Minhas’s Record Round Headlines Players Of The Week

Monday, March 25, 2024
by Evan O'Kelly, Assistant Commissioner For Communications

PORTLAND, Ore. – Simon Fraser sophomore golfer Meera Minhas took down a Great Northwest Athletic Conference record and claimed her first collegiate victory on Sunday, stealing the show at the Southern Colorado Open to headline the latest GNAC Player of the Week selections.

Minhas shot a GNAC-single round record 5-under-par 67 to open the event, before following with a 1-over-par 73 for a GNAC-record two-round score of 4-under-par 140. After a four-hole playoff with Colorado State Pueblo’s Kylie Severin was ended by deteriorating weather conditions, she settled for a tie for first place.

“She has been knocking on the door this spring and has been close,” said SFU head coach Matthew Steinbach. “It is something I know she has wanted. She had never broken par in a college event or won a college event, so she knocked the door down on both of those. Hopefully this opens the door for Meera to win multiple events. She has the capability to do it, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come.”


Player of the Week – Meera Minhas, Simon Fraser

Third-career player of the week, third this season.

Minhas went bogey-free in her record round, carding five birdies including four during a 4-under-par 32 on the front nine. She followed with two more birdies her second time through the course, giving her seven total on the day. Minhas’s efforts helped the SFU women tie the third-lowest team score in GNAC history, as they put together a 1-over-par 289 to finish the event in second place. Minhas lowered her scoring average on the season to 74.3 strokes per round, ranking her second in the conference.

“She put herself in scoring position on the par 5s and took advantage,” said Steinbach. “Going bogey free was the bigger accomplishment. That speaks to course management and her short game. She put the ball in the right places, and then got up and down when she was out of position. Her short game and putting really did the trick for her.”

Also Nominated: Kelsie Inouye, SMU.


Women’s Track Athlete of the Week – Cassidy Walchak-Sloan, Saint Martin’s

Third-career track athlete of the week, second this season.

Walchak-Sloan put her name at the top of the Division II performance list in the 5,000 meters, running a time of 16:40.76 at the Oregon Preview last Friday. The senior placed sixth among a field of 19 runners, with five Division I runners finishing ahead of her. It was a 19-second improvement from her debut 5,000 meters time on March 8, and she also posted the third-fastest 1,500 meters time of the spring within the GNAC at 4:33.16.

“It was only her second 5,000 ever, and she hung back in a big field with mainly D1 runners,” said SMU assistant coach Nate Carlson. “She started kicking it in the last couple of laps, and she finished her last lap with a 71. That’s the kind of speed that she had for her 1,500 meter PR – she has a lot left and she knows it. The encouraging thing is she will run even faster.”

Also Nominated: Liv Heite, UAA; E’lexis Hollis, CWU; Elizabeth Vanderput, SFU; Caitlyn Cheney, WWU.

Women’s Field Athlete of the Week – Vivien Liessfeld, Alaska Anchorage

First-career field athlete of the week.

Liessfeld posted an all-around strong performance in the heptathlon on Friday, racking up 4,521 points to slot her name third on the Division II performance list. Her top performances came in the long jump with a mark of 18’ 6” (5.64 meters) and the javelin with a throw of 109’ 8” (33.43 meters).

Also Nominated: Emy Ntekpere, CWU; Madeline Gebers, NNU; Jocelyn Saribay, SMU; Kennedy Primrose, SFU; Emillia Carpenter, WOU; Katie Potts, WWU.

Men’s Track Athlete of the Week – Jeret Gillingham, Western Washington

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

Gillingham ran the nation’s leading steeplechase time of 8:52.33 at the Oregon Preview on Friday, hitting his collegiate PR with an improvement of 17 seconds upon his mark from March 1. Gillingham placed third among the field of nine runners and was the top Division II competitor in the event. His time was more than two seconds faster than any other Division II steeplechase so far in 2024.

Also Nominated: Kevin Angarita, UAA; Josh Boast, CWU; Brody Kemble, NNU; Jesaiah Penson-McCoy, SFU; Isaiah Rodriguez, WOU.

Men’s Field Athlete of the Week – Laurenz Waldbauer, Northwest Nazarene

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

Waldbauer unleashed a javelin throw of 232’ 0” (70.71 meters), putting his name atop the GNAC performance list and ranking him third in Division II track and field in the event. The 2022 GNAC champion in the event, Waldbauer was 5’ 6” short of his PR of 237’ 6” which ranks second in GNAC history. The Nighthawk sophomore now sits behind Pittsburg State’s Caleb Calvin (243’ 0”) and Texas A&M Kingsville’s Markim Felix (237’ 8”) on the 2024 NCAA performance list.

Also Nominated: Eric Bushnell, UAA; Wyatt Franklin, CWU; David Njeri, SPU; Jarrett Chong, SFU; Mark Warren, WOU; Noah Turner, WWU.


Player of the Week – Trevor Tishenkel, Northwest Nazarene

First-career player of the week.

