KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The MIAA announced its 2019 Fall Student-Athlete of the Year Awards. The male winner was Jace McDown of Emporia State and the female winner was Piper Misse of Pittsburg State.
Jace McDown - Emporia State, Football
McDown was a football student-athlete during the fall season for the Hornets. As a linebacker, he was selected as an honorable mention All-American and also received first-team All-MIAA accolades. McDown led the Association with 58 solo tackles and was second with 95 total tackles. His peers on the team voted him as the best teammate and most outstanding player.
Academically, the junior carried a 3.98 GPA in Health and Human Performance. McDown’s work in the classroom, combined with his play on the field allowed him to be named a second-team CoSIDA Academic All-America selection and a D2 Athletic Director's Association (D2 ADA) Academic Achievement Award winner. He was also an MIAA Scholar-Athlete and Academic Honor Roll Recipient over his career.
The 2019-2020 Emporia State most outstanding male student-athlete logged volunteered time with the Special Olympics Polar Plunge, the National Strength & Conditioning Association Conference, and at powerlifting meets at local high schools. He was also active in ESU’s HornetFest which was in conjunction with NCAA Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Love2Play Initiative and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) as the chapter’s vice president.
Piper Misse - Pittsburg State, Cross Country
Misse was a cross country student-athlete during the fall season for the Gorillas. She captured her second career individual MIAA cross country championship in 2019 and helped PSU to its third straight conference title. Misse, and the Gorillas, also qualified for the NCAA Division II Women’s Cross Country Championships in the fall season.
In the classroom, the senior excelled with a 4.0 GPA in nursing. Misse was a 2018-19 Google Cloud Academic All-America selection and is under consideration for the accolade again this season. She was an MIAA Academic Excellence Award recipient, MIAA Scholar-Athlete, and MIAA Academic Honor Roll recipient all four years of her career. Misse was also tabbed with Pittsburg State’s 2020 Outstanding Senior Award and will graduate Summa Cum Laude from the university.
Misse engaged in numerous projects as a volunteer including the Honors College Association, activities with community members with special needs, and visiting residents at a local nursing home. She is an active member of the Kansas Association of Nursing Students and serves as a faculty-peer liaison for the PSU School of Nursing. Misses also helped the campus community as she was an ambassador or reception host at events for alumni, donors, and legislators.
The 2019-2020 Student-Athlete of the Year awards are given in lieu of the annual Ken B. Jones award due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The MIAA’s COVID-19 Task Force recommended an award that properly recognizes the top student-athletes from the fall and winter but not limit the spring sport student-athletes who were unable to finish their seasons and collect accolades for a fair and competitive resume. Winners of the Winter Student-Athlete of the Year award will be announced on Friday, May 22.
A 15-member committee comprised of one administrator from each MIAA institution and the conference office ranked each candidate based on excellence in three categories: Athletic Achievement in that academic year, Career Academic Achievements, and Community/Campus Service during the Academic Year. A nominee must have at least a 3.25 cumulative grade-point average through the previous full semester term through February 1 of the academic year of nomination at the certifying member institution.