Duffy, Nilsen honored as South Dakota Athletes of the Year

Senior basketball player Ciara Duffy and senior track and field star Chris Nilsen receive the top honors as South Dakota Athletes of the Year announced Friday in a digital version of The Charlies, the athletics annual award ceremony that was moved online this year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Duffy picks up the Catie Tobin Female Athlete of the Year award. This adds to the long list of postseason awards Duffy has garnered this spring including honorable mention All-America recognition from the Associated Press, the espnW Mid-Major Player of the Year, the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year presented by Her Hoops Stats and the Summit League Player of the Year. She is a three-time Academic All-American as well, garnering a spot on the first team for the second-straight season.

A native of Rapid City, South Dakota, Duffy averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and five assists per game this season. She graduates as the only player in program history with more than 1,700 points, 600 rebounds and 400 assists. Duffy finishes third on USD’s career scoring charts with 1,793 points.

Nilsen takes home the Dr. John Van Why Male Athlete of the Year award for the third time in his four years. A three-time NCAA Champion, Nilsen broke the NCAA indoor pole vault record this season by vaulting 19 feet, 5 ½ inches (5.93m). Nilsen was named the 2020 USTFCCCA National Indoor Field Athlete of the Year, becoming the first Coyote to receive such national recognition in the Division I era. Nilsen is a four-time USTFCCCA Midwest Field Athlete of the Year and six-time Summit League Field Athlete of the Year.

Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, Nilsen boasts three golds, two silvers and a bronze from his six NCAA Championships. He broke a 22-year-old outdoor meet record in 2018 and then vaulted a personal best of 19-6 ¼ (5.95m) in 2019 to improve the NCAA meet record by another five inches.

The women’s athlete of the year award is named for Catie Tobin, who was one of the first female track and field athletes to compete for the University of South Dakota. The men’s athlete of the year is named for Dr. John Van Why, the University’s former physical education department chair who pushed for the importance of athletics and physical activity in the 1950s.

Recipients of the Catie Tobin and Dr. John Van Why awards over the past decade are listed below.

Catie Tobin Female Athlete of the Year

2020: Ciara Duffy, basketball

2019: Hayley Dotseth, volleyball

2018: Shanice Cannigan, track and field

2017: Audrey Reeg, volleyball

2016: Nicole Seekamp, basketball

2015: Nicole Seekamp, basketball

2014: Kendall Kritenbrink, volleyball

2013: Bethany Buell, track and field

2012: Amber Hegge, basketball

2011: Amber Hegge, basketball

2010: Ramsey Fitzsimmons, cross country / track and field

Dr. John Van Why Male Athlete of the Year

2020: Chris Nilsen, track and field

2019: Chris Nilsen, track and field

2018: Chris Streveler, football

2017: Chris Nilsen, track and field

2016: Teivaskie Lewin, track and field

2015: Teivaskie Lewin, track and field

2014: Tyler Starr, football

2013: Jeff Mettler, cross country / track and field

2012: Tom Compton, football

2011: Will Powell, football

2010: Noah Shepard, football; Tyler Cain, basketball

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