ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) announced the final round of winners of a new prestigious conference award Friday. Six MIAC spring student-athletes were honored for their combined athletic and academic achievement with the announcement of the MIAC Elite 22 Awards in baseball, softball, tennis and outdoor track and field.
The baseball honor was presented to Bethel's Nik Anderson, and another Royal - Caroline Kivisto - received the softball award. St. Olaf's Mike Schroeder won the men's tennis Elite 22 award, while Gustavus' Annie Mahoney received the honor in women's tennis. The men's outdoor track honor was awarded to St. Olaf's Phillip Meyer, and the women's outdoor track award was presented to Gustavus' Elizabeth Weiers.
The MIAC Elite 22 Award recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the conference championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. Modeled after the NCAA Elite 89 Award, the MIAC Elite 22 Award is presented to the student-athlete with the highest grade point average (GPA) in each sport who meet similarly high, sport-specific athletic requirements.
In sports with a team postseason tournament, the Elite 22 Award is presented to the individual with the highest GPA on the active roster at the MIAC Playoff championship contest. In outdoor track and field, the Elite 22 award is presented to the individual with the highest GPA that is recognized as a member of the All-Conference Team at the MIAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which includes the top three finishers in each individual event, and the members of each first-place relay team. A student-athlete must be a sophomore, junior or senior and in at least his or her second season of competition with their current team to be eligible for the honor.
Anderson claimed the first-ever MIAC Baseball Elite 22 Award thanks to the Royals first trip to the MIAC Playoff championship game in program history. Anderson is a junior Business major with a 3.87 GPA. He is a native of Shoreview, Minn., and a graduate of Mounds View High School. The Bethel shortstop hit .311 with 17 runs and 12 RBI while helping the Royals finish second in both the regular season and MIAC Playoffs.
Kivisto capped a tremendous MIAC Playoff performance with the first-ever MIAC Softball Elite 22 Award, after her team reached the title game for the second-straight season. Kivisto is a sophomore nursing major with a near-perfect 3.98 GPA. She is a native of Dassel, Minn., and a graduate of Dassel-Cokato High School. Kivisto also earned All-Conference and All-MIAC Tournament Team honors in 2014, as the catcher hit .392 with 11 home runs, 37 RBI and 35 runs scored.
Schroeder received the first-ever MIAC Men's Tennis Elite 22 Award thanks to his GPA and his team's thrilling run to the MIAC Playoffs title match. The Ole sophomore has a 3.91 GPA and has yet to declare a major. He is a Sioux Falls, S.D., native, and a graduate of Washington High School. Schroeder helped the fourth-seeded Oles defeat No. 5 Bethel, 6-3, in the quarterfinals, and upset No. 2 Carleton, 5-2, in the semis before falling short against top-seeded Gustavus in the championship match. Schroeder was 9-6 in singles play (6-3 MIAC) and 6-3 in doubles play (4-1 MIAC) this spring for St. Olaf.
Mahoney received the first-ever MIAC Women's Tennis Elite 22 Award after her team's exciting trip to the MIAC Playoff championship match. The Gustie junior is a communications major with a 3.5 GPA. She is a native of Duluth, Minn., and a graduate of East High School. Mahoney helped the second-seeded Gusties beat No. 3 St. Thomas, 5-1, in the semifinals, before losing a hard-fought championship match 5-3 to No. 1 Carleton. Mahoney was 8-8 in singles play (5-3 MIAC) and 12-10 in doubles matches (6-4 MIAC) this spring.
Meyer added his MIAC Men's Outdoor Track and Field Elite 22 Award to a tremendous weekend, as he also claimed the MIAC title and All-Conference honors in the men's 10,000-meter run. The St. Olaf junior is a Music Education major with a 3.923 GPA. He is a Woodstock, Ill., native, and a graduate of Woodstock, Ill. He won the 10K in 32:03.81, defeating teammate (and cross country Elite 22 winner Grant Wintheiser) by nearly five seconds on the Oles' home track.
Weiers is also a MIAC individual champ and an Elite 22 recipient after winning the hammer throw and adding the prestigious conference honor. The Gustavus junior is an English major with a perfect 4.0 GPA. She is a native of Le Center, Minn., and a graduate of Le Sueur-Henderson High School. Weiers' winning throw, which also gave her All-Conference honors, traveled 168-7 feet, or 51.38 meters. She won the MIAC hammer throw championship by a margin of more than eight feet.
A plaque will be provided to all six winners to commemorate their MIAC Elite 22 Award, and they are recognized on the MIAC Elite 22 Award web site, which has archived each of the 22 winners throughout the 2013-14 season. Nine of the MIAC's 13 institutions had at least one Elite 22 year in the award's inaugural year, led by St. Thomas with six recipients. Gustavus and St. Olaf each had four Elite 22 winners, Bethel and Saint Benedict each had two, and Augsburg, Carleton, Hamline and Saint Mary's each had one student-athlete honored in 2013-14.
The MIAC Elite 22 Award was modeled after the NCAA Elite 89 Award, which honors the student-athlete with the highest GPA at the championship site for each of the NCAA's 89 sponsored-sports across Divisions I, II and III. The award emerged from the MIAC's strategic plan, and was unanimously approved by the conference's governance structure in May 2013.