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Ackerman, Meyer Named Outdoor Track Athletes Of Year
Ackerman (left) placed fourth at the NCAA Championships in the javelin. Meyer won the 100-meter hurdles, long jump and heptathlon at the GNAC Championships.
Ackerman (left) placed fourth at the NCAA Championships in the javelin. Meyer won the 100-meter hurdles, long jump and heptathlon at the GNAC Championships.

Monday, June 7, 2021

PORTLAND, Ore. – After a pair of seasons that solidified their places as among the tops in conference history, Montana State Billings’ senior Beau Ackerman and Seattle Pacific senior Renick Meyer have been named the Athletes of the Year to lead voting for the GNAC 2021 outdoor track and field special awards.

Ackerman was selected by coaches as the Male Athlete of the Year after earning his second All-American trophy in the javelin and firmly establishing himself as one of the top athletes in GNAC history in the event. Meyer was named the Female Athlete of the Year after she won three events at the GNAC Championships, including the heptathlon, and led the Falcons to their third consecutive conference title.

Seattle Pacific took three of the four women’s special awards. Middle-distance standout Ellie Rising was selected as the Freshman of the Year while Karl Lerum was the unanimous selection for Coach of the Year. Western Oregon sophomore Caitlin Heldt was the unanimous selection for Female Newcomer of the Year.

Western Washington collected the other three men’s awards. Senior Calahan Warren was the unanimous selection for Newcomer of the Year. Steeplechase champion Jeret Gillingham was named the Freshman of the Year and Pee Wee Halsell was the unanimous selection for Coach of the Year.

Ackerman became just the fourth athlete in GNAC history to throw over 230 feet in the javelin, surpassing the barrier with a throw of 232 feet, 11 inches at the Battlin’ Bear/Yellowjacket Open on April 1. He did that one throw better at the GNAC Championships, setting the meet record with his winning mark of 233 feet, 7 inches. Ackerman went on to place fourth at the NCAA Championships with a mark of 231 feet 10 inches, earning his second All-American trophy.

Ackerman’s best of 233 feet, 7 inches, ranks No. 2 on the GNAC All-Time List and ranked third in Division II this season. In addition to his efforts at the conference and national meets, Ackerman won the collegiate javelin section at the prestigious Drake Relays for the second time in his career.

Meyer was named the GNAC Championships Female Field Athlete of the Meet after she won the 100-meter hurdles, long jump and heptathlon. She also placed third in the 100 meters and ran legs on the Falcons’ winning 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relay teams. She scored 36 points in the meet and, when coupled with the relays, played a role in 56 of SPU’s 208 total points. For her career, Meyer has scored 94 points (excluding relays) at the GNAC Championships, ranking her fifth all-time.

Meyer’s winning time of 13.97 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles at the GNAC Championships ranks No. 3 on the GNAC All-Time List while her near-record effort of 19 feet. 7.5 inches to win the long jump was named the Women’s Performance of the Meet. She was an NCAA Championships provisional qualifier in 100-meter hurdles, long jump and heptathlon.

Ackerman is the first Montana State Billings athlete, male or female, to win the outdoor track and field Athlete of the Year award. Meyer is the seventh Seattle Pacific athlete to win the Female Athlete of the Year honor.

Warren, who transferred to Western Washington from Embry-Riddle (Fla.), earned All-American honors with a sixth-place finish in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Championships in a time of 3:53.68. He was the GNAC champion in the 1,500 meters, placed second in the 800 meters and was ninth in the 5,000 meters. He ended the season ranked third on the GNAC All-Time List in the 1,500 meters with his season-best of 3:44.82 while ranking sixth in the 5,000 meters (14:16.17) and 10th in the 10,000 meters (29:55.17) and was an NCAA Championships provisional qualifier in all three events.

Heldt finished her first season at Western Oregon by taking second at the GNAC Championships in the 10,000 meters in a time of 37:13.13. It was her first collegiate race at the distance. Earlier in the season, Heldt set the WOU record in the 5,000 meters with a time of 17:08.22 that was also an NCAA Championships provisional qualifying time.

Gillingham made his mark in the steeplechase, saving his best effort for last as he won the event at the GNAC Championships in a time of 8:55.30. The performance was tied for 15th best in Division II this season and ties him for fourth on the GNAC All-Time List. Gillingham augmented his steeplechase performance at the conference meet with a fifth-place finish in the 1,500 meters.

Rising made her presence known at the GNAC Championships with her winning performance in 800 meters, taking the gold medal in a time of 2:12.16, four seconds better than second place. Rising went on to place second in the 1,500 meters and ran a leg on the Falcons’ winning 4x400-meter relay team. Her season-bests of 2:11.91 in the 800 meters and 4:37.54 in the 1,500 meters were fourth-best in the conference this season.

Halsell won his eighth all-time GNAC Men’s Coach of the Year and his ninth between the two genders. Halsell guided the Vikings to their second consecutive GNAC championship, and the eighth in program history, with a record-setting score of 289 points. Western Washington had champions in 11 of the meet’s 21 events. Halsell was also named the USTFCCCA West Region Coach of the Year. Between indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country, Halsell has won 22 GNAC Coach of the Year awards.

Lerum was named Women’s Coach of the Year for the 10th time and has won a total of 19 Coach of the Year awards between women’s indoor and outdoor track and field. Lerum led the Falcons to their third consecutive GNAC championships and fifth over the last seven years. Seattle Pacific also won 11 of the meet’s 21 events led by Meyer’s three victories and two for senior Dania Holmberg.

2021 GNAC OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD SPECIAL AWARDS
MEN
Athlete of the Year: Beau Ackerman, Montana State Billings
Coach of the Year: Pee Wee Halsell, Western Washington
Freshman of the Year: Jeret Gillingham, Western Washington
Newcomer of the Year: Calahan Warren, Western Washington

WOMEN
Athlete of the Year: Renick Meyer, Seattle Pacific
Coach of the Year: Karl Lerum, Seattle Pacific
Freshman of the Year: Ellie Rising, Seattle Pacific
Newcomer of the Year: Caitlin Heldt, Western Oregon

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