Four Pittsburg State University student-athletes have been named finalists for the MIAA Fall and Winter Student-Athlete of the Year awards.
Ryan Dodd, senior in marketing, and Piper Misse, senior in nursing, are finalists for the MIAA Fall Male and Female Student-Athlete of the Year awards while Levi Wyrick, senior in physical education, and Haven Lander, junior in English, are finalists for the Winter Male and Female Student-Athlete of the Year awards
Dodd began playing flag football as a child before moving on to tackle football in middle school. Dodd continued playing football throughout high school and joined the Gorillas when he became a student at Pitt State.
Misse began competing in cross country and track and field in high school. Misse continued competiting throughout high school and college and is now the team captain of both teams.
Wyrick began competing in 2016 after redshirting his first year.
Lander began competing in track and field in middle school and continued throughout high school and now college.
“It feels wonderful,” Misse said. “I am grateful to be part of a program in which there are so many great student athletes and our coaches encourage us strongly to focus on school and our career path outside of sports. So, I would like to thank them for sort of fostering that community.”
Lander says that its always surprising when she is up for awards.
“It’s actually really exciting to even be considered for something like that,” Lander said. “It’s weird to me because I don’t think of myself in that way like… It’s still always a shock to me whenever people consider me for things like that.”
According to Dodd, being recognized for all of his hard work is “humbling.”
“…Honestly, that my peers and people throughout the league as well thought that I’d be a good candidate to be nominated for this especially based off all the work I put in through my academia, my athletics, and just my overall character as a person through means of… representing the community well and trying to be the best image that I could for Pittsburg State,” Dodd said.
The sports world came to a sudden halt due to COVID-19, but it’s good that awards are still be given out, according to Wyrick.
“With all the crazy stuff that’s going on, it’s exciting because I don’t know if anyone has felt like, ‘Wow, everything just stopped, school just stopped,” Wyrick said. “Well, at least some of things are continuing and you’re still getting honored (and) all the hard work is still paying off…”
One of the best things about Pitt State and being an athlete at PSU is the support from the community Dodd said.
“Probably the number one thing I enjoyed was the big family feeling that I got from my whole time there (at Pitt State),” Dodd said. “…I grew up knowing of Pittsburg State but since going there I was really included into the family right when I stepped foot on campus in 2015. First off, the community support is awesome and everywhere I’d go whether it be the classroom or just grocery (shopping)… people would always stop and recognize you and I love being able to interact with everybody else. As far as athletics goes, I’ve made my best friends for life playing on that team and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I’m really glad I was able to meet all the people I did there. We all played hard for each other and loved every second of it.”
Misse has made many memories at Pitt State which she will remember long after she graduates.
“My time at Pitt was so great,” Misse said. “I had lots of life changing experiences and met people that absolutely made me a better person and challenged me athletically and just in personality. So, I am very grateful for these four years and especially blessed to have been healthy the majority… (of my time at Pitt State.) I will always treasure the memories of big home track meets or cross country meets and the camaraderie of the team.”
Wyrick has made lifelong friends with his teammates.
“The thing I enjoyed the most is the relationships I built with my teammates, the football teammates and then the relationships I’m still the building with the guys on track team,” Wyrick said. “(They are) probably lifelong relationships (and) friendships that… build you up as a man and it’s really satisfying to have those. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Like Wyrick, Lander has also made great friendships with teammates and has made connections with other athletes.
“It’s been really fun so far getting to meet everybody, getting to know everyone, and getting to kind of even become friends with all your competitors and getting close with them and the coaches,” Lander said. “It’s something that’s really amazing and really special and just a whole lot of fun… You’ll miss it whenever it’s gone because it’s something you’re not gonna find in a whole lot of other places.”
The winners of the Fall Student-Athlete of the Year awards will be announced on Thursday, May 21 while winners of the Winter Student-Athlete of the Year awards will be announced the following day.