SUU Strategic Communications

T-Birds Reflect On Being Named Co-Most Valuable Athlete

May 17, 2017
By SUU Strategic Communication

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CEDAR CITY, Utah - At the conclusion of the 2017 Big Sky Outdoor Track and Field Championships the conference gave out the award for Men's Most Valuable Athlete. This year it wasn't just one athlete that received the honor, it was four, two of which were from Southern Utah.

Kasey Knevelbaard and Mike Tate, who both secured two event championships and both scored 20 points for the Thunderbirds, were two of the recipients of the award.

“Obviously it's a huge honor, there's a lot of really great athletes in the Big Sky,” Tate said. “To receive it with three other great athletes was awesome, and to be up there with one of my teammates who I've been training with all year made it extra special.”

Knevelbaard said the hard work and preparation that SUU head coach Eric Houle set up for the athletes has pushed them to the point that they can contend for awards like that.

“It's a huge testament to what coach Houle is doing here,” he said. “He's taken taken one middle distance and one long distance athlete, and scored 40 points. It's just a huge honor.”

As a whole, SUU's distance team had an extremely strong showing at the conference championships claiming the event title in the 800-meter, the 1,500-meter, the 5,000-meter and the 10,000-meter and earning several other points in those events.

“It's pretty crazy because we have the cross country national champions in our conference, and to go in and destroy all the distance events showed we're here to play and that we're serious,” Knevelbaard said.

Tate said he will keep the award with the others he has received, and will make sure his mom is one of the first people to see it.

“I put them up on my wall in my room, and I usually send a picture to my mom,” he said. “Usually the first time I go home after winning an award I usually take it home to show my mom, dad and family in person.”

Knevelbaard and Tate shared the award with Sacramento State's Michael Turner and Weber State's Alex Reece. This marked the first time in the history of the conference that the award was split four ways. Both Turner and Reece were responsible for 20 points, not counting points gathered from relays.  

Several Thunderbirds will be continuing their season at NCAA Regional competition in Austin, Texas. The official field for Regionals will be set on Thursday.

For all things SUU track and field follow @SUUTrackandxc on Twitter and Instagram and like the Southern Utah Track and XC page on Facebook.