Three Jacks Earn All-Summit League Honors
South Dakota State University women's basketball players Megan Waytashek and Steph Paluch earned All-Summit League honors, and Kerri Young was honored as the Summit League Sixth Woman of the Year and on the All-Newcomer Team Thursday as the league officials announced award winners prior to the start of the upcoming Summit League Basketball Championships. The tournament opens at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Sioux Falls Arena. The top-seeded Jackrabbits begin their journey to their sixth consecutive championship title Monday at noon.
In addition, Jackrabbit mentor Aaron Johnston was named Summit League Coach of the Year after leading South Dakota State to its fifth regular-season title. Votes by the league’s head coaches, sports information directors and select media members determined the conference awards.
Waytashek a junior from Lino Lakes, Minn., earned first-team honors for the second consecutive year. She led the team in scoring during Summit League play, averaging 10.9 points per game, while collecting 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Waytashek scored in double figures in 7 of 14 league games, including scoring 20-plus points in 2 outings. The guard/forward enters postseason play averaging 11.3 points per game in overall games.
Rounding out the All-Summit League First Team were IUPUI’s DeAirra Goss, Western Illinois’ Ashley Luke, South Dakota’s Nicole Seekamp, and Fort Wayne’s Amanda Hyde and Haley Seibert.
For the second consecutive year, Fort Wayne's Hyde was honored as the Summit League Player of the Year. A senior, Hyde leads the league in scoring at 22 points per game and is fifth in the league with an 88.4 free-throw percentage.
Paluch picked up second-team honors and was second on the Jackrabbits’ team in scoring in league play, averaging 10.9 points per game, and collecting 2.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per outing. The Pierre native, a two-time Summit League Player of the Week honoree, shot 38.4 from the field, including 36.4 from three-point range, and 82.2 from the free-throw line. Overall, the guard was second on the team in scoring (10.0) and assists (2.0).
Rounding out the All-Summit League Second Team were South Dakota’s Polly Harrington, Omaha’s Ericka House, North Dakota State’s Brooke LeMar and IUPUI’s Nevena Markovic.
Young becomes the second consecutive Jackrabbit and fourth overall to earn Sixth Woman of the Year honors for SDSU in the last seven seasons, joining Kristin Rotert (2007-08), Jill Young (2008-09) and Katie Lingle (2012-13). Additionally, the freshman is just the third Jack to be named to The Summit League All-Newcomer Team, following Young (2009) and Rotert (2008). The Mitchell native enters the league championship averaging 8.4 points and 2.7 rebounds while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 83.3 percent from the foul line in 14 league games.
Johnston earned Summit League Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time after guiding SDSU to a 13-1 mark in league play and a 22-8 overall record going into the Summit League Basketball Championship. Johnston is the Summit League’s career leader in both overall (.745) and league (.850) career winning percentage.
Other award winners included NDSU’s LeMar as The Summit League Newcomer of the Year and Omaha’s Taijhe Kelly as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.