Early Provisional Marks Earn Athlete Of The Week Honors
CWU's E'lexis Hollis ran the second-fastest 60-meters time in GNAC history at 7.38 seconds.
CWU's E'lexis Hollis ran the second-fastest 60-meters time in GNAC history at 7.38 seconds.

Monday, December 11, 2023
by Evan O'Kelly, Assistant Commissioner For Communications

PORTLAND, Ore. – Central Washington’s E’lexis Hollis and Emy Ntekpere started their 2023-24 indoor track and field season with a bang on Saturday, posting a pair of NCAA provisional qualifying marks to give the Wildcat women a sweep of the GNAC Athlete of the Week awards.

Hollis’s time of 7.38 seconds in the 60 meters was not only the second fastest by any Division II runner in the young season, but it was the second fastest time in the history of the GNAC. Ntekpere meanwhile cleared a bar set at 1.74 meters (5-8.5) to record the second-best high jump in Division II and the sixth-best in GNAC indoor history.

“It was a great start to the season, and everything we do is process oriented,” said first-year CWU head coach Jonathan Hill.


Athlete of the Week – E’lexis Hollis, Central Washington

Hollis already had the second-fastest 60-meter time in GNAC history with her mark of 7.44 seconds in 2023. She shaved 0.06 second off of that at the Spokane Invitational, finishing just 0.05 off the GNAC record of 7.33 seconds held by Simon Fraser’s Marie-Eloise Leclair (2022). Hollis won the event by 0.08 seconds ahead of Cal Poly Pomona’s Ayana Fields (7.46), before running a leg on CWU’s 4x400 meter relay team that notched a time of 4:19.79.

“I am just as pleased with the win as I am with the time,” said Hill. “She competed well and handled herself well for her first race of the year. There is always one box you’re trying to check, which is qualifying for the NCAA Championships, and we are happy that she has a mark that we think will stand. You can’t win the championship today, but you can focus on your execution and putting things we have worked on into practice. We talk about changing one variable at a time, and this time it was adding competition with her first meet.”

Also Nominated: Katelyn Hamill, MSUB.


Athlete of the Week – Emy Ntekpere, Central Washington

Ntekpere also had a strong showing at her first meet of the season, topping a field of 31 competitors in the high jump. Her mark came on her final attempt at the height of 1.74 meters as she was the only athlete in the meet to attempt a height of 1.77 meters. The freshman also posted a time of 9.33 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles and ran a leg on CWU’s 4x400-meter relay team.

“Emy is an example of a great athlete learning how to do her event with deliberate intent,” said Hill. “She’s learning how to high jump the Central Washington way, and this was a great performance. We challenged her in a lot of ways having her do the hurdles and 4x4, and she rose to the challenge. I see great potential in her.”

Also Nominated: Grace Jones, MSUB; Destany Herbert, Northwest Nazarene.


Athlete of the Week – Brody Kemble, Northwest Nazarene

After a successful season leading the NNU cross country team, Kemble kicked off his indoor season with a strong performance in the 5,000 meters. The sophomore clocked a time of 14:55.12 to finish as the runner-up by less than three seconds among a field of 20 competitors. It was his top collegiate indoor 5,000-meter time, and was just over four seconds off his overall PR of 14:50.96 in the event which he ran last April during the outdoor season. "It was neat to see him take control of what he wanted to achieve," said NNU head coach Danny Bowman. "This race was a good indicator of where he is currently and what he needs to do over break to continue to reach his goals."

Also Nominated: Kaleb Scott, MSUB.


Athlete of the Week – Justin Conklin, Western Oregon

Conklin emerged victorious in his 2023-24 debut, topping a field of 12 competitors in the high jump at the Spokane Invitational. The senior cleared 2.00 meters (6-6.75) on his first attempt last Saturday, getting his season started with a personal best. “Justin has been working hard this fall, and he seems really driven to be successful,” said WOU head coach Octavious Gillespie-Bennett. “It is always hard for a high jumper to keep composure when the bar gets to your PR. He was able to hold everything together, and I think there is a lot more in there.”                                                                     

Also Nominated: Christopher Hines, CWU; Isaac Perkins, MSUB.


Player of the Week – Kola Bad Bear, Montana State Billings

Bad Bear sparked the Yellowjackets to a pair of non-conference victories last week, putting together dominant performances on both sides of the ball. Bad Bear notched a 21-point, 12-rebound double-double in MSUB’s 69-46 win over Rocky Mountain College, after recording 17 points and a season-high seven assists in the team’s 76-56 win over Montana Western. Overall in the two-game sample, Bad Bear led all GNAC players with 38 total points, averaged 8.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and shot 60.0% (15-for-25). “Kola is having an outstanding season and continues to improve each week,” said MSUB head coach Kevin Woodin. “She is getting more comfortable with her teammates on the court and has fit in very well to our program. Kola is an unselfish player with a great understanding of the game and is impacting the game on both ends for us. I have been so impressed with her versatility, leadership, and team first attitude.”

Also Nominated: Senya Rabouin, UAA; Cali McClave, WOU.


Player of the Week – Nic Welp, Western Washington

Leading the Vikings to a 124-70 blowout of Langara, Welp was a force in the paint both offensively and defensively. The junior had season highs of 20 points and 15 rebounds, marking the second-highest rebounding single-game total by any GNAC player this season. Welp also chipped in three assists, a block and a steal while making 8 of 10 shots including 3 of 4 3-pointers. Welp is averaging 9.4 points per game and ranks sixth in the conference with 6.9 rebounds per game. “Nic has been working really hard at being consistent,” WWU head coach Tony Dominguez said. “He has done a good job all year and has high expectations for himself, and Saturday he showed a concerted effort to increase his intensity level. He has a high I.Q. and allows us to function well on both ends of the court.”

Also Nominated: Maverick Sanders, CWU; Zharon Richmond, MSUB; Kaden Hansen, SMU.