Here are this year’s college award winners as determined by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association:
Valley City State softball
Valley City State's record season included 54 wins – shattering the old school record of 40 – and the program's third appearance at the NAIA World Series.
The Vikings set more than a dozen team or individual records and won the North Star Athletic Association regular-season championship and the NSAA tournament championship. They won the NAIA opening-round championship before advancing to the World Series in Springfield, Mo.
Valley City finished the season ranked No. 6 in the country – the highest ranking in program history.
(Other finalists: North Dakota State softball)
Emily Smith, Valley City State softball
Smith, a junior pitcher from Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, was named an NAIA second-team All-American who helped guide the Vikings to the NAIA World Series.
Smith set a new school record for wins after posting a 33-1 record. Smith had a 1.18 earned run average and struck out 262 batters in 195.2 innings. Smith finished the season ranked third in the nation in wins, ninth in opponent batting average (.177) and ninth in earned run average.
At the plate, she batted .398 with 10 doubles and 30 RBIs.
(Other finalists: Akealy Moton, North Dakota State track and field)
Mike Mook, Valley City State softball
Mook, in his fourth season as Valley City State’s head coach, guided the Vikings to a 54-5 record and an appearance in the NAIA World Series.
The 54 wins shattered the old school record of 40. The Vikings finished the season ranked No. 6 in the country - the highest ranking in program history.
Mook’s Vikings went 39-12 in 2018, 21-31 in 2017 and 40-13 in 2016. A native of Boscobel, Wis., Mook was an assistant coach at Augustana (S.D.) before coming to Valley City State. Mook, a Winona State graduate, was the head coach at Hastings (Minn.) High School from 2005 to 2008.
(Other finalists: Shauna Kemp, Jamestown wrestling; Darren Mueller, North Dakota State softball)
North Dakota State football
Loaded with 24 seniors, the Bison rolled to a 15-0 record - outscoring its opponents 41.5-12.6. NDSU surpassed Georgia Southern for the most titles in FCS history - becoming the fifth FCS team to finish an undefeated season as national champions, joining the 2013 Bison team.
The Bison defeated Eastern Washington 38-24 in the national championship game, claiming their seventh national title in the last eight years.
(Other finalists: North Dakota State basketball, Jamestown basketball)
Payton Otterdahl, North Dakota State track and field
Jay Liggins, Dickinson State football
Otterdahl, a senior from Rosemount, Minn., swept the NCAA Division I indoor titles in the shot put and weight throw and added a runner-up finish in the discus and fourth place in the shot put at the outdoor championships.
Otterdahl was named the United States Track and Field Coaches Association national men’s indoor field athlete of the year, after setting the all-time collegiate record in the shot put. He has also been named one of 10 semifinalists for The Bowerman - the highest honor in collegiate track and field.
Liggins, a Bismarck High School graduate, is a two-time NAIA All-American defensive back who signed a free-agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. The 6-foot, 200-pounder finished his Dickinson State career with 14 intercpetions, including 8 during his senior season. He set a single-game record with four interceptions against Northwestern (Iowa).
(Other finalists: Easton Stick, North Dakota State football)
Chris Klieman, North Dakota State football
Klieman guided the Bison to a 15-0 record and a Football Championship Subdivision title.
Under Klieman, who would later leave NDSU to become the head coach at Kansas State, the Bison were 69-6 with four national titles in five years and 112-8 with seven titles in eight years since he joined the program as an assistant.
(Other finalists: Dave Richman, North Dakota State basketball; Justin St. Clair, North Dakota State track and field)