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Broken Record: Top Track Marks Top Weekly Honors List
Northwest Nazarene's Payton Lewis (left) set a school record in the pole vault while Saint Martin's Shannon Porter bettered the school record in the 5,000 meters. Photos by Loren Orr.
Northwest Nazarene's Payton Lewis (left) set a school record in the pole vault while Saint Martin's Shannon Porter bettered the school record in the 5,000 meters. Photos by Loren Orr.

Monday, February 13, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – A quartet of school record performances in the lead-up to the GNAC Indoor Track and Field Championships, which included a GNAC record and a national record, top this week’s honor roll of GNAC Athletes and Players of the Week.

The list is led by Concordia’s McKenzie Warren, who was named the Women’s Field Athlete of the Week for the fourth time this season after she broke the NCAA Division II record in the indoor shot put. Her mark of 57 feet, 9.75 inches won the event at Saturday’s Husky Classic by nearly five feet and broke the Division II record of 57 feet, 7.75 inches, set by Ashland’s Adriene Blewitt in 2003. The mark is fourth in all college divisions, fifth in the U.S. and 15th in the world this season.

Northwest Nazarene’s Payton Lewis earned the Men’s Field Athlete of the Week after he reset his own school record in the pole vault at the Boise State Team Challenge. He finished second with a clearance of 17 feet, 4.5 inches. The mark is an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division II Championships and ties him for the third best mark in Division II this season.

Montana State Billings’ Sam Zook earned the Men’s Track Athlete of the Week award for the second time this season after he reset his own record in the 60 meters at the Mountain State Games. He won the event with a time of 6.85 seconds, the fastest time in the event by a GNAC athlete since December 3. The mark is second best in the conference this season and No. 4 on the GNAC’s all-time list.

Saint Martin’s Shannon Porter was named the Women’s Track Athlete of the Week after she automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 5,000 meters at the Husky Classic. She finished ninth in her heat with a school record time of 16:29.89. The time leads the GNAC, is fourth this season in Division II and is fifth on the GNAC all-time list.

This week’s basketball honorees are repeat selections. Alaska Anchorage’s Autummn Williams earned the Women’s Basketball Player of the Week award for the second consecutive week and the fourth time this season, posting back-to-back 30-plus point performances. Williams scored 34 points in the Seawolves’ win over Northwest Nazarene on Thursday and added 31 points in Saturday’s victory over Central Washington.

Western Washington’s Taylor Stafford earned his third Men’s Basketball Player of the Week award of the season after he led the Vikings to two wins to clinch a GNAC Championships berth. He scored 26 points in Thursday’s victory over Western Oregon and 21 points in a win over Concordia on Saturday.

On the diamond, Emily Benson of Western Washington was tabbed as the Softball Player of the Week after she hit .550 with 11 hits, six runs, three home runs and 10 RBIs as the Vikings went 5-1. She set WWU’s career home run record when she hit her 23rd in Friday’s win over Hawaii Hilo at the Dixie State Easton Classic. She also posted a 4 for 4 performance in Thursday’s 8-0 shutout of Western New Mexico.

Concordia Mattie Boucher was named the Softball Pitcher of the Week after she went 2-0 and compiled a 2.39 earned run average as the Cavaliers went 3-1. She earned the win in 2.2 innings of relief as the Cavaliers beat Western New Mexico at the Dixie State Easton Classic on Thursday, 8-6. She then threw five shutout innings to earn the win in a 3-0 blanking of Cal State San Bernardino on Friday, allowing three hits while stirking out two.

Montana State Billings’ Casey Merritt and Central Washington’s Jake Levin earned the conference’s first baseball awards of the season. Merritt was named Baseball Player of the Week after he went 7 for 11 with a double, two runs and a .727 slugging percentage in the Yellowjackets’ season-opening three-game series at Colorado Mines. Levin picked up the 1-0 victory in Central Washington’s season opener at Cal State East Bay on Saturday, allowing five hits and three walks with two strikeouts.

GNAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK SELECTIONS – WEEK 24

MEN’S BASKETBALL
Taylor Stafford
(Western Washington, G, 6-1, Sr., Chicago, Ill. – Univ. of Evansville): Stafford averaged 23.5 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals per game as the Vikings won both games and clinched a spot in the GNAC Championships. He led all scorers with 26 points on 9 of 19 from the field and 4 of 6 from three-point range in Thursday’s 73-63 win over Western Oregon, adding four rebounds, four assists and four steals. Stafford added a 21-point performance against Concordia on Saturday, connecting on 8 of 13 from the field to go along with six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Also Nominated: Coleman Wooten (Seattle Pacific), Cole Preston (Saint Martin’s), Kedar Wright (Simon Fraser), Jace Anderson (Montana State Billings), Spencer Svejcar (Alaska Anchorage), Maurice Jones (Northwest Nazarene), Latrell Wilson (Concordia).

