Heads Up Penney Leads Players Of The Week

Monday, February 5, 2024
by Evan O'Kelly, Assistant Commissioner For Communications

PORTLAND, Ore. – Propelling Simon Fraser to a pair of victories last week, senior guard David Penney headlined the latest list of Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week selections announced Monday.

Penney led the Red Leafs to a 74-72 road upset of No. 7 Saint Martin’s on Saturday, two nights after playing 40 minutes in his team’s 88-87 overtime win at Western Oregon.


Player of the Week – David Penney, Simon Fraser

First-career player of the week.

Penney averaged 17.5 points and 4.5 assists per game last week, while maintaining an assist-turnover ratio of 2.3 and shooting 57.1% from the field (12-for-21). Penney connected on 4 of 9 threes and 7 of 8 free throws last week, while chipping in six rebounds. In Thursday’s win over Western Oregon, Penney turned in his second-highest point total of the year with 21.

“He was so crafty all week, and I am really happy for him,” said SFU head coach Steve Hanson. “A lot of teams play under him and force him to take more shots than he’s used to. What’s most impressive is how well he rebounds the ball being one of the smaller players on the floor. He is our lone senior, and he has had a professional mindset for years. He never misses a day in the gym, and is a quiet leader for our team. It is evident in how he plays and how dedicated he is. He is the first guy in the gym and the last guy out, and that is the leadership we appreciate and expect from our point guards. This year he has had to step up a lot more on the scoring end, and that isn’t always the most natural thing for a pass-first point guard.”

Also Nominated: Dillon Barrientos, UAA; Abdullahi Mohamed, UAF; Samaad Hector, CWU; Jalen Tot, MSUB; Ryzin Bergersen, NNU; Kyle Greeley, SMU; Shaw Anderson, SPU; Cameron Benzel, WOU; Kai Johnson, WWU.


Player of the Week – Olivia Mayer, Seattle Pacific

First-career player of the week.

Mayer propelled the Falcons to a pair of victories last week, scoring 52 total points including a season-high 31 in SPU’s 73-71 win over Northwest Nazarene. The 12-for-17 shooting performance came two nights after she recorded a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double in a 76-65 triumph over Central Washington. Across the two games, Mayer led all GNAC players in scoring (26.0 ppg) and was fifth in rebounding (8.5 rpg) while shooting 57.6% from the floor. The junior upped her season scoring average to 15.1 points per game, ranking her eighth in the conference.

“She’s a sneaky, quiet scorer and she fills up the stat sheet in almost every game,” said SPU head coach Mike Simonson. “She can score in a variety of ways. Against NNU she was the hot hand in the fourth quarter, and she elevated and hit all the big shots to get us back into the game. She ultimately got us in a position to win that game in the end. This just shows you she has such a knack for impacting the game. At Whitworth she played the 5, and for us she is in a totally different role with a brand new style. Throughout the entire year she has found ways to affect the game in so many different areas. I’m so proud of her, because her game evolves week to week. Since she arrived at SPU she has really blossomed.”

Also Nominated: Senya Rabouin, UAA; Emma McKenney, UAF; Asher Cai, CWU; Kola Bad Bear, MSUB; Lauryn Morris, SMU; Sophia Wisotzki, SFU; Cali McClave, WOU; Brooke Walling, WWU.


Player of the Week – Cassidy Affeldt, Simon Fraser

Second-career player of the week, first this season.

Affeldt had a monster week at the plate in her 2024 debut, batting .571 with three home runs, two doubles and seven RBIs across SFU’s six games in New Mexico. Affeldt led all GNAC players in hitting, home runs, RBIs, and doubles, while ranking second in slugging percentage (1.095) and reaching base at a clip of .591. The highlight of her big week came against New Mexico Highlands on Saturday, when she went 3-for-3 with two home runs. Affeldt also tied for the most runs scored by a GNAC player (5) and stole a base to get her sophomore season off to a booming start.

“Coming off a pretty good freshman year, she had high expectations for herself,” SFU head coach Stacy Fournier said of the third baseman. “She put in a ton of work in the off-season physically and mentally. To see all of that come together over the weekend and her confidence at the plate was fun to watch. When she swings she always swings with intent, and when she hits it, she hits it hard.”

Also Nominated: Kate Hopkins, CWU; Teagan Seeton, MSUB; Clarissa Moreno, NNU; Olivia Matlock, SMU; Victoria Zimmerman, WOU; Hailey Rath, WWU.

Pitcher of the Week – Sidney Booth, Northwest Nazarene

Ninth-career pitcher of the week, first this season.

