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Season-Opening Softball Standouts Lead Weekly Honors
Heather Tracy (left) hit .550 in the Yellowjackets' five games. Lincoln went 3-1 in five appearances in the circle.
Heather Tracy (left) hit .550 in the Yellowjackets' five games. Lincoln went 3-1 in five appearances in the circle.

Monday, February 5, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – Montana State Billings went 4-1 to open the 2018 softball season at their own Desert Stinger in Las Vegas. The Yellowjackets’ two top performers in the tournament lead this week’s GNAC Player of the Week honorees.

Senior outfielder Heather Tracy was named the Softball Player of the Week after she hit .550 in the five games with 11 hits, 11 runs, three home runs and seven RBIs. She also earned Desert Stinger All-Tournament Team honors. Tracy opened her season by going 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs in a 14-0, five-inning win over Mary on Friday. She made her biggest mark in Saturday’s 8-5 win over Colorado Christian as she tied a GNAC single-game record with three home runs and finished going 3 for 4 with four runs and five RBIs.

Sophomore Maddy Lincoln earned Pitcher of the Week accolades after she went 3-1 in five appearances in the tournament. She allowed five runs, three earned, in 11 hits with 12 strikeouts in 16.1 innings of work. Lincoln threw a complete-game one-hitter in the opening 14-0, five-inning win over Mary before earning her final two wins in relief. She returned on Friday to earn the victory in an 8-6 win over Academy of Art, allowing one walk and striking out two in 1.2 innings. Lincoln then threw 3.2 innings of relief to beat Colorado Christian on Saturday, allowing one unearned run on two hits.

Simon Fraser earned a sweep of the conference’s weekly track awards. Senior Vladislav Tsygankov earned Men’s Track Athlete of the Week honors after he won the 400 meters at the Hillsdale Wide Track Classic in Michigan. His time of 48.78 seconds won by nearly a second and, after conversion to 48.02 seconds for track size, ranks No. 14 in Division II this season. Tsygankov also earned an NCAA Championships provisional qualifier in the long jump, placing second with a mark of 23 feet, 2.75 inches.

Senior Alana Mussatto notched Women’s Track Athlete of the Week selection for her winning 800-meter performance at Hillsdale. Her time of 2:11.18 won by over three seconds. An NCAA Championships provisional qualifier, the time is No. 5 in Division II this season after conversion to 2:09.69 for track size.

Northwest Nazarene senior John Van Beuren was named the Men’s Field Athlete of the Week for his two school-record performances at the Jacksons Invitational. On Friday, Van Beuren won the weight throw with a record mark of 60 feet, 5.25 inches. That also ranks No. 5 on the GNAC All-Time List and No. 22 in Division II this season. He returned on Saturday to place second in the shot put. His record mark of 53 feet, 7 inches, is No. 4 on the GNAC All-Time List.

Central Washington’s HarLee Ortega was named the Women’s Field Athlete of the Week for her second-place finish in the pentathlon at the WSU Cougar Indoor. The score of 3,630 points moves her up to No. 7 in Division II this season and No. 5 on the GNAC All-Time List. Ortega finished in the top-three in four of the five events, which included a second-place finish in the long jump (18-3).

The Wildcats’ Jawan Stepney earned Men’s Basketball Player of the Week honors after he averaged 17.5 points per game in a pair of wins that extended CWU’s win streak to five games. He finished with 21 points and four rebounds in the Wildcats’ 92-81 win over rival Western Washington on Thursday and then led five CWU players in double figures with 14 points to go with three rebounds and five assists in Saturday’s 81-67 win over Simon Fraser.

Alaska Anchorage’s Shelby Cloninger was selected as the Women’s Basketball Player of the Week after she averaged 18 points and eight rebounds in two wins. She led the Seawolves with 15 points on 5 of 10 from the field and six rebounds in Tuesday’s 63-46 win over Alaska. She then notched a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds in Saturday’s 73-63 victory over Montana State Billings.

Northwest Nazarene freshman Haden Keller picked up the first GNAC Baseball Player of the Week award of the season. Keller hit the go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning of his first collegiate game and then robbed Stanislaus State of a potential three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to lead the Nighthawks to a 10-8 win over the Warriors on Saturday.

GNAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK SELECTIONS – WEEK 23
MEN’S BASKETBALL
Jawan Stepney
(Central Washington, G, 6-4, Sr., Kent, Wash. – Cochise College): Stepney averaged 17.5 points per game in two contests as the Wildcats extended their current win streak to five games. Stepney finished with 21 points and four rebounds, shooting 9 of 16 from the field, to help lead the Wildcats to a 92-81 win over Western Washington in Thursday’s Division II Basketball Showcase game on ESPN3. He then led five CWU players scoring in double figures with 14 points to go with three rebounds and five assists in Saturday’s 81-67 win over Simon Fraser. The two wins allowed the Wildcats to move into a tie for fourth place in the GNAC standings. Also Nominated: Christopher Edward (Concordia), Kendall Denham (Montana State Billings), Maurice Jones (Northwest Nazarene), EJ Boyce (Saint Martin’s), Kedar Salam (Simon Fraser), Riley Hawken (Western Oregon), Daulton Hommes (Western Washington).

