NDSU winter sports athletes collect awards

Franek repeats as NCAA Elite 90 winner

Wrapping up a busy and largely successful winter campaign, Bison athletes from NDSU’s winter sports programs collected many conference, league and national awards.

Jared Franek Elite 90 Award –

            Leading off the parade of awards is wrestling’s Jared Franek. Franek, who finished fourth in the NCAA tournament in Tulsa, Okla., repeated as the NCAA Elite 90 champion for wrestling. The NCAA presented the Harwood, N.D. native with the award prior to Saturday night’s championship round at the BOK Center.

            Franek, a senior 157-pound wrestler for the Bison, has a 4.00 grade-point average majoring in sport management with a minor in business administration. Franek is North Dakota State’s 19th Elite 90 award winner across five different sports, and he is the fourth Bison to win the award multiple times, joining Carson Wentz (3x), Clay Ream (3x) and Cole Wisniewski (2x). It is the fifth award for the wrestling program since 2016.

NDSU’s Jared Franek is named the NCAA Elite 90 Award winner for wrestling. It is the second-consecutive season Franek has won the prestigious academic honor. Photo Courtesy | Jacob Reiner

            The Elite 90, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 90 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the site of the finals for each of the NCAA’s championships.

Grant Nelson named to All-District Teams

            The U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) released its 2022-23 men’s basketball all-district teams on Tuesday, following voting from its national membership. North Dakota State’s Grant Nelson was selected to the All-District Team in District VI, which includes every Division I school in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

            Nelson becomes just the second Bison to earn the USBWA All-District honor, joining Ben Woodside in 2009. Only 90 total players are honored as All-District by the USBWA each season – 10 players from nine geographic districts.

NDSU’s Grant Nelson was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) All-District teams. Nelson led NDSU in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals this season. Photo Courtesy | NDSU Athletics

            Nelson also earned All-District recognition from the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC); the organization announced Tuesday. Nelson was voted to the District 12 first team. Nelson joins Ben Woodside (2009), Taylor Braun (2014), Lawrence Alexander (2015), and Vinnie Shahid (2020) as the five Bison who have earned first-team NABC All-District honors in the Division I era.

            Nelson led NDSU in points (19.9 ppg), rebounds (9.8 rpg), assists (2.4 apg), blocks (1.7 bpg) and steals (1.1 spg) – both for Summit League play and for the entire season. He was the only player in the league’s top 11 for all five of those stat categories and the only player in the league’s top five for scoring and field goal percentage.

Hamling & Evans earn All-Summit Honors –

            Senior guard Heaven Hamling has been named to the All-Summit League First Team, while freshman guard Elle Evans has been tabbed the Freshman of the Year to go along with earning a spot on the All-Defensive Team, All-Newcomer Team and picking up Honorable Mention All-Summit League honors, the league office announced on Thursday afternoon.

            Evans becomes the first player in program history to be named the Summit League Freshman of the Year and is also the first Bison player to earn Summit League All-Defensive Team honors in program history.  Additionally, she is the only freshman to earn All-Defensive Team accolades this season. Evans led all freshmen and ranked 11th in conference games averaging 13.8 points per game. She also paced all freshmen and ranked second in the Summit League in blocks with 32.

NDSU’s Elle Evans was selected to the Summit League’s All-Defensive team and named the Summit League’s Freshman of the Year. Photo Courtesy | NDSU Athletics

            Evans reached double figures in scoring in 15 of 18 conference games, including two 20-point performances and a streak of 12 straight games to end the regular season. The Edwardsville, Ill., native notched her first career double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds at Omaha.

            On the defensive side of the court, Evans contributed three or more blocks in five games, including a season-high five in the win over Oral Roberts, which marked the most blocks by a Bison player in a single game since 2018.     

            Meanwhile, Hamling becomes the first NDSU player to earn All-Summit League First Team honors since 2016 after ranking in the top five in three-pointers (2nd, 48), steals (2nd, 2.3), three-point percentage (4th, .353), points per game (4th, 17.02) and assists (5th, 70) in league play. She was also named the Summit League Peak Performer of the Week three times this season.

            Hamling reached double figures in scoring in 13 of 18 Summit League games, including seven 20-point performances and one 30-point game. The Grand Rapids, Minn., native created 41 total steals and notched three or more in seven games. She also hauled in 91 rebounds and passed out 70 assists.

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