Las Vegas, Nevada (May 12, 2011)–For the second straight year, UNLV junior Derek Ernst has been selected as the Mountain West Conference Men’s Golfer of the Year, the league announced Tuesday. Rebel teammate Blake Biddle was selected as the league’s Freshman of the Year, and along with Ernst, sophomore Kevin Penner was named to the all-conference squad. The awards were decided by a vote among the nine league head coaches. —Staff report from UNLV Sports Information Director Andy Grossman.

“We are very proud of Derek for winning the league’s top award two years in a row,” head coach Dwaine Knight said. “And to win the conference championship outright this year was quite a feat. After Kevin’s wrist injury in the fall that prevented him from playing a full schedule, he came back and had a solid spring, which was outstanding. Blake, as a freshman, played almost every event and played a lot of outstanding golf. We are very proud of these awards and also very proud of the guys.”

Ernst, a Clovis, Calif., native, is the first Rebel golfer to win back-to-back conference player of the year honors since Ryan Moore in 2003-04 and 2004-05. Ernst is the sixth UNLV men’s golfer to earn his league’s player of the year award and fourth to garner the MWC’s top honor. Overall, the award has been given to UNLV golfers 11 times in the last 21 years.

Ernst won the 2011 MWC men’s golf individual title on Saturday. He is currently fourth in the league and tops on his team with a 71.79 stroke average and has recorded 11 top-12 finishes this season, including three top-five performances. Biddle has posted a 72.91 stroke average this year. He has six top-20 finishes and is the fifth UNLV golfer to win MWC Freshman of the Year. James Oh (2000-01), Ryan Moore (2001-02), Jarred Texter (2004-05) and Seung-su Han (2005-06) are the others.

Penner is second on the team in stroke average with 72.41. He has turned in four top-10 finishes this year. Coach of the Year honors went to Ryan Donovan from San Diego State. The all-conference team is made of 10 individuals. Ernst made the team for the third straight year. UNLV has been awarded the No. 6 seed at the NCAA’s San Diego Regional, which will be played at The Farms Golf Club in San Diego, Calif., beginning Thursday, May 19.


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