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
Shelby Cloninger
(Alaska Anchorage, F, 6-0, Sr., Kamiah, Idaho – North Idaho JC): Cloninger averaged 18 points and eight rebounds in two games as the Seawolves collected home wins over Alaska and Montana State Billings. She led UAA with 15 points on 5 of 10 from the field and 3 of 4 from three-point range to go with six rebounds and two steals to beat the Nanooks 63-46 on Tuesday. Cloninger then led all scorers with 21 points on 7 of 13 from the field to go with 10 rebounds in the 73-63 win over the Yellowjackets on Saturday. Also Nominated: Alexia Pana (Central Washington), Danielle Hartzog (Concordia), Alisha Breen (Montana State Billings), McKenna Walker (Northwest Nazarene), Saniah Simpson-Patu (Saint Martin’s), Tayla Jackson (Simon Fraser), Kelsey Rogers (Western Washington).

MEN’S TRACK
Vladislav Tsygankov
(Simon Fraser, Sr., Moscow, Russia - 1521) Tsygankov established NCAA Championships provisional qualifying marks in both the 400 meters and the long jump at the Hillsdale Wide Track Classic. He won the 400 meters by nearly a second with a time of 48.78 seconds. After conversion to 48.02 for track size, he ranks No. 14 in Division II this season. Tsygankov then placed second in the long jump, his first competition in the event this season, with a mark of 23 feet, 2.75 inches. The performance is 38th in Division II this season. Also Nominated: Daniel Calderon (Central Washington), Sam Zook (Montana State Billings), Cordell Cummings (Western Washington).

MEN’S FIELD
John Van Beuren
(Northwest Nazarene, Sr., Boise, Idaho – Centennial): Van Beuren hit school records in both the shot put and weight throw to lead the Nighthawks at the Jacksons Invitational. On Friday, Van Beuren won the weight throw with a record mark of 60 feet, 5.25 inches. The performance is also No. 5 on the GNAC All-Time List and No. 22 in Division II this season. He added a second-place finish in the shot put. His school-record mark of 53 feet, 7 inches, is No. 4 on the GNAC All-Time List. Both marks are NCAA Championships provisional qualifiers. Also Nominated: Armando Tafoya (Central Washington), Nels Flanagan (Montana State Billings), Peter Behncke (Simon Fraser).

WOMEN’S TRACK
Alana Mussatto
(Simon Fraser, Sr., North Vancouver, B.C. – St. Thomas Aquinas): Mussatto moved up to No. 5 on the Division II season-best list as she set a meet record in the women’s 800 meters at the Hillsdale Wide Track Classic. She won the race by over three seconds with a time of 2:11.18. After conversion for track size to 2:09.69 for track size, Mussatto is just short of the automatic qualifying mark for the NCAA Championships. Also Nominated: Mariyah Vongsaveng (Central Washington), Michaela Johnson (Montana State Billings), Hannah Bradley (Western Washington).

WOMEN’S FIELD
HarLee Ortega
(Central Washington, Sr., Payette, Idaho): Ortega improved her NCAA Championships provisional qualifying mark in the pentathlon, placing second in the event at the Cougar Indoor. Her score of 3,630 points moves her up to No. 7 in Division II this season and No. 5 on the GNAC All-Time List. In the process, Ortega placed second in the long jump (18-3) and third in the shot put (34-0), 60-meter hurdles (8.57) and high jump (5-3). Also Nominated: Hannah Nessan (Montana State Billings), Holly Taylor (Simon Fraser), Chantelle Eddy (Western Washington).

SOFTBALL PLAYER
Heather Tracy
(Montana State Billings, OF, 5-8, Sr., Boise, Idaho – Capital): Tracy led the Yellowjackets to a 4-1 record at their own Desert Stinger tournament in Las Vegas as she hit .550 in the five games with 11 hits, 11 runs, three home runs and seven RBIs. She had three hits in three of the five games. Tracy went 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs in the opening 14-0, five-inning win over Mary on Friday. She then tied the GNAC single-game record with three home runs in Saturday’s 8-5 win over Colorado Christian as she went 3 for 4 with four runs and five RBIs. Also Nominated: Savannah Egbert (Central Washington), Elena Cook (Concordia), Cassidy Fifield (Northwest Nazarene), Lauren Diuco (Saint Martin’s), Lizzet Dominguez (Western Oregon), Shearyna Labasan (Western Washington).

SOFTBALL PITCHER
Maddy Lincoln
(Montana State Billings, LHP, 6-1, So., Olympia, Wash. – Capital): The sophomore went 3-1 in the Yellowjackets’ five games at the Desert Stinger, allowing five runs, three earned, on 11 hits while striking out 12. She allowed just one hit and struck out six in Friday’s season-opening 14-0, five-inning shutout of Mary. She returned to earn the win in relief in Friday’s 8-6 win over Academy of Art, allowing one walk and striking out two in 1.2 innings. Her third win also came in relief as she allowed one unearned run on two hits with a walk and a strikeout in 3.2 innings in Saturday’s 8-5 win over Colorado Christian. Also Nominated: Mckenzie Smith (Concordia), Kim Nelson (Saint Martin’s), Ryanne Huffman (Western Oregon).

BASEBALL PLAYER
Haden Keller
(Northwest Nazarene, OF, 5-11, Fr., Minden, Nev.): Keller provided the go-ahead two-run home run in the seventh inning of his third collegiate game and then had a big defensive play as he made a catch to rob Stanislaus State of a potential three-run homer to help lead the Nighthawks to a 10-8 win over the Warriors to conclude a three-game season-opening series. Also Nominated: Jaden Hassell (Central Washington).

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