ELMHURST, Ill.—South Dakota senior Shanice Cannigan, senior Gawain Williams and sophomore Chris Nilsen have been voted The Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Athletes of the Year by the league’s head coaches.
Nilsen repeats as the Summit League Men’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year, garnering the award for the fourth time of his career. Nilsen brought home the gold in the pole vault at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He vaulted 19 feet, 1 ½ inches, to break a 22-year-old NCAA Championships meet record. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Nilsen also broke his own Summit League Championships meet record by nearly a foot after clearing 19-0 ¼. The sophomore broke the 19-foot barrier at four meets during the season, vaulting his personal best of 19-2 ¾ at the Howard Wood Dakota Relays for the top height in the United States this season. Nilsen ranks fourth in NCAA history with the jump. He was also named the USTFCCCA Midwest Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year and is a semifinalist for The Bowerman.
Cannigan earns the Summit League Women’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year for the first time. She earned the same award for the indoor season back in March. Cannigan was voted the Summit League’s Most Outstanding Championship Performer after sweeping the 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles at the Summit League Championships. She broke her own school record in the 100 hurdles at the Summit meet with a clocking of 13.43 seconds. The senior totaled more points than any other athlete at the league meet with 27.5 points across five events. She led the Coyotes to the program’s first Summit League team title in history. Hailing from Lucea, Jamaica, Cannigan also qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary in the 100 hurdles. She becomes the second Coyote in program history to earn this award, joining Alexa Duling (2012).
Williams garners his first Summit League Men’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year award. He becomes the third Coyote to earn the award since USD joined the Summit in 2012. Williams made history at the 2018 Summit League Championships when he became the first athlete to win four league titles in the 100 meters. He is the fourth male in Summit history to win four titles in any single event. Williams completed his four-for-four by tying his personal best of 10.26 with the victory. The senior also garnered all-Summit honors with runner-up finishes in the 200 meters and 4x100-meter relay. Hailing from Hanover, Jamaica, Williams anchored the three-fastest 4x100-meter relays in school history over the past three seasons including the school record of 40.13 seconds from 2017.
Successes of the 2018 outdoor track and field season include a Summit League Championship for the Coyote women, a NCAA Championship title by Nilsen and a program-best six qualifiers for the NCAA Championship meet.
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