USD's Nilsen earns ninth player of the month award through Summit League

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.—South Dakota junior Chris Nilsen has been named the Summit League April Athlete of the Month as announced by the league office on Tuesday.

Nilsen receives the monthly honor for the ninth time of his career, a league record. He also has 21 Summit League Track and Field Athlete of the Week awards in his career with three coming in April.

The junior pole vaulter cleared 19 feet in back-to-back weeks to cap off a successful month with four meet victories.

Nilsen jumped 19-1 at the Beach Invitational on April 20 to take the world lead in the pole vault. He held onto that lead for a week before it was topped by freshman sensation Mondo Duplantis of LSU. Nilsen followed up that performance by winning the elite section of the Drake Relays with a vault of 19-2 ¼. He earned the 2019 Maury White Award for the Drake Relays Most Outstanding Performer as voted on by the media. Nilsen made history at Drake, becoming the second collegian to upset a reigning World Champion and Olympic medalist by topping Sam Kendricks.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Nilsen is a two-time NCAA Champion and five-time All-American in the pole vault. He looks to defend his Summit League outdoor title on Wednesday in Macomb, Illinois.

Nilsen becomes the fifth Coyote to garner the Summit League Athlete of the Month in 2018-19. He joins cross country runner Eldon Warner (October), volleyball middle blocker Taylor Wilson (November), women's basketball guard Ciara Duffy (January) and softball player Jamie Holscher (February).