Senior Winona State athletes reflect on their collegiate careers

Fifth-year+Rylee+Stout+lines+up+to+bat.+The+Warriors+shared+a+split+with+UMD%2C+winning+3-1+and+losing+10-7.

Joseph Eichele

Fifth-year Rylee Stout lines up to bat. The Warriors shared a split with UMD, winning 3-1 and losing 10-7.

Syerah Mulhern-Allred, sports editor

As the semester comes to an end, so do 20 of Winona State University student’s athletic careers.

From the baseball team this includes Nick Herold, Zach Watzka and Dillon Whittaker, who all played as pitchers in their career at Winona State.

Nick Herold from Coon Rapids, Minn, will graduate with a degree in business administration and has played for the team since 2018. Throughout his career, Herold has been a strong asset to the team as he sits 4-1 this season. In 2019, Herold made the NSIC All-Tournament team through 19 relief appearances and ranked second in the conference in saves. In total, Herold has pitched at least part of 60 games in his career.

Moving onto Zach Watzka fromGreen Bay, Wis., who will graduate with a degree in marketing, has been at Winona State since 2020. The fourth-year has pitched some big innings this season and has been heavily relied on.

Last from our baseball team is Dillon Whittaker from Waconia, Minn. who has been on the team since 2018 and has been in the starting rotation since then.

Fifth-year pitcher, Nicholas Her- old, pictured lining up to throw. Herold allowed only 1 hit in the first five innings.
Fifth-year pitcher, Nicholas Herold, pictured lining up to throw. Herold allowed only 1 hit in the first five innings. (Joseph Eichele)

From softball there are five graduating seniors, Rylee Stout, Marissa Mullen, Ann Smolenski, Kayla Kerkman and Liz Pautz.

Rylee Stout is a catcher from West Chicago, Ill. who has had quite the record here as a Warrior. Stout has earned Presidential Scholar Athlete four years in a row and All-Academic Team of Excellence three years in a row. On top of that, she has started in 150 games not including the 2022 season.

“My favorite year at Winona State on the softball team was our 2019 season when we went 30-0
in conference.” Stout said. “This is something that will most likely never be done again, and I was able to play alongside some amazing athletes to make it happen.”

Marissa Mullen is an outfielder from Appleton, Wis. who transferred to Winona State from Bowling Green State University in Ohio in 2019. Mullen has earned Presidential Scholar Athlete all three years that she has been at Winona State and NSIC Academic Team of Excellence this past year.

When asked what mark Mullen hopes to leave on the Winona State Softball program, she said, “That building real, authentic relationships with those around you is extremely important and makes life way more fun!”

Ann Smolenski is an infielder at third base from Lynn Center, Ill. Smolenski has earned Presidential Scholar Athlete the past three years as well as NSIC All-Academic Team in 2020 and NSIC First team and Gold Glove in 2019.

“A mark that I would hope to leave on Winona State Athletics and Winona State softball would be to love your teammates and the game with everything you have,” Smolenski said. “To cherish every moment the game gives you, always make sure to have fun and to always play with passion and pride!”

Smolenski has started in 150 games, not including this season, and she has had a .995 fielding percentage in the 2021 season.

Kayla Kerkman is an outfielder from Burlington, Wis. who has started in 62 games not including this season and made the 2019 NSIC All-Tournament team.

Lastly is pitcher Liz Pautz from Pulaski, Wis. who has had quite the record since transferring here from University of Wisconsin – Green Bay in 2019.

During her first season as a Warrior, Pautz earned NSIC All-Tournament Team, First Team, Newcomer of the Year and Academic Team of Excellence as well as Presidential Scholar Athlete. Pautz also ranked second in the country in the ERA and Ks/7 innings.

In the 2020 season, which was unfortunately cut short due to COVID-19, Pautz also earned NSIC Academic Team of Excellence and Presidential Scholar Athlete.

In the most recent 2021 season, Pautz accomplished NSIC Academic Team of Excellence and Elite 18 Award Winner and Presidential scholar athlete for the third year in a row.

All four softball seniors were honored with the Myles Brand All-Academic with Distinction Awards this spring as well.

Winona State softball pitcher, Liz Pautz, during a game. Contributed from a member of the team.
Winona State softball pitcher, Liz Pautz, during a game. Contributed from a member of the team.

Moving onto tennis, the two seniors are Brooke Holloway and Rina Niehoff.

Holloway from Anoka, Minn., she most recently gave Winona State the number five singles point with two victories against Sioux Falls.

In the 2021 season, Holloway went 3-1 at number six singles and in 2020 went 1-0 at the number six singles and number three doubles. During her debut year in 2019, Holloway went 1-0 at singles number five and 1-1 at doubles number three.

