Phil Esten was named athletic director at St. Thomas on Monday to succeed the retiring Steve Fritz.

Esten, a former Tommie baseball player, has been a deputy athletic director and chief operating officer at Penn State since 2014. He previously was an athletic department official at California (2012-14) and the University of Minnesota (2004-2012).

Esten will be the third athletic director at St. Thomas in 50 years. Fritz served 27 years, succeeding Frank Mach (1968-92). Esten will begin his duties at St. Thomas when the Penn State football season ends.

“I grew up the son of Division III coach, and was a Division III athlete myself, so my values have developed around the idea of the student-athlete in a true sense,” Esten said in a news release. “St. Thomas is among the very best across the country at the Division III level. Steve has built a phenomenal program.”

Walker, Wolff, Shepard honored by NCHC

Nolan Walker of St. Cloud State was offensive player of the week and Minnesota Duluth’s Nick Wolff defenseman of the week for the NCHC.

Walker had two goals and two assists in the Huskies’ sweep of Denver. Wolff, a junior alternate captain from Eagan, helped the Bulldogs sweep Colorado College with a goal, two assists and four blocked shots. UMD’s Hunter Shepard was the NCHC goaltender of the week.

UMD still No. 1

Three Minnesota schools — Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State and Minnesota State Mankato — retained the top three spots in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll. The Gophers fell three spots to No. 19.

Top 10 unchanged

The Gophers remained No. 3 in an unchanged Top 10 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. It’s the highest ranking of five Big Ten teams in the top 10. Unbeaten Brigham Young is No. 1, followed by Stanford.

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