The GNAC’s career strikeout leader got her senior campaign off to a stellar start, earning the win in all three of the Nighthawks’ triumphs in California. Booth led all GNAC pitchers with 14 strikeouts and an opposing batting average of .138 across 16 1/3 innings pitched. The left-hander posted a 0.86 earned run average, which was crucial in NNU’s three one-run victories. In addition to her dominance in the circle, Booth had a profound impact offensively as well. In the eighth inning of a 2-2 game against Dominican on Saturday, Booth hit a two-out double to put the eventual winning run in scoring position. Later that day in a 1-1 game against Cal State Dominguez Hills, Booth punched a walk-off single up the middle with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

“She has been working really hard and is an incredible athlete,” said NNU head coach Rich Wagner. “The amount of work she has put in through injuries is amazing, and her desire to win and be successful for her teammates is what helps with her ability to make it through when she is tired. She came in and did a really good job for us in two of the games, and she shut the door in another. She got better as the week went, and in two of her last three innings she had her best stuff of the week. Being a fifth year and having the regional and postseason experience under her belt, she is here with something to prove in her last year. She really wants to help this team make it to the next level.”

Also Nominated: Ashlee Laver, CWU; Tia Ridings, SMU; Monica Bourque, SFU; Mackenzee Collins, WOU; Alli Kimball, WWU.


Athlete of the Week – Mark Warren, Western Oregon

First-career athlete of the week.

Warren cut loose the conference’s leading weight throw of the 2023-24 season with a mark of 57’ 6” (17.53 meters) at the Riverfront Invitational in Spokane, Wash. The PR toss was the seventh-best in WOU program history and was just two feet shy of an NCAA provisional qualifying mark. Warren also ranks fifth on the GNAC performance list in the shot put, after logging a toss of 46’ 4.25” (14.13 meters) last week.

Also Nominated: Wyatt Franklin, CWU.


Athlete of the Week – Ujunwa Nwokoma, Western Oregon

Third-career athlete of the week, first this season.

Nwokoma produced the seventh-best long jump in GNAC indoor history, clearing 19’ 0.75” (5.81 meters) at the George Fox Indoor meet on Sunday. The provisional qualifying mark slotted her 26th on the national list, and it was the fourth-best mark by any west region long jumper this season. Nwokoma also topped her own school record in the event by 0.75 inches.

Also Nominated: Emy Ntekpere, CWU; Lizzy Daugherty, SPU.


Athlete of the Week – Josh Green, Central Washington

First-career athlete of the week.

Green matched the fastest 200-meter time by a GNAC athlete this season, clocking in at 21.84 seconds at the Riverfront Invitational. The CWU school-record mark tied him with SFU’s Jesaiah Penson-McCoy atop the 2023-24 GNAC performance list. Green followed with a 200-meters time of 21.84 seconds, and ran a leg of the Wildcats’ 4x400-meter relay unit.

“Josh is absolutely a leader,” CWU head coach Jonathan Hill said on the freshman. “Despite just getting started, he entered the event group as a guy who wanted to be great at sprinting. He is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential to be a complete sprinter. He is learning really good skills on the track, and is applying them in races.”

Also Nominated: Nick Wong, NNU.


Athlete of the Week – Maliyah Thompson, Western Oregon

Second-career athlete of the week, first this season.

Thompson won her heat of the 60-meters at the George Fox Indoor meet on Sunday, clocking a time of 7.70 seconds to put her fourth on the GNAC performance list. Thompson cut 0.05 seconds off her time from the preliminary round to the finals. Thompson also posted a time of 8.90 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles, slotting her at No. 2 on the GNAC performance list. In addition to her success in the sprints, Thompson hit a long jump PR of 17’ 1.25” (5.21 meters).

Also Nominated: Juliette Williams, CWU; Alejandra Gomez, NNU.


Player of the Week – Austin Schaler, Saint Martin’s

First-career player of the week.

Schaler reached base in 9 of 12 plate appearances (.750) and was a sparkplug at the top of the Saints’ lineup on opening weekend. The senior hit .571 (4-for-7) with a double and his first-career home run in the series against Eastern Oregon. Schaler made the most of his time on base, stealing five bases in five attempts. He led all GNAC players in steals, walks drawn (5) and runs scored (4) while racking up an OPS of 1.893.

“That style of play is who he is, and we preach on-base percentage with him being a big tool” SMU head coach Kelly Gau said on Schaler’s ability as a table setter. “To see him show up week one was big for us. In your first game of your senior season to start with homer and other production is awesome. We are hoping for him to be that type of player all season, and it’s great for him to get off to a good start.”

Also Nominated: Austin Ohland, CWU; Zack Blaszak, MSUB; Carter Walsh, NNU.

Pitcher of the Week – Jackson Betancourt, Montana State Billings

Second-career pitcher of the week, first this season.

Betancourt pitched the Yellowjackets to their first victory of the season on Saturday, throwing seven innings in a 6-1 triumph over San Francisco State. The junior left-hander allowed just one run on six hits, while striking out five and walking none. He led all GNAC pitchers in innings pitched and was second in strikeouts as he got his season off to a stellar start.

Also Nominated: Jonathan Garza II, CWU; Colin Driscoll, SMU.