From Hardwood To Softball Diamond, GNAC Players Shine
Keeli Jade Smith led the Saints to a pair of season-closing road wins, including a season-high 23 points in her finale.
Keeli Jade Smith led the Saints to a pair of season-closing road wins, including a season-high 23 points in her finale.

Monday, March 4, 2024
by Evan O'Kelly, Assistant Commissioner For Communications

PORTLAND, Ore. – With the 2023-24 basketball regular season coming to a close and the outdoor track and field season getting started, a full batch of 12 student-athletes were selected as the latest GNAC Players of the Week on Monday.


Player of the Week – Keeli Jade Smith, Saint Martin’s

First-career player of the week.

Helping the Saints close their 2023-24 season with a pair of big road wins, Smith tied for the most points scored by a GNAC player last week (38). She started off with 15 points, three steals and three rebounds in SMU’s 49-47 triumph over Central Washington. Smith then capped her senior season with a season-high 23 points on 7-for-12 shooting to lift the Saints past Northwest Nazarene 88-72. Smith made 6 of 9 threes in the game, while adding two more steals, two assists, two rebounds and a blocked shot all in just 23 minutes.

Also Nominated: Tori Hollingshead, UAA; Emma McKenney, UAF; Sunny Huerta, CWU; Aspen Giese, MSUB; Madeline Gebers, NNU; Grace Killins, SFU; Brooke Walling, WWU.


Player of the Week – Zharon Richmond, Montana State Billings

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

Richmond put together an otherworldly performance in the final week of his regular-season career, and helped his hometown team secure its first-ever GNAC regular-season title outright with an 81-58 blowout of Alaska last Thursday. Richmond led all GNAC players in scoring with 61 points in his two games, making 22 of 25 field goals for 88.0% from the floor overall. Richmond’s line included a 7-for-8 mark from 3-point range (87.5%) and he chipped in three blocks and eight rebounds on the defensive end. Richmond began his week with a career-high 31 points in the win over the Nanooks, making 12 of 14 shots including 4 of 5 from long range. He followed that by making 10 of 11 shots on his way to 30 points in 37 minutes against Alaska Anchorage.

Also Nominated: Dillon Barrientos, UAA; Demarcus Hall-Scriven, UAF; Samaad Hector, CWU; Gabriel Murphy, NNU; Tyke Thompson, SMU; Shaw Anderson, SPU; David Penney, SFU; Cameron Benzel, WOU; Will Wilson, WWU.


Player of the Week – Emma Bumatay, Northwest Nazarene

First-career player of the week.

Bumatay helped the Nighthawks win their series against Saint Martin’s 2-1, leading the GNAC in slugging percentage (1.400), home runs (3), RBIs (8) and runs scored (6) last week. Bumatay went 5-for-10 and reached base at a clip of .583 in the three games. Bumatay twice played the role of hero in the Nighthawks’ series-clinching 3-1 win in nine innings on Saturday. With NNU down 1-0, Bumatay led off the bottom of the seventh with a game-tying home run to keep the game going. Her next time up in the bottom of the ninth, she blasted a walk-off, two-run home run over the fence in left field to seal the win for NNU.

Also Nominated: Kate Hopkins, CWU; Marin Penney, MSUB; Shelby Lawson, SMU; Megan Duclos, SFU; Emma Andrewjeski, WWU.

Pitcher of the Week – Kaiana Kong, Western Washington

First-career pitcher of the week.

Kong baffled the opposition last week, striking out a GNAC-high 14 hitters in just eight innings pitched. Kong kicked off her big week by striking out eight Red Leafs across 5 1/3 innings pitched in a 97-pitch effort on Saturday. She followed that with 2 2/3 shutout innings on Sunday, striking out six more batters on her way to her second save of the season. Overall across her 10 appearances Kong has 26 strikeouts, including at least one punch out in every game she has pitched.

Also Nominated: Ashlee Laver, CWU; Mia Traylor, NNU; Chloe Leverington, SMU; Monica Bourque, SFU; Mackenzee Collins, WOU.


