Shelby Mills was named the Female Student-Athlete of the Year
April 26, 2016
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Men's basketball player Kyle Wiltjer was named the Male Senior Athlete of the Year and women's cross country and track student-athlete Shelby Mills was named the Female Senior Athletes of the Year, respectively, as the fifth annual Evening of Excellence honored the Bulldog seniors and recognized all Gonzaga student-athletes for another great year of competition, classroom work and community service.
Women's tennis player Melanie Yates was named the Female Scholar Athlete of the Year, while men's rower Connor Mitchell and men's soccer player Chris Lowrimore were the Co-Male Scholar Athletes of the year. Volleyball's Lauren Joseph was presented the Leadership Award.
In addition, 22 student-athletes were inducted into Gonzaga University's chapter of Chi Alpha Sigma, the national college athlete honor society. Chi Alpha Sigma exists to encourage and reward high academic scholarship of college athletes at four-year accredited colleges and universities, to recognize outstanding academic achievement by intercollegiate varsity letter winners and to encourage good citizenship, moral character, and friendship among the high academic achievers in college athletics. Founded in 1996, and comprised of members from all levels within the NCAA and the NAIA, Chi Alpha Sigma has grown to over 280 University chapters nationwide. The seniors inducted today have maintained a minimum 3.4 cumulative GPA while earning varsity letters in their respective sports. This year's inductees are: Dustin Breshears (Baseball), Shelby Cheslek (Women's Basketball), Joey Harris (Baseball), Shaniqua Nilles (Women's Basketball), Taylor Jones (Baseball), Jack Arata (Men's Rowing), Connor Mitchell (Men's Rowing), Chris Lowrimore (Men's Soccer), Vicente Varas (Men's Tennis), Matthew Crichlow (Men's Cross Country), Danny Lunder (Men's Cross Country), Lauren Joseph (Volleyball), Macee Utecht (Volleyball), Lily Rorick (Women's Rowing), Hailey Rousseau (Women's Rowing), Maddie Turbes (Women's Rowing), Madeleine Verspieren (Women's Rowing), Lexi Clark (Women's Soccer), Heather Johnson (Women's Soccer), Sissi Koehler (Women's Tennis), Melanie Yates (Women's Tennis) and Zoe Urcadez (Women's Cross Country).
The following is a look at this year's individual award winners.
Male Senior Athlete Of The Year
Kyle Wiltjer, Men's Basketball
This season, Kyle Wiltjer was named an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American, an All-Wcc First Teamer, a Senior Class All-American and the Division I AAA ADA Scholar Athlete of the Year. This past season, he led Gonzaga to the school's second straight Sweet 16 and fourth-straight WCC regular season and tournament championships. individually, he put together the fourth-best single-season scoring total in Gonzaga history and moved into the top 20 all-time at GU in scoring in just two seasons. On his way to 33 double-figure scoring games, he knocked down 90 three-pointers which is sixth-best in GU history and ranked second on the team with 6.3 rebounds per game and four double-doubles. He's a two-time all-WCC selection, all-WCC academic team honoree and was a nominee for the Naismith, Wooden and Robertson awards this season.
Co-Female Senior Athlete Of The Year
Shelby Mills, Women's Cross Country and Track and Field
Shelby Mills had arguably the most successful season in Gonzaga women's cross country and track program history. She was named the West Coast Conference Runner of the Year following her first place finish at the West Coast Conference Cross Country Championships this past fall. Shelby became only the second GU runner to ever win a WCC cross country title. The Snohomish, Wash., native led the Zags to the conference team title for the first time in 20 years, and only the second time in program history. Shelby was then the top WCC finisher at both NCAA West Regionals and NCAA Nationals. The Bulldogs finished a program-best sixth at the NCAA West Regional Championships. Following their first-ever national ranking, the Zag women finished 25th in the first-ever team appearance by GU at the National Championships. On the track, Shelby became the first Zag in school history to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, placing 21st in the 3,000-meter steeplechase last year. She broke her own school record in the steeplechase this season at the Stanford Invitational and currently ranks sixth in the West region in the event. Shelby also broke the program's 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter indoor records this year.
Co-Male Scholar Athlete Of The Year
Chris Lowrimore, Men's Soccer
Chris Lowrimore bolstered the Gonzaga Men's Soccer team through his work as starting goalkeeper in all 17 games for the Zags. This Human Physiology major earned his way onto either the Dean's List or President's list every semester at GU, ultimately earning a 3.74 cumulative GPA and receiving magna cum laude honors. This young man enriched our student-athlete community during his tenure as a Zag by participating in our 2014 Leadership Institute, and also serving as a SAAC representative for three years of his undergraduate career. He also spent the past several months applying to Physical Therapy programs throughout the Pacific Northwest and GU is proud to announce that he has recently accepted an offer to attend Regis University this coming Fall.
Co-Male Scholar Athlete Of The Year
Connor Mitchell, Men's Rowing
While at GU, Connor Mitchell has made his presence known throughout the Spokane community, volunteering at numerous charitable events and serving as this year's Treasurer on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. In addition to his community service, this Zag is also a double-threat in the classroom, completing his degree in Business Administration with concentrations in both Economics and Finance. He has been inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, Beta Gamma Sigma, and Omicron Delta Epsilon honor societies, and has maintained a 3.74 cumulative GPA, while earning Dean's and President's List honors each semester at Gonzaga. This young man was a member of the JV8 boat that finished 18th at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association's National Championship in 2014, and was voted a captain on this year's team where he again rowed as a member of the JV8 boat. After interning with Cascadia Capital last summer, he has accepted a full-time position with that firm and will begin work there this summer.
Female Scholar Athlete Of The Year
Melanie Yates, Women's Tennis
Melanie Yates joined the Gonzaga family as a freshman in the Fall of 2012. She immediately displayed incredible passion and commitment to academic excellence through the pursuit of a Bachelor of Science major in Biology and entering Gonzaga's pre-med advising cohort. Over her career as a Zag, this young woman has earned an impressive 3.91 cumulative GPA, receiving President's List honors every semester at Gonzaga. This individual was a Leadership Institute participant in 2014, and in addition to being a constant presence at various community events with the women's tennis team, has also been a committed SAAC representative. During her tenure at GU, she has been a two-time WCC All Academic honor recipient, and there's have no doubt that she'll continue to be as successful when she enters Creighton University's School of Medicine for the Fall of 2016.
Lauren Joseph, Volleyball
As a natural leader both on and off the court, Lauren Joseph has excelled in many ways during her career at Gonzaga. She will graduate with honors in May, holding a degree in Mechanical Engineering and has impressive 3.64 GPA, transcending what it means to be a student- athlete. On the court, she was a setter for the Volleyball team and left her mark in the record books finishing fifth in GU's all-time assists, setting up her teammates over 2,400 times. She played in over 110 matches, and was an active and inspiring leader no matter where she was on the court. This senior has also displayed leadership amongst her peers by being elected as Secretary for SAAC in 2014 and is currently this year's SAAC President. She has been essential to SAAC's successful events during her time on the Committee and was chosen by the Athletic Department to represent Gonzaga at multiple WCC and NCAA conferences and was a member of the inaugural student-athlete leadership institute in 2013. She has been nominated as Zag of the Month twice, and was the face of last year's Step UP! Campaign.