Neuharth and Junker named Bemidji State’s 2019-20 Athletes of the Year

Neuharth and Junker named Bemidji State’s 2019-20 Athletes of the Year
Thursday, April 30, 2020
Neuharth and Junker named Bemidji State’s 2019-20 Athletes of the Year

BEMIDJI, Minn. - Bemidji State University soccer captain Tia Neuharth and Michael Junker, of the BSU football team, were named 2019-20 Female and Male Athletes of the Year to culminate an afternoon of individual and team recognition by BSU Athletics for academic and athletic excellence. The award winners were selected from a pool of nominated student-athletes from all 15 of BSU’s intercollegiate sport programs.

In addition, Zöe Christensen, also of the outdoor track and field team, and men’s hockey standout Elias Rosén were selected BSU’s 2019-20 Female and Male Newcomers of the Year, while Jared Henning was selected as the recipient of the inaugural Bemidji State University Community Impact Award. In addition, Alex Adams, Samantha Edlund, Hunter Haggenmiller, Taylor Neir, Hannah Peterson, Ryin Prigge Carolyn Smith, Allyna Storms, and Kara Werth, and picked up Female and Male Scholar Athlete of the Year honors for achieving a perfect 4.0 GPA and the women’s hockey (3.69) and men’s hockey (3.54) teams collected the top academic team awards.

Traditionally celebrated together in the form of a banquet, this year the awards were recognized virtually as the department rolled out award announcements and highlights on its social media platforms. In addition, the five major award winners each made an appearance by submitting videos greeting fellow student-athletes, reminiscing about their time in the Beaver green and white and wishing them well.

Over the course of the last two weeks, BSU Athletics has also recognized its more than 60 seniors on its social media platforms along with a senior tribute video.

Tia Neuharth – Soccer (Senior, Defender, Prior Lake, Minn.)
Neuharth, A captain and three-time All-NSIC selection and two-time first-team pick, started all 19 games on the Beavers’ back line in 2019 and played in a team-high 1,720 minutes. A captain and key member of a BSU defensive unit that allowed just eight goals during the Beavers’ 15-game NSIC schedule, or .517 goals per NSIC game, to rank second in the league, while its .680 overall goals against average placed it among the top 50 teams in the nation. In addition, BSU posted seven shutouts. A member of the NSIC All-Academic Team of Excellence, Neuharth was also selected to the United Soccer Coaches’ All-Central Region First Team and earned Division II Scholar All-America Third Team honors from United Soccer Coaches following the season.

She finished her senior season atop BSU’s all-time starts list with 78, while she is tied for first in matches played with 79. At 6,554 minutes played, only Alysha Domiano (2007-10) has logged more minutes as a Beaver (6,720).  She leaves BSU with three goals, which include a pair of game-winners, and five assists for 11 points. 

Michael Junker – Football (Senior, Defensive Back, Hastings, Minn.)
Junker, a defensive back was the NSIC leader in interceptions and finished tied for fourth nationally with eight on his way to earning 2019 NSIC North Division All-Conference First Team Defense.  He returned two interceptions for touchdowns and led the nation with 272 interception return yards this season. In addition to being named First-Team all NSIC, at the conclusion of the season, Junker was recognized as an All-American by Don Hansen’s Football Gazette, American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Division-II Collegiate Commissioners Association and, setting a BSU record for All-American awards. 

Junker finished his career as BSU’s all-time leader in interception return yards (378) and the program’s runner-up in career interceptions (17).

Zoë Christensen – Outdoor Track and Field (Freshman (Spring 2019), Thrower, Glenco, Minn.)
Following a tremendous indoor season, Christensen recorded one of the greatest outdoor season of BSU outdoor track and field. Her 47-11.25 mark in the shot put stood as the best mark by a freshman in BSU history and ranked third all time. She went on to placed fourth at the NSIC Championships and provisionally qualify for the NCAA Championships and the season rolled along. She finished the 2019 campaign ranked 11th in the Central Region, and was the top freshman, 30th in the nation and was fourth among freshmen across the country in the shot. Her 167-6 in the hammer throw ranked second at BSU all time and stands as the top throw by a freshman all time. She placed fifth in the hammer at the NSIC Championships, ranked 17th in the central region and second among freshman, while her hammer throw mark finished the season ranked fifth among all freshman competing at the NCAA Division II level.

Elias Rosén – Men’s Hockey (Freshman, Defender, Mora, Sweden)
Rosén earned a spot on the All-WCHA Third Team as well as being named to the All-Rookie Team to cap his rookie season. The native of Mora, Sweden was fourth on the team in scoring with 24 points (5g-19a), while sitting second with 19 assists and 14 points (2g-12a) on the man advantage. The newcomer assembled a five-game point streak and netted four multi-point games, which included a three-point (1g-2a) night, Nov. 22, to lead BSU to a 7-0 victory versus Alabama-Huntsville. He not only led all BSU freshmen in scoring, he also paced WCHA newcomers and was second among all WCHA blueliners with 22 points in league play (4g-18a) and tied for the scoring lead among freshman defenders across the country. 

Jared Henning – Football (Senior, Quarterback, Jackson, Wis.)
On the field, Henning saw his senior season cut short due to injury, but that didn’t stop the Jackson, Wis. native from making a positive impact both on campus and in the community. He was the president of and completed his four year as a member of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), first serving as a member before becoming vice president in 2016 and serving as president for the last two years. As president, Henning has spearheaded several initiatives including raising money for and organizing wish granting events for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, coordinating a youth carnival in the BSU dorms for Halloween, setting up the Mr. Beaver competition and helping set up Mental Health Awareness/Sexual Violence Prevention presentations. In 2019-20 he led the group in a campaign to raise funds to purchase a motorized wheel chair for a young Bemidji girl and the group surpassed $17,000. Since Henning took over as president of SAAC, he has also helped establish Beaver Fever Fridays, which is an opportunity for Beaver student-athletes to read to youth in the community, and babysitting at BSU on Valentine’s Day.

As president of SAAC, Henning has represented BSU at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference SAAC to take part in community outreach, leadership conventions and discussions about the conference as a whole. He has also served as the representative for all male sports on campus in regards to Title IX issues. In addition, Henning is also a lead member for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on campus.

In 2018, Henning was recognized as one of 22 members on the Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team® to celebrate his unparalleled commitment to the BSU campus and community.

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Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs. BSU’s NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey programs are members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.