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NMU Athletics announces 2021-2022 Wildcat Awards

Women’s Swimmers and Divers named Team of the Year
 (NMU Graphic)
(NMU Graphic) (WLUC)
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 3:27 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - For the fourth straight year, the Northern Michigan University Athletic Department presents the Wildcat Awards.

TEAM OF THE YEAR

The NMU Women’s Swim and Dive Team was honored with the Team of the Year award after capturing the 2022 GLIAC Championship, the program’s second GLIAC title in three years.The team scored 856.5 points to claim gold. Heidi Billings (Fairbanks, Ala./Sports Science) grabbed GLIAC Women’s Freshman of the Year, while Coach Heidi Voigt earned Women’s Coach of the Year.The 50-yard backstroke, 400-yard IM, 200-yard medley relay, 400-yard medley relay, 400-yard free relay, and the 800-yard free relay records were all shattered by the 2021-22 team.The team also qualified all five relay teams to swim at the NCAA DII Swimming and Diving Championships. Pilar Pererllo Ferrer (Inca, Spain/Marketing) anchored these respective relays. Along with Pilar, Heidi Billings, Michaela Nelson (Sun Prarie, Wis./Biology), Donna Hannig (Salzgitter, Germany/Pre-Chiropractic) Jenna Joerger (Eagan, Minn./Nursing), and Becca Burrows (Grand Rapids, Mich./Psychology) earned All-America honors.Coach Voigt added, “I’m proud of the way these athletes were motivated to succeed and the way they motivated and supported each other through the season.”

ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

Makaylee Kuhn (Hilbert, Wis./Environmental Science) led the way for the Women’s Basketball team this season, ranking fourth in the league with 15.7 points per game. She also averaged over six rebounds a game, which was good for a top-10 mark across the GLIAC. Kuhn scored a season-best 30 points this year at Lake Superior State. It was the fifth time in her career she has hit the 30-point mark in a game. Kuhn also crossed the 1,000 career points milestone this season in just her third year in the Green and Gold while helping the Wildcats reach the GLIAC Tournament for the 11th straight season.

Max Bjorklund (Orono, Minn./Computer Science) completed his second season with Men’s Basketball after transferring in from Bemidji State. Bjorklund averaged 16.9 PPG, good for seventh-best in the conference. He was also third in the conference with a 45.1% 3PT percentage. This season, Bjorklund reached an impressive milestone, surpassing 1,000 career collegiate points. After an exciting overtime victory over Lake Superior State in the GLIAC Quarterfinals, NMU defeated rival Michigan Tech on their home floor to advance to the GLIAC Championship. The Green and Gold finished the season with an 18-12 record.

SCHOLAR ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

Sophomore Meghan Meyer (Ada, Mich./Mathematics and Secondary Education) is a member of the Volleyball team. She appeared in 26 matches and 98 sets for the ‘Cats. Meyer earned a spot on the 2021 GLIAC Volleyball All-Academic Excellence Team and Second Team All-GLIAC for her success on and off the court this past season.

Garret Lundteigen (Petoskey, Mich./Exercise Science) has been a contributing member of the Alpine Ski Team on and off the slopes this season. He saw four gold medal finishes this season, his most successful being at USCSA Midwest Regionals right here in Marquette. At USCSA Nationals Garret skied to fourth place during the slalom, earning him First Team All-America and First Team Scholar All-America honors.

GILDO CANALE OUTSTANDING SENIORS AWARD

Hilde Eide (Beitostoelen, Norway/Mechanical Engineering Tech) is a name that won’t be forgotten at NMU. She has been on the Women’s Nordic Ski Team for three years, and the NCAA Championship Team for two. She grabbed a CCSA Performance of the week title in February 2022. She has placed in the Top-5 multiple times this season, her most successful coming from the CCSA Regional Championships where she took home silver in the Women’s 15K Freestyle Mass Start. Hilde was also a member of the GLIAC Academic Excellence Team and the National Collegiate All-Academic Ski Team.

Kjetil Baanerud (Oslo, Norway/Business) had a significant impact on the Men’s Nordic Ski Team. He has been on the team for five years and has made the NCAA Championship team for all of them. At the 2022 NCAA Skiing Championships, he earned Second Team All-America for his performance in the 20K Freestyle, this was his third All-America recognition. During the season he had a consecutive winning streak of six races. Kjetil assisted his team in taking home the victories at the CCSA MTU Invite, CCSA Championships, and the NCAA Central Region Championships this season. He also earned a spot on the GLIAC Academic Excellence Team and the National Collegiate All-Academic Ski Team.

BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

Madeline Bittell (Minnetonka, Minn./Public Relations) was named to the Women’s Lacrosse GLIAC First Team for the second consecutive season. After setting several NMU records a season ago, Bittell rewrote the record books for the Wildcats again this season, setting a new benchmark for the program in goals (52), points (71), shots (124), and shots on goal (90). Bittell was also named GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week on March 21 after an eight-goal and one assist weekend leading the ‘Cats to road wins over Concordia-St. Paul and Upper Iowa. Bitell led the way for the ‘Cats this season, as they marked a 9-8 overall record.

