Vikings Strike Gold, Caleb Claims 400 Record
WWU's Varsity 8+ earned the gold medal at the WIRA Championships on Sunday.
WWU's Varsity 8+ earned the gold medal at the WIRA Championships on Sunday.

Monday, April 29, 2024
by Evan O'Kelly, Assistant Commissioner For Communications

PORTLAND, Ore. – Gold medals for the Western Washington University women’s rowing team and another Great Northwest Athletic Conference track & field record for Alaska Anchorage freshman Joshua Caleb headlined the latest GNAC Player of the Week picks announced on Monday.

The Vikings found success against fellow GNAC competition at the WIRA Championships over the weekend, while Caleb stormed to the GNAC outdoor 400 meters record at the Ralph Vernacchia Invitational in Bellingham. The 2024 GNAC Indoor Track Freshman of the Year, Caleb broke the conference indoor records in both the 60 meters (6.70 seconds) and the 200 meters (21.18 seconds) during the winter season.


Crew of the Week – Western Washington Varsity 8+

The Vikings’ Varsity 8+ crew earned the gold medal at the WIRA Championships in Sunday’s Grand Final. WWU topped second-place Cal Poly Humboldt and third-place Seattle Pacific with a time of 6:52.864 on the 2,000-meter course. The Vikings hinted they were on their way to gold with Saturday’s heat, in which they posted a time of 6:48.029 to top the field of five competitors. In addition to the Varsity 8+, the Vikings’ second Varsity 8+ also claimed a gold medal in its grand final with a time of 7:21.045.

Coxswain – Janisa Cook
Stroke – Mia Marie Knipe
Emma Clark; Madeline Kidd; Sarah Plemongs; Taylor Wall; Jenna Buckholt; Kate Baring
Bow – Reed Chesnek

Also Nominated: Seattle Pacific Varsity 4+.


Player of the Week – Payton Flynn, Montana State Billings

First-career player of the week.

Flynn delivered in a series that the Yellowjackets needed to win in order to keep their postseason hopes alive, as he helped MSUB take 3 of 4 games from Central Washington. Flynn led all GNAC players last week with nine RBIs, while hitting a pair of home runs and slugging .895. Flynn also had the most doubles among conference players with four, while delivering multiple RBIs in each of the four games on the road.

Also Nominated: Ben Leid, CWU; Gavin Brubaker, NNU; Trevor McCorkle, SMU.

Pitcher of the Week – Blake Hammond, Northwest Nazarene

First-career pitcher of the week.

Hammond was untouchable in the Nighthawks’ 5-0 win over Saint Martin’s, as he tossed six no-hit innings to help his team to victory. The right-hander collected four strikeouts while issuing just one walk on the way to his second win of the season. Hammond retired the first eight batters he faced before allowing his lone baserunner with two outs in the third inning. He struck out the next three hitters however, on the way to retiring the final 10 batters that he faced.

Also Nominated: Alex Brady, CWU; Cy Miller, MSUB; Blaze Wong, SMU.


Player of the Week – Shelby Lawson, Saint Martin’s

First-career player of the week.

Lawson led all GNAC players in hitting (.769) and on-base percentage (.765), while ranking second in slugging percentage at 1.231 in the Saints’ four-game sweep of Montana State Billings. Lawson’s 10 hits last week were the most of any GNAC player, and she tied for the league lead in both RBIs (7) and doubles (3) to help her team secure the No. 3 seed coming into this week’s GNAC Softball Championships. Lawson had three hits in three of her four games, and matched her season high with four RBIs in the opener. That game also featured her third home run of the season. In addition to her production at the plate, Lawson did not strike out and she made 13 plays in right field while committing zero errors.

Also Nominated: Sasha Mitchell, CWU; Payton Meyer, MSUB; Megan Duclos, SFU; McKenna Crum, WWU.

Pitcher of the Week – Kaiana Kong, Western Washington

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

Kong delivered four stellar appearances for the Vikings last week, allowing zero earned runs across 8 2/3 innings of work. The freshman led all GNAC pitchers with an opponents’ batting average of .133, while racking up seven strikeouts. Kong collected her 13th win of the year and fifth save of the year, while issuing zero walks in her four appearances.

Also Nominated: Zoey Theophilus, CWU; Chloe Leverington, SMU; Shaneika Hollingworth, SFU; Mackenzee Collins, WOU.


Women’s Track Athlete of the Week – Marie-Eloise Leclair, Simon Fraser

10th-career track athlete of the week, fourth this season.

Leclair ran the fastest 200 meters time in the GNAC this spring, clocking in at 24.10 seconds to best a field of 34 competitors at the Ralph Vernacchia Invitational. Leclair also won the 100 meters among 33 competitors, running a time of 11.71 seconds (-2.3). Leclair ranks 14th on the NCAA performance list in the 100 meters and 35th in the 200 meters.

Also Nominated: E’lexis Hollis, CWU; Cecily Eagleton, MSUB; Kennedy Cook, WWU.

Women’s Field Athlete of the Week – Katie Potts, Western Washington

Sixth-career field athlete of the week, fifth this season.

Potts won both the shot put and discus at the Ralph Vernacchia Invitational, and she owns NCAA provisional marks in both events. Potts hit a shot put PR of 45’ 6.5” (13.88 meters), which was the second-best mark in the GNAC this season. Her discus throw of 152’ 5” (46.47 meters) was the top mark by any GNAC thrower in 2024, and raised her name to No. 25 on the D2 performance list.

Also Nominated: Lauryn McGough, CWU; Hannah Cooper, MSUB; Madeline Gebers, NNU; Lizzy Daugherty, SPU; Zuzanna Liniewski, SFU.

Men’s Track Athlete of the Week – Joshua Caleb, Alaska Anchorage

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

Caleb kept his stellar freshman season going last week, breaking the GNAC record in the 400 meters with a time of 46.73 seconds. That was good enough to beat a field of 17 competitors at the Ralph Vernacchia Invitational, and it stands as the seventh-fastest time in Division II this spring. Caleb also won the 200 meters, running a time of 21.60 seconds (-1.0).

Also Nominated: Johan Correa, CWU; Jaycee Herbert, MSUB; Hunter Braseth, NNU; Jesaiah Penson-McCoy, SFU; Alex Driesner, WOU; Ryan Clough, WWU.

Men’s Field Athlete of the Week – Miller Campbell, Western Washington

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

Campbell hit PRs in both the discus and hammer throw last week, and finished in the top-four in all three of his events at WWU’s home meet. Campbell had the conference’s second-best hammer throw of 2024, clearing 183’ 5” (55.91 meters). In addition to finishing second among 16 throwers in that event, Campbell finished fourth in the discus with a PR toss of 128’ 7” (39.20 meters) and fourth in the shot put with a throw of 43’ 1.75” (13.15 meters).

Also Nominated: Isaiah Webster, CWU; Isaac Perkins, MSUB; Nick Monro, SFU.