FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – In a year with several impressive performances from newcomers to the NAU Athletics family, track and cross country runner Brian Shrader and swimmer Ellie Morrissey have been named the NAU male and female Newcomers of the Year.
Shrader, a native of Flagstaff, led a team of mostly new faces to a fourth-place team finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in November with his All-American 15th-place individual performance. A redshirt sophomore transfer from Oregon, Schrader was the Big Sky Champion earlier in the cross country season after compiling two regular season meet wins to boot in his first season with the Lumberjacks.
In his first indoor track and field season with NAU, Shrader put up the third-fastest times in school history in the 800 meters (1:49.93) and the mile (3:59.52). He also put up the third-most points of any athlete at the Big Sky Indoor Championships with a conference title in the 800 meters, a silver medal in the mile, and a bronze in the 3,000 meters. Shrader heads into this weekend's Big Sky Outdoor Championships ranked third in the 800 meters, second in the 1,500 meters, and eighth in the 5,000 meters.
"I'm both very proud and humbled by being named NAU newcomer of the year," Shrader said. "This was really a breakthrough year for me and none of it would have been possible without the support from my team, my coaches, and the university. NAU and the community have welcomed me back with open arms and I am extremely proud to represent the Lumberjacks."
Morrissey was named Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Freshman of the Year after winning six total medals at the WAC Championships. Individually she won gold in the 100 freestyle, silver in the 200 individual medley, and bronze in the 50 freestyle while breaking two school records and recording two NCAA 'B' times. The freshman from Huntington Beach, Calif. established new program records in the 100 free in 49.22 seconds and the 200 IM in 2:01.00 while also swimming the second fastest 50 free time in program history.
She was also a part of NAU's winning 400 medley relay team and the squad that finished second in the 800 freestyle relay and third in the 400 free relay. She totaled four All-WAC First Team honors and also had a superb regular season with nine individual event wins and six relay event wins. Morrissey won multiple individual events in four different meets, including two wins apiece against Washington State and Colorado State, and totaled 14 second place finishes during the regular season.
"Freshman year at NAU exceeded my expectations, not only academically but also athletically," Morrissey said. "I am so fortunate to have amazing, motivated teammates and coaches who absolutely thrive on getting the best out of their athletes. Receiving the NAU Female Newcomer of the Year award only makes me more excited to see what I can bring to NAU athletics over the next three years."
Men: Lucky Dozier, Football; DeWayne Russell, Basketball
Women: Savana Bezdicek, Golf; Payton Bock, Volleyball; Demi Schmieder, Soccer; Julia Viberg, Track & Field