Tishenkel sparked the Nighthawks to a 3-1 series win over Saint Martin’s, providing steady production and key swings throughout the weekend. With two outs in the bottom of the third of the series finale, Tishenkel opened up a 4-0 lead for his team with a clutch, three-run double in the eventual 4-1 win. Tishenkel led all GNAC players last week in home runs (3) and RBIs (8), while slashing .462/.533/.1.231.

“He had some of the biggest swings of the weekend of anybody in our lineup,” said NNU head coach Joe Schaefer. “His 3-run double in game four was the difference maker, and he had a couple big home runs earlier in the weekend. He has been getting hotter with each passing week, and without his performance we definitely don’t get three wins.”

Also Nominated: Austin Ohland, CWU; Jack Nehler, MSUB; Dylan McLaughlin, SMU.

Pitcher of the Week – Cy Miller, Montana State Billings

First-career pitcher of the week.

Miller delivered a complete-game performance to help the Yellowjackets top Central Washington 3-1 last week, collecting his first victory of the season. The left-hander limited the Wildcats – who average 6.1 runs per game – to just one run in his seven innings of work, while striking out five and scattering seven hits. Miller dealt with runners in scoring position in five innings, and retired the final two batters of the game with the tying run being represented in the box.

“We needed him to throw a game like that against Central – they have a good lineup,” said MSUB head coach Derek Waddoups. “He did a good job commanding the zone, getting ahead early and continuing to attack. He pitched ahead and continued to compete in the zone.”

Also Nominated: Logan Pierce, CWU; Bryan Rojas, NNU; Justice Yamashita, SMU.


Player of the Week – Hailey Rath, Western Washington

First-career player of the week.

Rath helped pilot the Vikings to a perfect performance at the Tournament of Champions, as she had a GNAC-leading seven hits in the team’s 5-0 weekend in California. Rath had at least one hit in all five games, including a pair of doubles and her third home run of the season. In the Vikings’ 9-2 triumph over Cal State San Bernardino, Rath had a career-high four RBIs thanks to a double and a home run. Rath bumped her season batting average up to .364, and she has started all 26 of WWU’s games this spring.

“She works harder than anyone I’ve ever seen, and she plays the game with so much joy and love,” said WWU head coach Sheryl Gilmore. “It’s no wonder she finds success, and it’s contagious being around her. It was great to see her get back to being herself. We could see her relax up there, settle in and enjoy the moment in front of her. The cornerstone of our program is pitching and defense, and as a shortstop you’re out there leading the defense. For her to step up in the way she has is huge – she invests in her preparation and knows where she needs to be for each hitter. She anticipates the game well and does a great job helping the defense control the game.”

Also Nominated: Alyssa Benthagen, CWU; Payton Meyer, MSUB; Kristen Davyduke, SFU; Maddie Doig, WOU.

Pitcher of the Week – Alli Kimball, Western Washington

First-career pitcher of the week.

Kimball helped lead the Vikings to a 5-0 record at the Tournament of Champions, putting together three dominant performances in the circle. Across her 19 innings pitched, Kimball allowed zero runs, nine hits and just one walk. She chipped in nine strikeouts, and was one off her season high with five in the team’s 2-0 triumph over San Francisco State in the tournament finale. Kimball earned the victory in all three of her outings, posting a WHIP of 0.53 on the week. The shutouts were the first two of her collegiate career.

“She’s very consistent in her poise and composure in the circle,” Gilmore said of the freshman. “She has been that way from the beginning, no matter the opponent or the situation. She doesn’t let the moment get too big, and focuses on winning the moment in front of her. That is especially rare in a freshman. She also does a great job of working with our other pitchers to give opponents different looks.”

Also Nominated: Ashlee Laver, CWU; Caitlyn James, MSUB; Sidney Booth, NNU; Mackenzee Collins, WOU.


Crew of the Week – Central Oklahoma Varsity 8+

Producing a pair of victories at the Falcon Regatta on Saturday, Central Oklahoma’s Varsity 8+ enjoyed success competing against the nation’s top-ranked teams. The Varsity 8+ kicked off the event by winning the first race with a time of 7:09.7, posting a 4.1-second victory over second-place Cal Poly Humboldt. The same unit followed later in the morning by winning again, this time with an improved mark of 7:01.7 and a margin of 8.1 seconds over the Lumberjacks.

“It was a solid start to our conference race schedule, and based on the speed of the GNAC from last year we are just happy to be in the mix of things at this early stage of the season,” said UCO head coach Jen Gilbert. “There is incredible comradery between the GNAC conference head coaches, and we are all excited to help elevate the level of Division II women’s rowing in the country. We expect the GNAC Championships to be an incredibly tight racing between all the schools so we will continue to work towards being in the mix there.”

Bow - Rachel Harris
2 - Samantha Hutchings
3 - Raphaela Sanchez
4 - Victoria Petschnig
5 - Anya Landrowski
6 - Faith Brooks
7 - Carlota Martinez
Stroke - Lauren Clark
Cox - Emily Overholt