Male athlete of the year: Andrew Brueggen, Track and Field
Even with the Track and Field season still in progress, this pick was a no-brainer.
Brueggen, winning this award for his second straight year, earned MIAC Field Athlete of the Week for the third time this season after automatically qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the hammer throw. Brueggen also set the school record in the process.
During the indoor season, Brueggen traveled to Columbus, Ohio to compete in the Division III Indoor National Championships in the weight throw. He finished 10th in his event, which was a disappointing mark, according to him. He won a MIAC conference championship during the indoor season with a school and conference-record throw of 19.68 meters; if he would have thrown that distance during the National Championships, he would have taken home the national title.
Female athlete of the year: Sarah Gardner, Volleyball
Winning the same award for the second consecutive year, Gardner was an easy pick.
Her accolades are numerous; she was named First-Team All-MIAC, AVCA All-Central Region and Honorable-Mention All-American. She led her team in kills (429) and service aces (47). Cardinal volleyball achieved a 21-10 record, finishing just shy of the national tournament. Their season ended with a loss to Saint Benedict in the MIAC tournament.
Gardner finishes her career near the top of several school records, including third in all-time kills (1419) and fourth in kills per set (3.20).
Newcomer of the year: Austin Balko, Hockey
Balko, a freshman from Midland, Mich., did very well for the men’s hockey team in a conference that is often dominated by upperclassmen.
Balko was named to the MIAC All-Rookie Team along with being selected honorable-mention All-MIAC. He was the only first-year player in the MIAC to average more than a point per game, as he accumulated six goals and a team-high 12 assists during conference play. Balko was part of a large freshman recruiting class that will contribute to Cardinal hockey for years to come.