Sophomore Reagan Olli (Gaylord, Mich./Sports Science) had an outstanding inaugural season for the Alpine Ski Team. At a USCSA race at Wild Mountain, Minn., she took home gold in the Slalom race. She followed this race with many podium finishes and snagged a spot at USCSA Nationals. At Nationals, Olli had a Second Team All-America recognition for her performance in the Slalom and earned a First Team Scholar All-America honor.

Eric Yun (Richmond Hill, Ontario/Psychology) has been climbing the leaderboard for the Men’s Golf Team this season. He had a stellar performance at the Walsh Invitational. In the third round of the tournament, he shot 3 under par (69) which aided his total score of 223. With the score, he earned a spot in the record books for the eighth-best 54-hole round. He saw four Top-25 performances this season.

NEWCOMERS OF THE YEAR

Freshman Crystal Walker (Portmore, Jamaica/Business Analytics) from the Track & Field team had an impressive first season with the Wildcats. Walker was named to the Indoor All-Region team in the 60m hurdles in her first season. On February 11, Walker ran the 60m hurdles in a time of 8.72 in a preliminary heat race, breaking the previous school record of 8.77 that she set earlier in the season. In the GLIAC Championships, Walker was named freshman field athlete of the meet with a third-place finish in the pentathlon along with top finishes in the long jump and 60m hurdles. Walker was also impressive in the outdoor season, running the 100m hurdles in a time of 14.16 at the GVSU Al Owens Classic, she hit the NCAA provisional mark of 14.21.

Heidi Billings (Fairbanks, Ala./Sports Science) had quite a debut at NMU. She claimed five GLIAC Swimmer of the Week awards and broke the school record in the 400-yard IM with a time of 4:21.92. She earned the title GLIAC Champion in the 200-yard Back, 100-yard Back, and the 400-yard Medley Relay. Billings also achieved her first All-America recognition finishing fifth in the 200-yard Back at the NCAA DII Swimming and Diving Championships.

In his Rookie season, hockey goaltender Charlie Glockner (Minnetonka, Minn./Sports Science) played in 17 games with a winning record of 7-5. In conference games, he had a 2.80 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. He earned CCHA Goalie of the Week, CCHA Rookie of the Month (Feb.), and a spot on the CCHA All-Rookie Team.

John Kerr (Lake Villa, Ill./Exercise Science) transferred into the Men’s Basketball program from St. Ambrose University. Kerr averaged 11.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, which was good for the fifth most boards in the GLIAC. Kerr also shot the ball at a top-5 clip, converting on 56.4% of his field-goal attempts. Between his time at St. Ambrose and with the Wildcats, Kerr eclipsed 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.

HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR

Hannah Alvis (Mattoon, Ill./Language Arts) is a member of the NTS Weightlifting team. When she is not training or competing, you can find her volunteering and being an active member of the community. Hannah is a member of SLFP and SAAC. She has also spent 100 hours volunteering at the pregnancy care clinic and Silver Creek Church. She brings her passion for weightlifting to her hometown of Mattoon, where she volunteers coaching youth clinics with her father. With her role as team captain, Hannah coordinates volunteer opportunities for the NTS Weightlifting team.

BRIAN FRANKS “TOO STRONG” AWARD

Pilar Pererllo Ferrer (Inca, Spain/Marketing) of the Women’s Swim and Dive team has had an ongoing shoulder injury for the past three years, but she persevered to success this season. Pilar carefully monitored and managed her training. She switched her primary events to ones of a shorter distance, broke through, and anchored all NMU relays at the NCAA DII Swimming and Diving Championships. She broke four records (200-yard Medley Relay, 400-yard Medley Relay, 400-yard Free Relay, and 800-yard Free Relay) and earned two All-America and two Honorary All-America awards at the Championships. She also grabbed gold at the GLIAC Championships in the 100-yard Free.

Nordic Skier Xavier Mansfield (Minneapolis, Minn./Computer Science) has put up quite a battle this season for the ‘Cats. In January, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Mansfield did not let this diagnosis stop him from qualifying for the NCAA Skiing Championships at the CCSA Regional Championships. Mansfield persevered through the 10K Classic Individual Start and earned second place. He had a long battle in the 20K Freestyle Mass Start but landed a spot in the Top-5. Mansfield earned the CCSA Performance of the week for the Regional Championship race. He was also honored with spots on the National Collegiate All-Academic Ski Team and GLIAC Academic Excellence Team.

BEST NATIONAL SCENE PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR

Ryland Shriver (Sacramento, Calif./Health & PE) is a sophomore NTS weightlifter. He placed first at the University National Championships, earning All-American honors. Shriver impressed this season, earning the bronze medal at the Inaugural Junior Pan Am Games. Shriver made the World Junior Championships team, having the top total weight for the Junior 109 weight category. In June 2021, Shriver won the Junior National Championships and earned All-America status.