Player of the Week – Austin Ohland, Central Washington

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

Ohland put a stamp on his fourth-career GNAC Player of the Week award in his final at-bat of the weekend, as he delivered a 10th-inning, walk-off home run to help the Wildcats seal a four-game sweep of Saint Martin’s. The decisive swing of the bat was Ohland’s second long ball of the weekend, and he added a pair of doubles on the way to a slugging percentage of .882. Ohland hit .412 in the series while reaching base at a clip of .474, driving in six runs and scoring eight times. Ohland also played error-free defense in 10 chances.

Also Nominated: Zack Blaszak, MSUB; Trevor Tishenkel, NNU; Austin Schaler, SMU; Justyn Herzog, WOU.

Pitcher of the Week – Kyle Ethridge, Northwest Nazarene

First-career pitcher of the week.

The Nighthawk lefty came within one out of a shutout, pitching NNU to a 2-0 victory over Western Oregon on Friday. Ethridge scattered just four hits across his 8 2/3 scoreless frames, while striking out eight batters and issuing zero walks. Ethridge’s 109 pitches were a season high, and he earned his second victory of the 2024 campaign.

Also Nominated: Daniel Charron, CWU; Sage Wayment, MSUB; Tyler Young, SMU; Devin Bell, WOU.


Women’s Track Athlete of the Week – Aniya Green, Seattle Pacific

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

Green got her outdoor season off to a stellar start, as she posted leading GNAC marks in three different events. Green finished second among a field of 41 competitors in the 200 meters with a time of 25.75 seconds, and fourth among a field of 28 competitors in the 100 meters with a time of 12.75 seconds at the Ed Boitano Invitational. Green then helped lead the Falcons’ 4x400 meter relay squad to a time of 4:03.35, which was good enough to win the event among a field of eight teams competing.

Also Nominated: Alisha Saucedo, SMU; Ali Clifton, WOU; Ashley Reeck, WWU.

Women’s Field Athlete of the Week – Jocelyn Saribay, Saint Martin’s

First-career athlete of the week.

Saribay made her outdoor debut in three throwing events at the Ed Boitano Invitational, and highlighted her weekend with a win among 22 competitors in the hammer throw at 144’ 4” (43.99 meters). Saribay also finished eighth among 32 throws in the shot put at 35’ 6.75” (10.84 meters) and ninth among 25 throwers in the discus at 101’ 9” (31.01 meters).

Also Nominated: Kaylee Wright, WOU; Sydney Mohlman, WWU.

Men’s Track Athlete of the Week – Ryan Clough, Western Washington

First-career athlete of the week.

Among the 24 GNAC men who ran a 10,000 meters race over the weekend, none posted a faster time than Clough who clocked in at 29:56.56 at the Ed Boitano Invitational. Clough topped a field of 46 competitors at the event, posting the top time nationally on the opening weekend of the 2024 outdoor season.

Also Nominated: Brody Kemble, NNU; Bailey Smith, WOU.

Men’s Field Athlete of the Week – Andrew Schulz, Saint Martin’s

First-career athlete of the week.

Schulz leapt to victory at the Ed Boitano Invitational, posting a mark of 21’ 8.75” (6.62 meters) in his outdoor long jump debut. That was good enough to earn the senior a first-place finish among a field of 27 competitors.

Also Nominated: Jakob Braunstein, WWU.


Player of the Week – Lucas Howell, Montana State Billings

First-career player of the week.

Howell had the top performance by a GNAC golfer last week, tying for fifth place at the Battle In The Desert in Borrego Springs, Calif. After shooting an even-par 72 in his opening round and a 2-over-par 74 in Round 2, Howell closed the event with a 5-under-par 67 to shoot up the leaderboard among 80 competitors. Howell’s final round score was the second-lowest of any player at the event, and his lowest of the season.

Also Nominated: Max Turnquist, SMU; Justin Bjornson, SFU.


Player of the Week – Meera Minhas, Simon Fraser

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

Minhas was the conference’s top individual finisher at the Tim Tierney Pioneer Shootout, carding a 5-over-par 149 (74-75). Minhas finished tied for 10th among the field of 96 competitors, with her first-round score being just one off her season best. Minhas currently ranks second in the GNAC with a season scoring average of 74.9 strokes per round.

Also Nominated: Kelsie Inouye, SMU; Emma Worgum, WWU.