(Posted December 7, 2000)

Senior Brandon Bateman (Laurel Valley/Bolivar), a punter on the football team, and sophomore middle hitter Niki Mueller (Bishop Guilfoyle/Altoona) on the women?s volleyball team, were named the Juniata College "Athletes of the Month" for November.

Time and time throughout his career, Bateman was a key performer on the Juniata special teams. During the final two games of the 2000 season, he averaged 39.0 yards a kick against Waynesburg and 44.0 yards an effort versus Widener. On November 4 against the Yellow Jackets, Bateman punted six times for 234 yards, including a 51-yard boot and one punt that pinned Waynesburg inside its own 20-yard line. On November 11 against 2000 NCAA Division III playoff participant, he registered eight attempts for 352 yards. Three of his kicks went 50-plus yards, including a 56-yard punt that was his second-best effort of the campaign. Two of his punts against the Pioneers ended up inside the Widener 20-yard line. His performance during the last two games of his senior year, moved him into first on the all-time punt average chart at Juniata with 38.52 yards a kick, finishing in front of Tim Reed (1975-78) (38.47).

Bateman finished the year ranked second in the MAC in punting average (39.3 yds/punt) and became the first Eagle punter ever to earn all-conference status two times in his career. Last fall, he was tabbed as a second-team selection to the Commonwealth squad. This year he posted Juniata?s best punting average since Dennis DeRenzo registered 39.9 yards an effort in 1987. He had a campaign-best boot of 66 yards in the season-opener at Lycoming on September 9.

Mueller helped guide Juniata through the intense post-season month of November by averaging 3.69 kills, 1.12 blocks and a .432 hitting percentage. She had double digits in kills in four of Juniata's five playoff matches during the month, including a November-high 17 terminations in 3-1 NCAA Division III Quarterfinal victory over visiting Cortland on the 18th. Mueller also had four rejections and a .316 hitting percentage against the Red Dragons. She started the month with 12 kills on 18 tries and just one hitting error (.611), and three blocks in the Commonwealth Conference semifinals versus Messiah. She led the Eagles to their 20th straight conference crown on November 4 with 11 kills, a .529 hitting percentage and two blocks during a 3-0 win over Moravian. In the NCAA regional semifinals, Mueller had 12 kills, four blocks, and three digs in a 3-0 victory over Richard Stockton, while in the regional finals on November 11, she had seven kills on 11 swings with no errors (.636) and five blocks in a 3-0 triumph over Franklin & Marshall.

She was named to the Commonwealth Conference first-team all-star squad at the end of the month for the first time in her career. Mueller also helped lead Juniata to a 33-10 overall record and a fourth-place finish in the NCAA tournament.

The Juniata College "Athlete of the Month" award is sponsored by McDonald?s of Huntingdon and MountUnion. Barb and John Eastman, who own and operate the local McDonald?s restaurants, provide the winners with plaques.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.