The University of Wisconsin-Superior Athletics Department recently named C.J. Pillath and Kaleigh Martinson its men's and women's athletes of the year.

Other awards presented included the men's and women's scholar athletes of the year, as well as the community service award.

Male Athlete of the Year

Pillath received the 2020 Mertz Mortorelli Male Athlete of the Year Award. Named after the longtime coach and athletics director at UWS, the Mertz Mortorelli Male Athlete of the Year Award recognizes the male student-athlete who has displayed distinctive, unique or exceptional athletic accomplishments during the past year.



It's the second straight year Pillath, a member of the men's track and field team, has received the honor.

CJ Pillath
CJ Pillath




The Coleman, Wisconsin native enjoyed the best indoor season of his Yellowjacket career in 2019-20, establishing new school records on a seemingly weekly basis. Pillath posted a huge mark of 19.17 meters in the weight throw just weeks prior to the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships. The mark was the fifth-best in the nation, and poised him to achieve All-American status at the national meet. He also qualified for championships in the shot put, becoming the first Yellowjacket student-athlete in head coach Glen Drexler's tenure to qualify for nationals in two events. He entered nationals ranked 19th in the nation.



Unfortunately, Pillath wasn't afforded the opportunity to compete for national titles, as the NCAA Championships were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pillath's honors include:

  • A five-time UMAC men's Field Athlete of the Week
  • UMAC champion in weight throw and shot put
  • UMAC Athlete of the Meet at the conference championships
  • All-UMAC First Team selection
  • All-Region selection
  • All-American in weight throw and shot put

The senior graduated from UWS with a degree in biology.

Female Athlete of the Year

Martinson received the 2020 Lydia C. Thering Female Athlete of the Year Award. Named after the longtime UWS coach and professor in the department of health and human performance, the Lydia C. Thering Female Athlete of the Year Award recognizes the female student-athlete who has displayed distinctive, unique or exceptional athletic accomplishments during the last year.



Martinson capped her four-year run on the Yellowjacket women's hockey team with an outstanding senior year. In 27 games, Martinson scored 26 goals and added 10 assists, once again leading the Yellowjackets in goals and points. The two-year captain also scored four shorthanded goals on the year, which was tied for the most in the nation. Martinson was the NCAA Division III Statistical Champion in short-handed goals per game. She also added three power play goals and four game-winning goals during the 2019-20 campaign.

UW-Superior’s Kaleigh Martinson (7) beats UW-Eau Claire goalie Erin Connolly (30) for a second-period goal in the Yellowjackets’ 5-1 loss Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 at Wessman Arena. Martinson received the 2020 Lydia C. Thering Female Athlete of the Year Award from UW-Superior. (File / Superior Telegram)
UW-Superior’s Kaleigh Martinson (7) beats UW-Eau Claire goalie Erin Connolly (30) for a second-period goal in the Yellowjackets’ 5-1 loss Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 at Wessman Arena. Martinson received the 2020 Lydia C. Thering Female Athlete of the Year Award from UW-Superior. (File / Superior Telegram)

The Dayton, Minnesota native was named All-WIAC first team for the third consecutive year and was in the running for the circuit's player of the year award. In March, Martinson was named All-American First Team in the West Region by the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA).



Martinson closed out her Yellowjacket career as one of the most dominant offensive players in program history. Her 65 goals and 102 points rank third all-time in both categories. She is one of just three players in the history of Yellowjacket women's hockey to reach the 100-point mark, joining Erin Kegley (2003-07) and Dani Schultz (2010-14).



A four-time selection to the WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll, Martinson graduated from UWS with a degree in elementary education.

Scholar athletes

For the first time, Yellowjacket Athletics has multiple recipients of its women's scholar athlete award. Eva Reinertsen, a senior on the Yellowjacket women's basketball team and the recipient of the award in 2019, joins Olivia Bancroft-Hart from the softball team and Amber Heidenreich of both the women's hockey team and the women's track and field team.

The award is presented annually to the female student-athlete(s) that is a junior or senior and who has displayed distinctive, unique, or exceptional scholastic accomplishment. In a remarkable display of academic prowess, Bancroft-Hart, Heidenreich, and Reinertsen all have perfect grade-point averages.

The recipient of the 2020 Yellowjacket Men's Scholar Athlete of the Year award is Cameron Lee. A member of the Yellowjacket baseball team, Lee is the first two-time winner of the award, having also received the honor in 2019. He had the highest cumulative grade-point average among all male student-athletes in the junior and senior classes, posting a mark of 3.991.

Community Service Award

Matt Carlson, a member of the men's track and field team, received the 2019-20 Yellowjacket Community Service Award. The award is presented annually to the student-athlete who contributes the most hours of community service to Superior and the surrounding area during the academic year.