On Monday, April 15th, Dakota State held its annual honors banquet to recognize students for both their academic and athletic success. One of the awards given out was Athlete of the Year. This award is given to a male and female athlete who’ve had an exceptionally outstanding season. According to Athletic Director Jeff Dittman, the awards are given out to athletes that are nominated and voted on by the Dakota State coaches. This year, the Athlete of the Year award was actually given to three athletes instead of two. The male recipients were Curt Boeke and Braden Curnow, while the female recipient was Barbara Briceno.
Curt Boeke was a member of the football team that went 3-8 this season. He is a six-foot-five, 265 lbs. senior defensive lineman. In the 2018 season, Boeke finished with 124 tackles (64 solo, 60 assist) and eight quarterback sacks. According to DakStats, the NAIA official statistical website, he ranks fourth in tackles per game with 12.4 and fourth in tackles for loss per game with 1.9. Boeke also ranks ninth in total tackles for loss with 19 and 19th in sacks per game with 0.8. Earlier this year, he was named as an NAIA First Team All-American. This is the second year he was awarded this honor as he was named to the NAIA Second Team All-American in 2017. Boeke is also a two-time North Star Athletic Association Football All-Conference recipient and was named as the conference’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
Braden Curnow was an integral part of the men’s cross-country conference championship team this season. He was also a part of the men’s indoor track and field conference championship team. As an individual, Curnow won three individual cross-country titles plus the North Star conference championship. He also placed 19th at the NAIA national cross country meet with a personal best time of 24 minutes, 54 seconds. This earned him a spot on the cross-country All-American team, the first time since 2009 that a runner on the Dakota State men’s team had received this honor. During the indoor track season, Curnow won the 5000-meter run at the conference championships for the second year in a row and also brought home the first place finish this year in the 3000-meter run. At the national meet, he placed fourth in the 5000-meter run which helped him to earn his second All-American honor for track. Currently, Curnow has qualified for the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National meet for the third straight year.
Barbara Briceno was a part of the Trojan volleyball team this fall that finished with an overall record of 19-13 and conference record of 8-6. Earlier this year, she was the first Trojan to be selected as an NAIA Volleyball Honorable Mention. She was also awarded First Team honors for the North Star Athletic Association. Briceno was the team leader in kills with 347 and the team leader in aced serves with 47. In the conference, she ranks second in service aces per set with 0.4, fourth in kills per set with 2.9, and sixth in digs per set with 3.9. She also helped the team get to its first-ever conference championship match where they fell short to nationally-ranked Viterbo. It was believed that Briceno was playing her final volleyball season, but she is now able to return next year after regaining another year of eligibility.