(Editor’s note: Story by Montana Sports Information)
MISSOULA – Okay, this is getting a bit redundant: the Montana football team has achieved yet another academic milestone.
But if the academic success of the Grizzlies ever takes on a ho-hum feel — an air of Aren’t they always getting it done in the classroom? Is this even news anymore? — then you’ll know coach Bobby Hauck and his staff will have achieved something special. And what they set out to accomplish.
Montana, following a semester with a record GPA of 3.07, had 24 players make the Academic All-Big Sky Conference list for fall sports that was released on Thursday, part of the Grizzlies’ total of 51, which also included student-athletes from cross country, soccer and volleyball.
But when the football team has two dozen honored and that’s a 20-percent increase over the previous high for the program? With a total that ranked second among other football programs in the Big Sky? Then it’s that sport that gets lauded first among the others.
That nearly half of those recognized — 11 of 24 — were in their freshman year of eligibility in the fall points to two things. First, the recruiting plan, of identifying the right prospects, is working. And second, so is the internal support system that helps those Grizzlies get their academic careers off to a solid start.
“Our goal is to recruit players who are interested in their academic future as well as their football future,” said Hauck. “When we get them here, we try to provide them with structure that helps them learn how to study and manage their time, and ultimately how to be successful in the classroom.
“By the time those guys are juniors and seniors, we hope they’re self-sufficient enough that we can spend our time bringing the younger guys along. We always say, if you get to your fourth or fifth year and we’re still chasing you around, we recruited the wrong guy.”
In addition to 24 Montana football players making the Academic All-Big Sky list, 14 made it from coach Chris Citowicki’s soccer team, 10 from coach Vicky Pounds’ cross country program — six women, four men — and three from coach Allison Lawrence’s volleyball team.
Four of the 51 made it with a cumulative GPA of 4.0: junior Samantha Engebretsen and freshman Ben Cikutovich of the cross country program, freshman Zoe Transtrum of the soccer team and redshirt freshman Michael McGinnis of the football team.
A total of six seniors wrapped up their careers by earning Academic All-Big Sky in each of their four years of eligibility: Jessica Bailey of cross country, Janessa Fowler, Taryn Miller, Ellie Otteson and McKenzie Warren of soccer, and Cassie Laramee of volleyball.
Montana’s 2018 Fall Academic All-Big Sky Conference Selections
Men’s Cross Country: Ben Cikutovich (Fr., Psychology); Kyle Kredo (So., Media arts); Dillon May (Sr., Math education); Nathan Wellington (Sr., Health and human performance)
Women’s Cross Country: Jessica Bailey (Sr., Health and human performance); Chloe Cosgrove (Fr., Wildlife biology); Samantha Engebretsen (Jr., Social work); Erica Simison (Fr., Health and human performance); Rachel Torrey (Fr., Wildlife biology); Hannah Wylie (Fr., Biochemistry)
Football: Eli Alford (Fr., Undeclared); Colin Bingham (Jr., Health and human performance); Braydon Deming (Fr., Health and human performance); Bryson Deming (Fr., Health and human performance); Josh Egbo (So., Biology); Evan Epperly (Sr., History/Political science); Cam Humphrey (So., Communication studies); Skyler Martin (Fr., Economics); Michael Matthews (Fr., Business administration); Michael McGinnis (Fr., Business administration); Reid Miller (Sr., Business administration); RJ Nelson (Fr., Undeclared); Dante Olson (Jr., Management); Matt Rensvold (Fr., Wildlife biology); Mitch Roberts (Fr., Business administration); Tim Semenza (Jr., Management information systems); Cy Sirmon (Jr., Health and human performance); Dalton Sneed (Jr., Communication studies); Payton Stoner (So., Business administration); Gabe Sulser (Fr., History); Reggie Tilleman (Sr., Finance); Marcus Welnel (Fr., Undeclared); Eric Williams (Sr., Finance); Adam Wilson (Jr., Political science)
Soccer: Avery Adams (So., Undeclared); Alexa Coyle (So., Management information systems); Janessa Fowler (Sr., Health and human performance); Kylie Hanson (Fr., Undeclared); Claire Howard (So., Communication studies); McKenzie Kilpatrick (Fr., Undeclared); Taryn Miller (Sr., Economics); Ali Monroe (Fr., Business administration); Ellie Otteson (Sr., Health and human performance); Caitlin Rogers (Fr., Health and human performance); Sami Siems (Fr., Communication studies); Zoe Transtrum (Fr., Undeclared); McKenzie Warren (Sr., Marketing); Kennedy Yost (So., Biology)
Volleyball: Mykaela Hammer (Sr., Management); Cassie Laramee (Sr., Sociology); Sarina Moreno (Fr., Undeclared)