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
Autummn Williams
(Alaska Anchorage, F, 5-10, Sr., Rochester, N.Y. – Univ. of Little Rock): Williams earned her fourth weekly honor of the season by scoring the first back-to-back 30-plus point games in Alaska Anchorage’s GNAC history. She exploded for 34 points in the Seawolves’ 78-70 win over Northwest Nazarene on Thursday, making 14 of 23 from the field to go along with four rebounds, three assists and five steals. She then finished with 31 points in a 69-48 win over Central Washington as she went 11 of 19 from the field and 7 of 9 from the free throw line to go with five rebounds and five assists. Also Nominated: Mercedes Victor (Saint Martin’s), Meg Wilson (Simon Fraser), Tia Briggs (Western Washington), Tiana Hanson (Montana State Billings), McKenna Walker (Northwest Nazarene), Kizzah Maltezo (Concordia).

MEN’S TRACK
Sam Zook
(Montana State Billings, Jr., Casper, Wyo. – Kelly Walsh): Zook lowered his own MSUB record in the 60 meters at the Mountain State Games, winning the event in a time of 6.85 seconds. The time is second in the GNAC this season (the fastest time in the conference since Dec. 3) and is No. 4 on the GNAC all-time list. Also Nominated: Logan Armstrong (Saint Martin’s), Joel Webster (Simon Fraser), Ebu Camara (Northwest Nazarene).

MEN’S FIELD
Payton Lewis
(Northwest Nazarene, Jr., Nampa, Idaho – Nampa Christian): Lewis broke his own school record in the pole vault and automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships at the Boise State Team Challenge with a clearance of 17 feet, 4.5 inches. The mark is the best in the GNAC this season, No. 2 on the GNAC all-time list and tied for third in Division II this season. Also Nominated: Brandon Pless (Western Washington), Nels Flanagan (Montana State Billings).

WOMEN’S TRACK
Shannon Porter
(Saint Martin’s, Sr., Vancouver, Wash. – Treasure Valley CC): Porter earned an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Championships in the 5,000 meters with her performance at the Husky Classic. She finished ninth in her heat with a school record time of 16:29.89, which leads the GNAC and is fourth in Division II this season. The mark also ranks fifth on the GNAC all-time list. Also Nominated: Paige Nock (Simon Fraser), Danielle McCormick (Alaska Anchorage), Brittany Grant (Western Washington), Josie Smiedala (Montana State Billings), Lexi Tubbs (Northwest Nazarene).

WOMEN’S FIELD
McKenzie Warren
(Concordia, Sr., Sandy, Ore. – Sandy): Warren set the Division II all-time record in the shot put at the Husky Classic, winning the event by nearly five feet in a Division I-laden field. Her mark of 57 feet, 9.75 inches bettered the old record of 57 feet, 7.75 inches set by Ashland’s Adriane Blewitt in 2003. The mark is the fifth best in the U.S. and 15th in the world this season. Also Nominated: Anna Paradee (Western Washington), Nice Loufoua (Northwest Nazarene).

SOFTBALL PLAYER
Emily Benson
(Western Washington, 1B, 5-10, Jr., West Richland, Wash. – Kamiakin): Benson helped lead the Vikings to a 5-1 week by batting .550 (11 for 20) with six runs, a double, three home runs and 10 RBIs. She set WWU’s career home run record on Friday when she hit her 23rd in the Vikings’ 7-4 win at Hawaii Hilo. She also went 4 for 4 with two runs and a RBI in Thursday’s 8-0 shutout of Western New Mexico. Also Nominated: Taylor Bussey (Western Washington), Kailyn Campbell (Central Washington), Heather Tracy (Montana State Billings).

SOFTBALL PITCHER
Mattie Boucher
(Concordia, P, 5-8, Sr., Chehalis, Wash. – W.F. West): Boucher picked up two wins as the Cavaliers went 3-1 in four games last week, compiling a 2.39 ERA in 14.2 innings. She earned the win in 2.2 innings of relief in a 8-6 win over Western New Mexico on Thursday, allowing one earned run on three hits with two strikeouts. She then threw five innings of shutout ball in a 3-0 win over Cal State San Bernardino on Friday, allowing two hits with three strikeouts. Also Nominated: Shearyna Labasan (Western Washington), Maddy Lincoln (Montana State Billings).

BASEBALL PLAYER
Casey Merritt
(Montana State Billings, OF, 5-9, Sr., Twin Falls, Idaho – Twin Falls): Merritt finished the Yellowjackets’ three-game set at Colorado Mines by going 7 for 11 with a double, two runs and a .727 slugging percentage from the lead-off spot. He went 3 for 4 in the opener on Friday and followed up with two hits in each of the remaining two contests.

BASEBALL PITCHER
Jake Levin
(Central Washington, P/IF, 6-5, Sr., Redmond, Wash. – Chapman Univ.): Levin earned the win in the Wildcats’ 1-0 season-opening shutout of Cal State East Bay on Saturday. In seven innings, Levin allowed hits hits and three walks, striking out two. Also Nominated: Byron Baker (Montana State Billings).

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