Courtesy: Spencer Farrin (Pullman, Wash.)
|Vandals sweep Stan Bates Award|
DENVER – University of Idaho student-athletes Kayla Mortellaro and Markus Geiger were honored on Monday as the recipients of the Western Athletic Conference’s Stan Bates Awards, which annually are awarded to the league’s top male and female scholar-athletes.
It marks the second time in three years that Idaho student-athletes have swept the awards, which are named in honor of former WAC commissioner Stan Bates and recognizes the recipient’s athletic, academic and community accomplishments. The awards also include a $2,000 postgraduate scholarship.
After its two honorees for 2011-12, Idaho now has eight total Stan Bates Award recipients, which is the most by any WAC school since the award was established in 1981. Mortellaro is the first women’s golfer in award history, while Geiger is the fifth Vandal cross country/track and field athlete to be so honored.
“We have always taken great pride in seeing our student-athletes succeed academically, athletically and in the community,” Idaho director of athletics Rob Spear said. “To become the all-time leader in 50-year history of the WAC is a testament to this commitment.”
Mortellaro (Phoenix, Ariz.) holds Idaho school records for career wins (10) and career scoring average (72.80) and shares the record with a low round of 65. She won back-to-back individual WAC titles in 2011 and 2012 and was the WAC Women’s Golfer of the Year three times in a row from 2010-12, in addition to being the 2009 WAC Women’s Freshman of the Year. She is also a two-time NGCA Honorable Mention All-America pick.
She is a four-time First-Team All-WAC selection, a five-time WAC Golfer of the Month and a nine-time WAC Golfer of the Week. She was an NCAA Regional qualifier every year of her career. She finished in the top five in nearly 62 percent of her career tournaments and in to the top 10 in 76.2 percent of her appearances.
“Kayla has the unique ability to lead by example – she stands strong in her convictions, lives responsibly, and always gives the best of herself,” coach Lisa Johnson said. “Kayla’s teammates and friends would describe her as fun, down-to-earth and humble.”
As a senior in 2011-12, Mortellaro won the Price’s Give ‘Em Five Invitational and the Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational in addition to the WAC Championships, posted five below-par final scores in 11 tournaments and finished in a tie for 16th at the NCAA West Regional.
Mortellaro earned her degree in Public Relations in May with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.84. She was a WAC All-Academic honoree every year of her Idaho career and was a four-time NGCA All-American Scholar recipient. She earned the Kathy Clark Scholar-Athlete Award in both 2011 and 2012 for Idaho women’s golf and was honored in 2012 with the prestigious Alumni Award for Excellence, which is given annually to the top student in each college at the University of Idaho.
As a member of the Vandal women’s golf team, Mortellaro took part in the team’s Vandal Pen Pals program every year, as well as taking part in Christmas for Kids, which shopped for and wrapped gifts for families in need. She also was an active participant in Idaho’s Trick or Treat With the Vandals every year at the Kibbie Dome.
In 2011, she volunteered her time at a golf tournament in her hometown of Phoenix, Ariz., to raise money for the Arizona Special Olympics.
Geiger (Bad Neustadt, Germany) is a two-time WAC champion and 14-time All-WAC honoree between indoor and outdoor track and field and cross country. He was the 2011 WAC Men’s Indoor co-Outstanding Track Performer and claimed the 2008 WAC Men’s Cross Country and 2009 WAC Men’s Indoor Track and Field Freshman of the Year honors.
He never finished worse than fourth at a WAC Cross Country Championship and is the first man in Idaho history to be a four-time first-team all-conference selection in the sport. In his 23 career cross country competitions, he was Idaho’s top finisher 13 times and earned a pair of individual meet victories.
He helped lead the Vandals to the 2012 indoor and outdoor WAC titles in men’s track and field to help give Idaho its first men’s WAC titles in any sport. He leaves Idaho ranked in the outdoor all-time top-10 in both the 5000m and 10,000m. He was chosen as Idaho’s 2012 Gerry Hagedorn Award winner, which is given annually to the track and field athlete who best displays the qualities of athletics, academics and citizenship.
“He is the personification of the term ‘student-athlete,’” Idaho director of track and field/cross country Wayne Phipps said of Geiger. “Markus is a perfect example of how a student-athlete can balance an extremely rigorous course load with athletic excellence.”
Geiger graduated cum laude in May with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a minor in Mathematics with a 3.84 GPA. He was a College of Engineering Dean’s List honoree every semester of his college career, a 12-time WAC All-Academic honoree and was selected as the 2011 Outstanding Junior in Electrical Engineering. He was a two-time Second-Team Academic All-District honoree and was selected as the track and field team’s Kathy Clark Scholar-Athlete Award recipient in 2012.
He was an undergraduate research assistant with the Idaho Microelectronics Research and Communications Institute (MRCI) in 2010-11 on a project funded by a U.S. Navy grant to help analyze naval ships’ vulnerability to mines and torpedoes associated with extremely low frequency (ELF) emissions. He was also the team leader for an undergraduate capstone project that designed an optical communications integrated circuit that allowed wireless transmission of data over a distance of several meters.
Geiger was also active in the community during his time at Idaho. He participated in the International Program’s annual “Cruise the World” event from 2009-11 to represent his home country of Germany and teach visitors about its cultures and customs. He also taught local elementary schools about German culture, participated in Idaho’s team pen pal program with St. Mary’s School and served as a coach at the team’s “We Are Runners, Jumpers, Throwers” free track and field kids camp.
“He was cross country team captain and was instrumental in the development of our younger distance runners over the past four years,” Phipps said. “He is an inspiration at practice and meets and is definitely a role model, both academically and athletically, for his younger teammates.”