BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) recognized some of its best and brightest fall sport student-athletes on Wednesday with the announcement of the golf, cross country, soccer, volleyball, and football Elite 22 Awards.
Saint John's Nate Loxtercamp and Gustavus' Erin Ericson were the recipients of the men's and women's golf Elite 22 awards, with Carleton runner Stephen Lavey joining Gustavus' Evelyn Villalobos as the award recipients for men's and women's cross country. Soccer's Elite 22 awards went to Saint Benedict's Abby Willenbring and St. Olaf's Kristian Noll, while Bethel's Allie Fauth was awarded in volleyball and Saint John's Mateo Cisneros was honored in football.
The MIAC Elite 22 Award recognizes the true essence of the term "student-athlete" by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the conference championship level in their sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among their peers. Modeled after the NCAA Elite 90 Award, the MIAC Elite 22 Award is presented to the student-athlete with the highest grade-point average (GPA) in each sport who meets similarly high, sport-specific athletic requirements.
In all sports with MIAC team postseason tournaments, including volleyball and soccer, the MIAC Elite 22 Award is presented to the individual with the highest GPA on the active postseason roster of one of the two Playoff championship teams. The MIAC Elite 22 Football Award is presented to the individual nominated for the honor with the highest GPA who helped their team reach the MIAC championship game. For cross country, the honor is bestowed upon the individual with the highest GPA among the top-15 individual finishers at the conference championship meet, while the accolade in golf is presented to the individual with the highest GPA among the top-10 individual finishers at the MIAC Championships. Each winner must be a sophomore, junior, or senior and in at least their second full academic year at their current institution. Ties are broken by the number of credits earned.
Cisneros (So. | Shoreview, Minn. | Mounds View) saw action in every regular-season game, collecting 21 tackles and recovering a fumble as a defensive back for the MIAC champion Johnnies. He is a biology major with a 4.0 grade-point average at Saint John's.
Ericson (Sr. | Onalaska, Wis.) was the individual runner-up at the 2021 MIAC Women's Golf Championships, shooting 188 over the 2.5 rounds in October. She has a 3.875 GPA while majoring in Accounting at Gustavus.
Fauth (Sr. | Hutchinson, Minn.) played in 107 sets for the MIAC co-champion Royals, posting 243 kills and 383 digs as an outside hitter this fall. She has a 3.984 GPA while studying Elementary Education and Counseling Psychology at Bethel.
Lavey (Sr. | Cedar Grove, Wis. | Cedar Grove-Belgium) was the individual runner-up at the 2021 MIAC Men's Cross Country Championships, crossing the finish line at 24:59.0. He has a 3.97 GPA while majoring in Chemistry at Carleton.
Loxtercamp (So. | Richmond, Minn. | Melrose Area) posted a 7-under-par 173 to finish second at the 2021 MIAC Men's Golf Championships in October. He has maintained a 4.0 GPA while majoring in Accounting at Saint John's.
Noll (Sr. | Seoul, South Korea | Korea International School) saw action in a pair of games for the MIAC champion Oles this fall and did not allow a goal in either contest. He is studying Norwegian and Political Science and has a 4.0 GPA at St. Olaf.
Villalobos (So. | Crystal, Minn. | Robbinsdale Cooper) earned All-MIAC honors at her first conference meet this fall, crossing the finish line at the 2021 MIAC Women's Cross Country Championships in 23:28.1. She has a 4.0 GPA at Gustavus.
Willenbring (So. | Lino Lakes, Minn. | Centennial) started all 18 games for the Bennies, scoring two goals and recording three assists on the year. She has a 4.0 GPA while majoring in Accounting at Saint Benedict.
A physical award will be provided to the winners to commemorate their MIAC Elite 22 Award. The conference also recognizes past honorees on the MIAC Elite 22 Award web page.