Holloway most recently won both singles sets and a doubles in the matchup that sent the team to the NSIC Tournament Championship.

Niehoff is a graduate student from St. Petersburg, Russia. Among her awards and honors are NSIC Honorable Mention singles and doubles in 2021, NSIC Myles Brand All-Academic with Distinction, NSIC All-Academic Team of Excellence in both 2020 and 2021, DII ADA Academic Award in 2020 and Presidential Scholar Athlete Award three years straight.

In the 2021 season Holloway finished with a record of 13-2 in number three singles and 12-1 in number two doubles.

Among men’s and women’s golf, there are four graduating seniors. On the women’s team is Lexi Bell and on the men’s team is Dylan Brown, Matthew Chandler and Abraham Elmore.

Photo of the Winona State Women’s golf team golfer Alexa Bell from the Winona State University’s athletics website.

Lexi Bell from Wahpeton, N.D. has been on the starting lineup all year and played six events as a first-year with a 94.6 scoring average.

Dylan Brown from Reedsburg, Wis. earned 2021 NSIC All-Academic and played nine events as a first-year and has stayed on the starting lineup this year.

Matthew Chandler is a graduate student from Chester Novia Scotia, Canada who earned All NSIC First-Team, All-Academic and Myles Brand All-Academic with Distinction in 2021.

Finally, Abraham Elmore is from Mesa, Ariz., and he has played in six events as a first-year with a 79.4 scoring average and a season low of 72.

All three men’s golf seniors also earned All-NSIC honors this season.

Among track and field there are eight graduating seniors this year, Shereen Vallabouy, Brooklyn Schyvinck, Madison Rizner, Michaela Pryor, Maddy Pietz, Katie Miller, Samantha Kaye and Allison Hendrickson.

Hendrickson from Becker, Minn. was honored with 2019 NSIC All-Academic Team and 2018 USTFCCCA All-Academic. Hendrickson also participated in cross country during all her years at Winona State.

Most recently, Hendrickson won the women’s 5,000 meters at University of Wisconsin La Crosse Phil Esten Challenge.

“Some of my favorite times have been running with my teammates in crazy weather, like hail and snowstorms,” Hendrickson said. “My team has been the best—they make every travel day, practice, lift, and race fun and memorable.”

Kaye is a distance runner from Round Lake, Ill. who was honored with 2019 NSIC All-Academic team.

Miller is a distance runner from Cedarburg, Wis. who was also honored with 2019 NSIC All-Academic team.

Pietz is from Birnamwood, Wis. and is a sprint and jumps athlete on the team. In 2021, Pietz made the Outdoor 2nd team All-American in the 4×100, indoor 1st team All-American in the 4×400, outdoor all-conference in the 4×400 and 4×100, indoor all-conference in the 4×400 and USTFCCCA in the All-Academic in the 2019 and 2021.

Pryor is from Waukesha, Wis. and had quite the eventful 2021 season. In the outdoor season, Pryor made 2nd team All-American, All-Region in the 4×100, All-Conference in the 4×100 and All-Conference in the 200m. During the indoor season Pryor earned 2nd team All-American in the 200m. During 2019 Pryor earned Outdoor All-Conference in the 200m and 4x100m. She also accomplished USTFCCCA All-Academic in 2018-19 and 2020-21.

Pryor sits on the record board multiple times with the outdoor 100m, indoor 200m and indoor 60m.

Rizner was a two-sport athlete among volleyball and track and field and did jumps. In 2019, Rizner placed 10th at the NSIC Championships in outdoor. Rizner also sits on the record board for high jump.

Schyvinck has earned a plethora of awards and honors. In 2021 she earned Outdoor Conference Championship and All Conference in the 4×400. During the 2021 indoor season Schyvinck made conference champion in the 400 and the 4x400m and 1st team All-American in both events as well.

During the 2020 season which was cut short, Schyvinck made Indoor 1st team All-American and All Conference in the 400m and the 4x400m and USTFCCCA All-Academic.

Throughout the 2019 outdoor season, Schyvinck accomplished Conference Champion, Second Team All-American and All-Conference in the 4×400.

In the 2019 indoor season, Schyvinck made conference champion, all-conference and 1st team All-American in both events. Schyvinck also made USTFCCCA All-Academic in 2018 and 2019 and All-Academic Team of Excellence in both outdoor and indoor.

Vallabouy from Ipoh, Malaysia marked the outdoor season school record in the 400m this season and won the 400m at an invitational twice this season.

Vallabouy sits on the 4×400 that hit new records in both indoor and outdoor back in 2019 along with Schyvinck.

These seniors will be deeply missed by the entire Winona State Athletics community, and The Winonan wish them their best on future endeavors.