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FOOTBALL: Olszewski named NSIC Defensive Player of the Year

Minnesota State quarterback Ryan Schlichte (5) steers away from BSU senior Gunner Olszewski (36) and toward the sidelines in October at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Bemidji State defensive back Gunner Olszewski was named Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Defensive Player of the Year by the league Thursday. The senior was one of 17 Beaver football players named to all-conference teams.

The Beavers landed eight on the All-NSIC North Division First Team and four on the Second Team to go with five honorable mentions.

Gunner Olszewski

Along with his first-career Defensive Player of the Year award, Olszewski was named All-NSIC First Team on both defense and special teams. The native of Alvin, Texas had been tabbed NSIC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year prior to the season.

Olszewski ends his career with four All-NSIC First Team defense selections. He concluded his career tied for second all-time at BSU with 13 interceptions and holds program records for solo tackles (183) and punt return yards (923).

Other BSU players named NSIC North Division First Team selections include sophomore linebacker Gabe Ames, senior offensive lineman Parker Blakeslee, senior wide receiver Landon Jones, senior running back Andrew Lackowski and sophomore defensive lineman Josh Wleh.

Senior kicker/punter Isaac Aanerud, sophomore offensive lineman Hank Bellefy, junior defensive lineman Alex Hoffman and senior defensive back John Vogeler were chosen for the NSIC North Division Second Team.

Junior linebacker Grant Bushinski, senior defensive lineman Dylan Ellingson, junior fullback Matt Gross, junior defensive back Michael Junker and sophomore wide receiver Mannie Kugmeh were selected to the NSIC North Division Honorable Mention Team.

This year marks the third straight BSU has had at least 17 selections to the All-NSIC teams and fourth with at least 14. Aanerud, Ames, Gross, Lackowski, Olszewski and Vogeler were each part of the 2017 All-NSIC team.

Aanerud ended his career as the program’s all-time leader with 43 field goals and is second for total points scored with 259. Ames led the BSU defense with 81 total tackles, 12.0 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles. Gross packed punch in the backfield at fullback while Lackowski ranked second in the conference with 114.2 rushing yards per game. Gross caught two receiving touchdowns and ran in one, while Lackowski posted 10 rushing touchdowns and 1,028 rushing yards on the season. Vogeler set BSU’s all-time interceptions returned for a touchdown record last season with three and added to it with another in 2018.

The Beavers’ offensive line earned at least two All-NSIC First Team members for the third straight season, helping the offense rank third in the NSIC with 38.2 points per game, fourth with 214.7 rushing yards per game and fifth with 393.9 total yards per game. The offensive line also accounted for the sixth fewest sacks in the league.

Sioux Falls running back Gabriel Watson earned NSIC Offensive Player of the Year, Northern State receiver Dakota Larson was named Offensive Newcomer of the Year, Concordia-St. Paul defensive back Marcus Haskins received Defensive Newcomer of the Year, MSU Moorhead’s Steve Laqua earned Coach of the Year and Minnesota Duluth’s John Steger received Assistant Coach of the Year.