SEWARD, Neb. – After putting on a show in the 2021 GPAC tournament championship game, junior Taylor Cockerill and freshman Taysha Rushton have pulled in first team All-GPAC honors, as announced by the league on Wednesday (March 3). Meanwhile, juniors Mackenzie Koepke and Rylee Pauli were both recognized as honorable mention all-conference choices. Head Coach Drew Olson’s program also placed two players on the first team last season (Grace Barry and Philly Lammers).
Cockerill is now a two-time first team all-conference honoree. The Waverly High School product also picked up first team accolades in 2018-19 for the national championship team. While returning from an injury that sidelined her in 2019-20, Cockerill has started all 28 games and leads the team in points (14.5), rebounds (6.2) and assists (3.04) per game. She is shooting 41.7 percent from the floor, 38.0 percent from 3-point range and 78.7 percent from the foul line. Twice this season Cockerill has poured in 33 points in a single game. She will enter the national tournament having piled up career totals of 1,324 points (16th most in program history), 471 rebounds, 244 assists, 164 steals and 148 3-point field goals. She was chosen as a 2018-19 NAIA honorable mention All-America selection.
Rushton emerged as a strong candidate for the GPAC Freshman of the Year award (which wound up going to Dakota Wesleyan’s Haidyn Pitsch). The native of Lubbock, Texas, immediately stepped into a starting role and has averaged 14.3 points, 2.6 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Rushton is shooting 36.6 percent from the field, 35.3 percent from 3-point range and 81.9 percent from the free throw line. Rushton ranks fourth among all GPAC players with 66 made 3-point field goals (2.36 per game). Her scoring average is the second highest for a freshman during Drew Olson’s tenure.
Koepke has garnered some form of all-conference recognition in each of her three collegiate seasons. She collected honorable mention (2018-19) and second team All-GPAC (2019-20) accolades the previous two seasons. The Lincoln Lutheran High School alum is averaging 7.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.0 block per game. She is shooting 29.9 percent from 3-point range. Koepke has totaled 736 points, 375 rebounds, 176 3-point field goals and 173 steals over 99 career collegiate games.
Pauli is a first time All-GPAC honoree in what is her first season as a starter. The Omaha, Neb., native is averaging 6.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the floor. Pauli posted a career high 20 points in the win at Doane. Her GPAC tournament included a 16-point, seven-rebound outing versus Dakota Wesleyan. Pauli has started 26 of 28 games.
The 17th-ranked Bulldogs will learn of their assignment and opponent for the opening round of the national tournament on Thursday when the NAIA bracket is announced. The selection show is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT on Thursday.