Northern Michigan University wraps its sports awards series
The Northern Michigan University Athletic Department presents the 2019-20 Wildcat Awards. This year, the awards will be presented through the next several days through social media and the official NMU Athletics website.
Awards will be presented through Monday, May 4, finishing with the the announcement of the Gildo Canale Outstanding Senior Award, Athletes of the Year, and Team of the Year.
TEAM OF THE YEAR
This year's Team of the Year was the NMU Women's Swim & Dive team. The team highlighted the 2019-20 Athletic season by claiming their first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship since 2002. The squad won a total of five events at the GLIAC's, led by senior Rachel Helm (Newcastle, England), who battled through shoulder injuries to win two events, the 200-yard Individual Medley and the 200-yard Backstroke. Junior Margaret Vaitkus (Munster, Ind.) captured the 50-yard Freestyle. Freshman Meritxell Font-Cantarero (Girona, Spain) took home the 200-yard Butterfly while freshman Michaela Nelson (Sun Prairie, Wis.) claimed the 100-yard Freestyle. As a result of the team's GLIAC Championship, Head Coach Heidi Vogt was named GLIAC Coach of the Year.
Nelson and Font-Cantarero also qualified for the NCAA Championships, along with junior Gabriella Spajic (Sydney, Australia) and freshman Jenna Joerger (Eagan, Minn.). Due to the cancellation of the NCAA Championships, these four, along with Vaitkus, and freshmen Amanda Baird (Riverside, Calif.) and Julianna Engesser (South Elgin, Ill.) all received College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America All-American recognition.
During the season, the Wildcats picked up 12 dual-meet victories, including two wins over Division I University of South Dakota. They also won the Calvin College Invitational, a yearly event that saw them beat eight other squads. During the season, the team set two new PEIF Pool records as well.
In the final CSCAA National Poll, the Wildcats were ranked #12.
GILDO CANALE OUTSTANDING SENIOR AWARD
A senior captain for the hockey team, Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minn.) made his mark on the program and Northern Michigan University as a whole during his four years here. A native of Duluth, Minnesota, Beaulieu cemented his name in the records books during his final season as he ranked second in assists among all defensemen. Named the 2018-19 WCHA Defenseman of the Year and a CCM/AHCA Second Team All-American the year prior, Beaulieu ended his career with the second-most career points among active defensemen (121 pts.). During his senior campaign he was named both a Hobey Baker Memorial Award nominee, awarded to the top collegiate hockey player, as well as on of 20 Senior CLASS Candidates. His 121 career points put him 17th all-time in Wildcat history while his 26 goals is seventh-best all-time. An alternate captain as a junior, Beaulieu was named team captain prior to the start of the 2019-20 season.
Katelyn Smith (Gaylord, Mich.) has been a member of the Cross Country and Track & Field teams throughout her career. She capped her Cross Country career by earning her second All-Region honors at the 2019 Midwest Regional this past fall, posting a season-best time of 21:38.0 to lead the Wildcat squad. At the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships, she earned her second, Second Team All-GLIAC recognition of her career.
Her freshman and sophomore seasons, she helped the team reach the NCAA Division II National Championships. On the track, she boasts the second-fast time in the 3,000 meter, and the 5,000 meter runs on both the indoor and outdoor tracks.
"Right away we saw her great work ethic, her positive attitude and her fun personality."
Winning two NCAA National Championships, Rachel Helm (Newcastle, England) will leave NMU as one of the most decorated athletes in NMU Swim & Dive history. She leaves NMU with five individual records and holds seven PEIF Pool records as well. She started her career earning GLIAC Female Freshman of the Year honors and followed it with GLIAC Female Swimmer of the Year her sophomore and junior season. She finished her GLIAC career with three records, 14 individual Championships and was a member of two relay wins. On the National stage, Helm become the first NMU swimmer to win a National Championship in nearly two decades when she touched first in the 100-yard Backstroke in her freshman season. The next year, she captured a Championship in the 200-yard Backstroke.
ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
Senior Lajos Budai (Kecskemet, Hungary) led the Men's Swim & Dive team with two victories at the GLIAC Championships by taking the 100-yard Backstroke and the 100-yard Freestyle. He was also the anchor on the winning 800-yard Freestyle Relay. Throughout the dual-meet season, he collected a total of 11 first place finishes. The senior aided two relays to records. The 400-yard Medley Relay set a school record with the 800-yard Freestyle Relay setting a new PEIF Pool record. Budai also led the men's team at the NCAA National Championships as he qualified for a team-best four races, 50-yard Freestyle, 200-yard Freestyle, 100 Back and the 100 Free. He would go on to earn All-American Honors from the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America in the 100 back and 100 free.
Senior Jessica Schultz (Mineral Point, Wis.) had a stellar season in her final year for the Women's Basketball team as she set records for blocks in a season, 48, and career blocks, 136. Her efforts helped guide the Wildcats to their eighth-straight Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament appearance. Against Purdue University Northwest, Schultz tallied the ninth-most points in a game in program history, reaching a career-high 36 points on 17-22 shooting. The senior finished the year with 21 games in double figures and achieved five double-doubles. Against Ferris State University, she reached 1,000 points in her career and finishes with 1,247 career points to put her 18th in program history. Her season finished with her earning First Team All-GLIAC and First Team All-Defense.
BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
From Football, freshman Tyquan Cox (Chicago, Ill.) was named Second Team All-GLIAC as a kick returner this season. Cox paced the GLIAC with 27.9 yards per kickoff return. He highlighted his debut season with a 99 yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Wayne State University for the longest return in the GLIAC this season. He also had a 54 yard return, a 45 yard return and a 43 yard return this season. He also added 14 rushes for 50 yards.
Senior Nicola Pasquire (Bedford, England) helped guide the Women's Swim & Dive team to a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships after earning points in four individual events along with one relay. She finished fourth in the 200-yard Freestyle and seventh in the 1,000-yard Freestyle, 500-yard Freestyle and 1,650-yard Freestyle. She also helped the 800-yard Freestyle Relay capture second. Throughout the season, she captured first in the 1,000 free at Saginaw Valley State University, was second in the 1,000 free against the University of Findlay and University of Wisconsin Green Bay, and fourth in the 500 free at the Dragon Invite.
Freshman Spencer Woods (Kotzebue, Alaska) clinched his first senior world gold-medal this November at the Malar Cupen in Västerås, Sweden. He finished with five wins, and no losses. Woods also placed second in the Bill Farrell International in New York, N.Y. in November. He was the highest placing American at 77kg, which qualified him for the Olympic Trials. He is the first Alaska man to qualify for the Olympic trials since Anchorage's Philip Johnston in 2008.
BEST PLAY OF THE YEAR
Senior Marcus Matelski (Boyne Fall, Mich.) hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give NMU Men's Basketball a 64-61 victory at rival Michigan Technological University. The Wildcats tied the score at 61-61 with 1:24 to play and neither team was able to take an advantage on the next three possessions. With three seconds left, the Wildcats took the ball out in front of their own bench and found sophomore Dolapo Olayinka (Chicago, Ill.). Olayinka took the ball and drove to the middle of the lane, which drew Matelski's defender. He then found Matelski wide open in the corner who hit the game-winner at the buzzer for the NMU win on the Tech home floor.
SCHOLAR ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
The winners of this year's Scholar Athlete of the Year were senior Eric Suess (Ludwigsburg, Germany) from the Men's Soccer team and senior Jamie Kimble (Prior Lake, Minn.) from Women's Swim & Dive.
BEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR
It is a tradition for the winning team at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Swimming & Diving Championships to jump in the pool. The NMU Women's Swim & Dive team did just that after they won the GLIAC Championships this season.
