BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) announced its Athlete-of-the-Week award winners in football volleyball and soccer. Student-athletes from Bethel, Carleton, Gustavus, Hamline, Saint Benedict, Saint John's, and St. Thomas claimed the conference's weekly honors for the week of Aug. 31-Sept. 4, 2016.
The MIAC Athlete-of-the-Week awards are nominated and selected each week by the conference's sports information directors. Throughout the fall season, team sports (football, volleyball and soccer) Athletes-of-the-Week will be recognized on Monday afternoons, with individual sports (cross country and golf) announced on Tuesday afternoons.
Due to Monday's holiday, the first fall Athletes-of-the-Week were all announced on Tuesday, Sept. 6, with the regular schedule beginning the following week (Sept. 12-13). The winners of the Sept. 6 Athlete-of-the-Week awards are listed below, along with details on their award-winning performances. This week, Gustavus had three student-athletes honored, Hamline and Carleton each had a pair and Bethel, Saint Benedict, Saint John's and St. Thomas each had one student-athlete honored. The 2016 fall season began on Thursday, Aug. 31, with teams around the conference kicking off the new season over the course of Labor Day weekend.
To view each sport's 2016-17 Athlete-of-the-Week home page, visit the MIAC's Awards page, or visit the 2016-17 Athlete-of-the-Week news archive for complete details on each week's selections and winners.
|| Football Offensive Player-of-the-Week
So. – QB
St. Anthony, Minn. / St. Anthony Village
|Justice Spriggs helped Head Coach Chip Taylor win his Hamline (1-0) debut
in impressive fashion, 29-9 over Crown. The sophomore quarterback was
25-for-33 for 333 yards and three scores in the passing game, and added 35
yards and a score on the ground. Spriggs guided the Piper offense to 523 total
yards, and he did not yield an interception or a sack in the win.
|| Football Defensive-Player-of-the-Week
Saint John's University
Jr. – DB
Phoenix, Ariz. / Brophy College Prep
|Leonard Gutierrez certainly made his mark in his first start at cornerback to help
No. 9-ranked Saint John's (1-0) roll to a 49-7 win over St. Scholastica. Gutierrez
intercepted the Saints three times – all in the first half and all on third downs – while
adding four tackles (two solo) and another pass breakup. Gutierrez and company held
CSS to 97 yards (11 rushing) on 60 plays.
|| Football Special Teams-Player-of-the-Week
Gustavus Adolphus College
Jr. – K
Lakeville, Minn. / South
|Brendan Boche had a perfect day kicking the football for Gustavus (1-0) in the team's
35-6 season-opening win over Westminster (Mo.). The Gustie junior was a perfect 5-for-5
on extra point attempts, and his kickoffs – six for 365 yards (60.8 average) with one
touchback – played a big part in the field-position battle.
Jr. – MB
Sioux Falls, S.D. / Sioux Falls Christian
|Kristin Stern and 12th-ranked Bethel (4-0) got off to a great start by winning all four
matches at their home invitational, with Stern named MVP. Over the four wins, she
racked up 77 kills (5.13 per set) with a .464 hitting percentage and had 14 total blocks
(two solo, 12 assist). Her best match was a 23-kill, four-block performance to open the
2016 season in a 3-1 win over Nebraska Wesleyan, and she had at least 17 kills in the other
three wins over Willamette (3-0), Wartburg (3-1) and Wheaton (3-1). Stern leads the MIAC
in five hitting statistical categories after the season's first week.
|| Volleyball Setter/Libero-Player-of-the-Week
College of Saint Benedict
Jr. – S
Plymouth, Minn. / Osseo
|Saint Benedict and setter Megan Pekarek started the season 2-2 against great competition
at the Emory Classic in Atlanta, with Pekarek earning All-Tournament Team honors. Over
the four matches she handed out 149 assists, an average of 9.31 per set, and added 31 digs,
17 kills and seven blocks. Pekarek opened her season with a 28-assist, 12-dig double-double
in a 3-0 win over Saint Mary's (Ind.) and had 51 assists in a 3-2 win over host Emory. She
also had 46 and 24 assists in the two losses, to UW-Oshkosh (3-2) and Birmingham Southern
||Men's Soccer Athlete-of-the-Week
So. – Forward
Carlton, Minn. / Cloquet
|It didn't take long for Hamline's Ben Pietsch to show off his clutch goal-scoring abilities. The
sophomore forward scored the game-winner for the Pipers in each of their first two games –
both one-goal wins. He netted the game-winner five minutes into the second half of Saturday's
2-1 season-opening win against MSOE, and a day later his goal just 2:53 into the game proved
to be the difference in a 1-0 victory over Carroll.
||Women's Soccer Athlete-of-the-Week
Gustavus Adolphus College
So. – Goalkeeper
|After a breakthrough 2015 season, Gustavus and Ashley Becker appear to be ready for an encore
performance in 2016. The Gusties and their sophomore goalkeeper posted back-to-back shutouts
last week to start 2-0 for the first time since 2009. Becker made five saves in a 3-0 win over
Nebraska Wesleyan Thursday, and she stayed perfect by tying her career high with nine saves in
a tight 1-0 win over UW-LaCrosse Saturday.
||Men's Cross Country Athlete-of-the-Week
Gustavus Adolphus College
Sr. – Decorah, Iowa
|The Gustavus men's cross country team and senior star Thomas Knobbe both started the 2016
season in style at the Crown Invite. Knobbe was the top Division III runner with a time of 26:46,
and he finished second overall in the 80-runner field. The Gusties had similar success, finishing
second in the five-team field. Both Knobbe and his team were second only to the University of
Minnesota-Duluth, a Division II opponent.
|| Women's Cross Country Athlete-of-the-Week
Jr. – Williamstown, Mass. / Mount Greylock
|Emily Kaegi started her season with a strong performance against excellent competition. The
Carleton junior was the top Division III finisher at the Augustana Twilight meet. She finished
17th in the 228-runner field, which included eight NCAA Division II programs. She crossed
the finish line in 17:37.75 to lead the No. 19-ranked Knights to a seventh-place finish in the
20-team field. Carleton scored 168 points to finish ahead of half of the Division II squads.
||Men's Golf Athlete-of-the-Week
University of St. Thomas
Jr. - Spring Lake Park, Minn.
|Reigning MIAC Golfer-of-the-Year Pete Sienko picked up right where he left off,
as both he and his team (St. Thomas) earned second-place finishes at the Augsburg
Invite. Sienko was brilliant during Sunday's final round as he fired a 69 to card the
day's best score, and his two-day total of 146 (77-69) was just one shot behind the
individual medalist and the best score of any of the 77 MIAC players in the field. The
Tommies shared second place in the 18-team field.
||Women's Golf Athlete-of-the-Week
So. - Beijing City, China / Lighthouse Christian
|Carleton's Ziyi Wang started her sophomore season in historic fashion, as she broke
the school's 36-hole scoring record to earn medalist honors and lead the Knights to
a team win at the CSB Invitational. Wang shot a 74 on day one and finished with a
73 for her 3-over-par school-record total of 147, which was good for a six-shot margin
in her first collegiate victory. As a team, Carleton carded a 621 (309-312) to win the
11-team tournament by 23 shots.