USD’s Nilsen, Grove Earn April Athlete of the Month Awards

South Dakota's Chris Nilsen & Emily Grove
South Dakota's Chris Nilsen & Emily Grove

April Athletes of the Month Release 

ELMHURST, Ill. - The Summit League selected South Dakota men's track & field student-athlete Chris Nilsen (Kansas City, Mo.) as the Male Athlete of the Month and South Dakota women's track & field athlete Emily Grove (Pontiac, Ill.) as the Female Athlete of the Month for April.

Nilsen is awarded his fourth consecutive Athlete of the Month honor after taking sole possession of the NCAA lead in the pole vault. The freshman recorded a height of 18' 9.5" (5.72m) at the Sioux City Relays April 21. Nilsen was also recently named to Bowerman Award Watch List for the third straight time this season. A four-time outdoor track & field Athlete of the Week, he won five pole vault competitions during the month of April and placed second in the Drake Relays elite competition, behind 2016 Olympic Games Bronze Medalist Sam Kendricks, with a mark of 18' 4.5" (5.60m). Nilsen becomes the first athlete in league history to earn the award in four consecutive months.

Grove captures her second career Athlete of the Month award and first this season after recording a NCAA-leading height of 15' 1.0" (4.59m) at the Sioux City Relays on April 21. Named the USTFCCCA Athlete of the Week following that performance, Grove became just the ninth collegiate woman in history to break the 15-foot barrier. The senior won five pole vault competitions in April, including the historic Drake Relays (14' 3.25", 4.35m), and finished as the top collegiate vaulter at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays (14' 9.0", 4.50m).

Also nominated for the Men's Athlete of the Month: Diogo Rocha, Denver, tennis; Zach Schroeder, Fort Wayne, golf; Reed Pfannenstein, North Dakota State, baseball; Noah Cummings, Oral Roberts, baseball; Joel Reichow, South Dakota State, track & field; Drue Galassi, Western Illinois, baseball

Also nominated for the Women's Athlete of the Month: Maureen Slattery, Denver, tennis; Monica Dorner, Fort Wayne, golf; Taylor Chitwood, IUPUI, softball; Alyssa Olin, North Dakota State, track & field; Cameron Hilliard, Oral Roberts, track & field; Emily Ira, Western Illinois, softball

Celebrating its 35th season of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of over 120,000 at nine institutions, including four located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced eight NCAA Champions along with over 80 Academic All-Americans, 75 All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level. For more information about the league, visit website, follow The Summit League on Twitter @thesummitleague and watch the weekly "Inside The Summit League" show at


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