Sophomore Sensations: Holtan, Sonnek Named 2016-17 Gustavus Student-Athletes Of The Year

Posted on July 5th, 2017 by

ST. PETER, Minn. – The 2016-17 Gustavus Adolphus College academic year was full of exciting athletic achievements and special moments, and to officially close the book on the academic year, the Gustavus Sports Information Department is proud to announce two sophomore sensations as this year’s Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year. One year removed from receiving the College’s Newcomer of the Year awards, volleyball setter Nora Holtan (So., Rochester, Minn.) and swimmer Tanner Sonnek (So., North Mankato, Minn.) are the 2016-17 Gustavus Student-Athletes of the Year.

Nora Holtan

Holtan showed no signs of slowing down during her sophomore season, earning MIAC Volleyball Player of the Year after proving to be an all-around threat and the league’s top setter. The Rochester Mayo product led the Gusties to their second consecutive MIAC playoff title and first win at the NCAA Championships since 1986. Holtan was later named AVCA All-Region and then First Team All-American after recording 1,255 assists, marking the third most single season assists by a Gustie since 1992, which were also the most in the league by more than 300. Holtan surpassed the 2000-assist mark in her young career and currently ranks sixth in program history with 2,199 helpers. Holtan proved to be a true all-around player last season with 184 kills (1.46 per set), 292 digs (2.32 per set), 33 blocks (0.26 per set), and 29 aces (0.23 per set). Her .298 hitting percentage ranked third in the MIAC. In conference matches only, Holtan hit at a .358 clip, which was best in the league.

Tanner Sonnek

Sonnek had an extraordinary sophomore campaign in the pool as a staple of the men’s swimming and diving squad. The Mankato West product won multiple events leading up to the MIAC Championships where he claimed the 200-yard individual medley crown and then broke the meet record in the 100-yard breaststroke. He also repeated as the champion in the 200-yard breaststroke and contributed to four All-Conference relay teams, earning MIAC Men’s Swimmer of the Year. Sonnek went on to earn two All-America honors with a fifth-place finish in the 200 breaststroke and seventh-place finish in the 100 breaststroke at the NCAA Championships in Shenandoah, Texas. Sonnek set three school records this past season: 100 breaststroke (55.10), 200 breaststroke (2:02.12), and 200 IM (1:53.06).

This year, 12 male and nine female athletes were nominated. Once nominations are finalized, they are balloted and voted on by the head coaches at Gustavus. Coaches vote for their top-three athletes on both the men’s and women’s sides, awarding five points for a first place vote, three points for second place, and one point for third. On the men’s ballot, junior tennis player Mohanad Alhouni (Tripoli, Libya) took second in the voting, while sophomore throwing specialist Michael Hensch (North Branch, Minn.) took third. On the women’s ballot, junior basketball player Mikayla Miller (Goodhue, Minn.) garnered the second most votes, while senior softball pitcher Hannah Heacox (Stillwater, Minn.) took third.


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