Each month, The Summit League will feature outstanding student-athlete performances from a selected institution as recognized by its Faculty Athletic Representative. The March installment of The Summit League Scholar-Athlete Spotlight features three student-athletes from Southern Utah University.
Jamie Smith, Women's Cross Country
Eligibility Year/Hometown: So./Lehi, Utah
Smith's decision to become a teacher has been fortified by some of her amazing teachers and coaches. She maintains they taught her to never give up and to become more then she thought she could ever be. Now her dream is to give back a part of what they did for her. Smith is a chemistry-education major, with the dream of graduating to become a high school chemistry teacher and coach. Alongside with her love of running, she also loves to swim. This past semester she had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of a program that taught swimming to underprivileged children in the community. She states that it was such an incredible experience working with those preschoolers and seeing the light shine in their eyes as they learned how to have fun and be safe in the water. The Lehi, Utah, native is the 2010 Summit League women's cross country champion and the women's Summit League Championship MVP. Smith competed in each of Southern Utah's seven meets during the 2010 season and is a two-time first team All-Summit League selection and an Academic All-Summit League honoree. She also competed in five meets during the 2010 outdoor season recording season-best times of 2:25.53 in the 800 meters, 4:54.54 in the 1,500 meters and 10:54.37 in the 5,000 meters.
Jake Nielson, Men's Basketball
Eligibility Year/Hometown: Jr./Centennial, Colo.
Nielson played basketball throughout high school and has been able to continue that passion throughout college as well. He is preparing to take the LSAT exam and plans to attend law school following college graduation. The Centennial, Colo., native hopes to establish his own law firm with an emphasis in tax and real-estate law. Throughout his life, Nielson has been involved in many service activities. He is most proud of achieving the rank of Eagle Scout for the Boys Scouts of America, and serving a two year mission for his church in Seoul, South Korea. His experience has taught him time management, academic and physical discipline, and how to work hard to achieve his goals. As a Thunderbird, he recorded a career-high 29 points vs. McNeese State (11/16/09), nine rebounds at Centenary (12/3/09), seven assists vs. University of the Southwest (11/19/09) and UC Riverside (12/21/09) and five steals at Centenary (12/3/09). This season, Nielson is second on the team in steals and hit 5-of-6 shots en route to a team and personal season-high 15 points at IUPUI.
Caitlin Jensen, Volleyball
Eligibility Year/Hometown: So./Alpine, Utah
Jensen is a dedicated student-athlete who aspires to make positive contributions off the court as well. As a biology major, she is considering a career in medicine. The Alpine, Utah, native considers service to be a vital component of a well-lived life and has participated in a variety of volunteer activities through her church and other organizations. Jensen the starting libero for the 2010 SUU volleyball team, appeared in all 30 matches this season, leading the team in digs with 477, averaging 4.18 per set and finished third on the team in service aces with 22 (0.19 per set). This season she set the school record for digs in a four-set match (22) and five-set match (29). Jensen, a two-time Academic All-Summit League was recently named to the ESPN Academic All-District VIII team.