At the NCAA DII Swimming and Diving Championships, Junior Ondrej Zach (Rudolfov, Czech Republic/Exercise Science) was crowned National Champion in the men’s 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 15:09.55. He broke his previous school record and finished more than four seconds ahead of the other competitors. Last year at the 2021 NCAA DII Swimming and Diving Championships, Zach was runner-up in this event.

BEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR

The Wildcat Football team had an electric Homecoming victory. The team was down 19-0 against Wayne State University and came back with 26 unanswered points to take the “W”.The comeback started late in the third quarter after the Warriors scored three touchdowns prior. A nine-play drive that took 4:14 of game time led to the first score for the ‘Cats. Daniel Riser (Ada, Mich./Accounting) then made a 24-yard field goal. The score was set at 19-11 with 3:24 left in the game. The game continued to go the Wildcats’ way. On the kickoff, Wayne State’s returner muffed the reception. Tyquan Cox (Chicago, Ill./Communication Studies) recovered the ball for NMU at the WSU 12-yard line. NMU saw the end zone four plays later. After a brief Warrior possession, the home team got the ball with 1:19 left in the game. When NMU snapped the ball to start the drive at the 50-yard line the play call was a DJ Stewart (Kimberly, Wis./Health & PE) run. The call was successful as Stewart took the ball down the side of the field for a Wildcat touchdown and the Homecoming Victory.

BEST PLAY OF THE YEAR

Hockey centerman Hampus Eriksson (Forsbacka, Sweden/Public Relations) had quite a night in the first game of the CCHA Quarterfinals. He faced off against his former team, Lake Superior State, to score a between-the-legs top-shelf goal. He widened the lead 3-0 for the ‘Cats. This play was featured on the next day’s SportsCenter Top-10 broadcast.

UPSET OF THE YEAR

Hockey won three times against a number one ranked team this season. Two of those wins came from a weekend sweep against the University of Minnesota - Duluth. Vincent de Mey (Los Angeles, Calif./Management) led the team on Friday in goals with two on the night, netting the eventual game-winner on an empty net at 18:28 of the contest. Hank Crone (Dallas, Tx./Athletic Coaching Education) added four points during the game on Saturday night. The ‘Cats posted 10-goals in this series.Northern also won 4-2 against the Mavericks of Minnesota State on Jan. 14. Andre Ghantous (Glendale, Calif./Applied Exercise Science), Ben Newhouse (Edina, Minn./Mathematics), and AJ Vanderbeck (Monument, Colo./Financial Management) found the back of the net in the second to secure the “W”. Rico DiMatteo (Brasher Falls, N.Y./Psychology) finished with 30 saves in the contest and a .938 save percentage en route to his 13th victory of the season.

TODD HONCH & LINDSAY GRIFFITH FAN OF THE YEAR

Ron Neaves is a major supporter of NMU Volleyball. He and his late wife, Barb, gave a significant donation to the team and have their names enshrined outside of the locker room. However, it is not monetary gifts that make Ron the Fan of the Year. He has a constant presence at every game, camera in hand. He provides Coach Lozier with photos of the players from the match prior to disburse to the student-athletes. During COVID, the team was only allowed two tickets per person at the final game of the season. Ron was able to attend the GLIAC Championship game and felt the presence of Barb the entire time. It meant the world to Coach Lozier and the team to give back to someone who has given so much to them.

MOST INFLUENTIAL/SUPPORTIVE ACADEMIC COMMUNITY MEMBER

Liz Wuorinen is the Associate Dean/Director of the School of Health and Human Performance and is in charge of the Athletic Coaching Education program. She provides volunteer coaching candidates to teams and makes herself available to meet with recruits. Coach Kyle Nystrom noted, “My players trust her and enjoy her as an instructor and a mentor”.

INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES OF THE YEAR

Isabela Cardoso (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Management) is a senior on the Women’s Soccer team. On October 8th, Cardoso helped lead the Wildcats to a 4-0 victory over Parkside. She found the back of the net twice in the contest, including a highlight-reel tally. On her second goal, Cardoso leaped into the air and bicycle-kicked the ball into the right corner of the net with her side parallel to the ground.

Max Bjorklund (Orono, Minn./Computer Science) completed his second season with Men’s Basketball after transferring in from Bemidji State. On February 26th, Bjorklund had the most recognizable performance this season and in recent memory for NMU Men’s Basketball, scoring 40 of his 46 points in the second half of the regular-season finale at nationally-ranked Ferris State to help will the Wildcats to a 93-87 victory against the GLIAC’s top defense, all while helping the ‘Cats earn the #3 seed in the GLIAC Tournament. He shot 14-15 from the field and 9-10 from three for the most dominant half in program history and one of the best halves in college basketball history. Bjorklund took home GLIAC North Player of the Week honors following that performance.

RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCE

At the 2022 NCAA DII Swimming and Diving Championships, Ondrej Zach (Rudolfov, Czech Republic/Exercise Science) shattered the NMU 1650-yard Free record. Zach pulled away from the field at the halfway mark and never looked back, winning by four seconds over the next fastest finisher. He was swimming at a time of 15:09.55. This broke the School Record that was previously held by him. This performance also broke the GLIAC Record which he held for his performance in 2021.

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