home court.

SCHOLAR ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

The Scholar Athletes of the Year for 2020-21 were junior Kiera Hau of women’s soccer, senior Nina Augsten of track and field, senior Austin Gean of Olympic weightlifting, and senior Tobias Moosmann of Nordic skiing.

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