LINDSAY GRIFFITH & TODD "STIX" HONCH FAN OF THE YEAR
This year's winner goes to Kathy Andel. Kathy is well known at all NMU Athletic events, often after dying her hair green, where she cheers on all athletes wearing the green and gold. She always has a positive attitude and is supportive of each student-athlete, regardless of the result.
Every Wildcat fan has seen her smiling face around the Athletics campus.
NEWCOMERS OF THE YEAR
The female Newcomer of the Year was Volleyball freshman Lauren Van Remortel (Carmel, Ind.). Van Remortel finished the year leading the Wildcats with 1,085 assists in her debut season. She also tied for third on the team with 19 aces and fourth with 215 digs and 40 blocks. Against Ashland University in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Quarterfinals, she tallied 60 assists in a match to help the Wildcats pull off the 3-2 upset.
The male recipient was freshman Roberto Camera (Rozzano, Italy). Camera highlighted his rookie campaign with a first-place finish in the 100-yard Breaststroke at the GLIAC Championships. He qualified for the 50-yard Freestyle plus the 100 & 200-yard Breaststroke for the NCAA Championships that were cut short. The freshman went on to earn Honorary All-American honors as a part of the 200-yard Freestyle Relay and with the 400-yard Medley Relay.
HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR
Sophomore Ryan Glover (Marquette, Mich.) was named this year's Humanitarian of the Year. This year, Glover has helped co-run an after school program at Cherry Creek Elementary School called Kids for Change, a group that works with UPAWS and local nursing homes. He also volunteers at local homeless shelter, Room at the Inn, covering overnight shifts where it can be hard to find help. Over the summer, he took his talents to help out with the Bay Cliff Therapy Camp, serving as a swim instructor.
When asked what this award would mean to him, he is hesitant to accept. "I don't really think I need an award at all," he said. "The way I look at it, all the hours I've logged volunteering have been paid for by the Marquette community that has given me every opportunity I need to succeed. I've also been very proud of the work our community does to those who need help, and I'm just glad to give back however I am able to."
BIGGEST UPSET OF THE YEAR
Looking to return to the GLIAC Semifinals for the second straight year, the NMU Men's Basketball team had to pull off a huge upset, defeating top-seeded and nationally ranked #11, Ferris State University, on their home floor in the Quarterfinals. With a 70-69 victory, the squad pulled off the upset.
The Wildcats faced a 36-31 deficit at the half but outscored the Bulldogs 39-33 in the second half. Senior Sam Taylor (Chicago, Ill.) gave NMU a 59-57 lead with 7:23 to play for the team's first lead since scoring the first basket of the game. The hosts retook the lead with two minutes left but sophomore Dolapo Olayinka (Chicago, Ill.) sank three free throws with 51 seconds left to give NMU a 66-65 lead.
Olayina then added a layup and Taylor made two free throws to make the score 70-66 with 12 seconds remaining. Ferris State hit a three with six seconds left and had a chance to take the win but their last second shot was missed to give NMU Men's Basketball the 70-69 upset win.
BEST PERFORMANCE ON THE NATIONAL SCENE
National Training Site athletes Alston Nutter and Taylor Turner earned the Best Performance on the National Scene Award.
Freshman wrestler Alston Nutter (Fennimore, Wis.) competed in the 63 kg weight class and faced Kamil Czarnecki of Poland in the bronze-medal match. Czarnecki was up 6-0 over Nutter before Nutter was able to throw and secure his win with a pin with 4:44 left on the clock. Alston was on the Jr. World Team last year as well and finished in 27th place. He qualified for the team in 2019 but in the World Team Trials he qualified in five matches, none of which made it past the first round. (He is also qualified to compete in the Olympic Trials)
Senior Taylor Turner (St. Augustine, Fla.) is ranked #1 in the country at 59kg. She won the American Open Finals which put her on the world team but was not able to attend. Turner also competed in Switzerland at the Challenge 210 competition and placed second overall and first in the clean and jerk (second total, second snatch). She won the American open finals as well to earn a spot on the Senior Pan American Team and will compete once it's rescheduled.