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Ronan grad wins MSU-Northern Athlete of the Year

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HAVRE — Ronan High School graduate Cameron Neiss has earned yet another piece of hardware to add to his trophy room — Montana State University Northern’s coveted Athlete of the Year award. 

MSU-Northern athletic director Christian Oberquell said head coaches from every sport,  men’s and women’s, vote for a male and female athlete of the year. Coaches nominate a player from their respective teams to create a list from which the winners are chosen. 

Now in its fifth year, the award ceremony is expected to draw 500-600 community members, fans and corporate sponsors.

“It means you’re the top athlete in our institution and, in this case, one of the top athletes in the country,” Oberquell said. 

And if past award winners are to be any indication of Neiss’ potential, the sky is the limit.

Last year’s male winner, Will Andrews, entered the NFL as an unsigned free agent and made it to the final round of tryouts with the Carolina Panthers. He missed the cut by only two people and spent much of the winter trying out for teams in Canada. 

Neiss’ MSU-Northern wrestling coach, Tyson Thivierge, said the university has many outstanding individuals competing under its colors. Neiss, however, is in a class all his own. 

“I can’t say enough about Cameron and what he’s done for this program,” Thivierge said. “His work ethic is second to none and he’s the type of kid that’s the last one to leave the room on any given day. He runs extra sprints; he’s one of the most disciplined weight-cutters I’ve ever had the pleasure to know; and I think his credentials speak for themselves.”

At this, Thivierge referenced Neiss‘ 3.6 GPA, two All-American awards and an Academic All-American title. 

“Literally, I can talk to you for an hour about Cameron. I can’t say enough about the kid. Every challenge you put in front of him, he accepts it and runs it over. You have to continually raise the bar for him because if you don’t, he will,” Thivierge said. 

Cameron’s father John said his son had always been a hard and meticulous worker, dedicated to both his studies and his sport.

“I’m very proud,” John said. “(The award) is a pretty big deal. It’s quite an accomplishment along with his grades, and he’s an academic All-American as well as being a dad, so he’s got a full load.”

Neiss took second in the nation at the NAIA wrestling championships in March, but he’s far more than an outstanding athlete. Speaking to Neiss‘ credentials outside the gym, Thivierge presented a glowing portrait of the athlete.

“Hands down, I think that Cameron is going to take this loss at the national finals and it will motivate him all summer long,” Thivierge said. “Outside of wrestling, Cameron has proven to be an unbelievable father and his work ethic alone is going to get him a long ways in the professional world. 

“Whatever he chooses to do, he will excel.”

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