Mitchell Fink has added to his laurels with one final Oregon Tech basketball season looming in his future.
The senior-to-be was named winner of the male Ad Rutschman Award by the Oregon Sports Award program, and joins Ryan Feigi (2008) and Bryant Sentman (2011) as OIT winners of the award given to the premier small-college athlete over the previous school year.
“It’s a huge deal,” OIT men’s basketball coach Justin Parnell said. “I don’t think people know how big a deal it really is.”
Fink received his award Wednesday night on NBC Sports Northwest, which has been broadcasting winners in all of the high school, college and professional levels affiliated to sports in the state of Oregon.
He was one of four individuals to be recognized in Wednesday’s broadcast.
Annie Wright of George Fox University won the female Ad Rutschman Award, Oregon basketball player Sabrina Ionescu the women’s Bill Hayward Award and Adley Rutschman of Oregon State the male Bill Hayward Award.
The Rutschman Award goes to the top athletes among NAIA, NCAA Division II and NCAA Division III schools.
The Hayward Award goes to an amateur athlete in any other collegiate level.
“It’s exciting,” Fink said of his award. “It speaks to the success of the team we had this year, how everything came together to reach the national finals. I’m not really into individual awards. They come with team success.
“It’s an honor, for sure, to be named with (the other OIT winners, which include Meagan Webber, Kelsi Haylett, Jackie Imhoff and Tara Moates among the women so honored), and just to be etched in the history of OIT is big because the tradition is long. It’s special,” Fink said.
“It’s something I’m proud of. I’m honored to win the award.”
Fink won the men’s award over Southern Oregon track and field standout Zach Beltz, and Willamette baseball player Conor Bailey.
“There are so many athletes who have done good things in their careers, but it’s cool to be nominated,” Fink said.
He will be back on campus in September as the Hustlin’ Owls prepare to defend their Cascade Collegiate Conference men’s basketball title and second-place finish in the NAIA Division II national tournament.
“It’s all about getting better and progressing,” Fink said of the men’s team, which returns all but one player from last season. “We just can’t let the pressure get to us.”
n Wright won the women’s Rutschman Award after winning the NCAA Division III indoor pentathlon and outdoor heptathlon this past school year, and was a finalist with Eastern Oregon basketball player Maya Ah You Dias and Linfield College track and field athlete Olivia McDaniel.
n OIT’s Cindy Reed was among the nominees for the women’s award.
n Webber (2002 softball), Haylett (2007 basketball, softball and track and field), Imhoff (2011 softball) and Moates (2017 softball) are the Oregon Tech women to have won the Ad Rutschman Award.
n Tech is the only school to win both the male and female awards in the same year, when Sentman and Imhoff won in 2011.
n Fink brings to 16 the number of Cascade Collegiate Conference athletes to win the Ad Rutschman Award since it was started in 2001.
n Rutschman, a long-time Linfield College head coach, is the only person to have coached national championship teams in two different sports, at any level. He led Linfield to football and baseball titles.
n The Oregon Sports Awards have been on NBC Sports Northwest since July 8, and will finish with the final awards July 31.
n Adley Rutschman, now playing professional baseball, is the grandson of Rutschman the coach.
n Plans are in place to have the 2020 Oregon Sports Awards at a single site, with all finalists gathered together, as they have for the last 67 years.