NEW ORLEANS – Harding’s Daniel Kirwa, Alaska Anchorage’s Mark Cheseto, and Adams State’s Damon Martin are three of this year’s 16 men’s NCAA Division II Cross Country athletes and coaches of the year the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced on Thursday.
Kirwa and Cheseto are returning USTFCCCA Cross Country All-Americans after finishing seventh and ninth respectively at last year’s NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championships. Kirwa, the men’s South Region Athlete of the Year, has come on strong during the postseason for the Bison winning both the Gulf South Athletic Conference title and the South Region title.
Cheseto, the men’s West Region Athlete of the Year, followed a similar path to the regional award, winning both the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title and the West Region title. Cheseto’s region victory was the first for a men’s cross country athlete from UAA.
Headlining the coaches is Adams State’s Damon Martin. Martin’s Grizzlies are the defending NCAA Division II Cross Country National Champions and are primed for another run at the national crown. His team won both the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and Central Regional titles this season and has been the top-ranked team in Division II men’s cross country the entire season.
The 2009 Men’s NCAA Division II Cross Country Athletes and Coaches of the Year
Men’s Athlete of the Year
ATLANTIC – Ben Hahn – Edinboro
Edinboro’s Hahn won the men’s 10k with a course-record time of 31:02 to win his first-ever Atlantic Region title. Hahn led the Fighting Scots to a runner-up finish at the regional meet. Hahn, a junior, was seventh at the PSAC Championship meet.
CENTRAL – Reuben Mwei – Adams State
Adams’ Mwei has had an outstanding year for the Grizzlies, finishing first at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships and finishing third at the Central Regional Championship. Mwei, a senior from Kapsabet, Kenya, finished the Central Region course with a time of 30:57.3, helping lead the Grizzlies to their second-straight regional title.
EAST – Glarius Rop – American International
Rop, a freshman from Eldoret, Kenya, earned his first regional victory as he led AIC to a team fourth-place finish, the best regional finish in program history. Rop won the individual title with nearly a 45 second win in at time of 30:15.9. At the Northeast-10 Conference meet, Rop broke the meet record as he led the Yellow Jackets to a fifth-place finish as a team; marking the four-year old programs best-ever finish at the meet.
MIDWEST – Tyler Emmorey – Grand Valley State
Emmorey, a sophomore, led the Lakers to their eighth-straight Midwest Regional title and eighth-straight Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title by winning both races. Emmorey claimed the Midwest title with a time of 32:22 to finish seven seconds ahead of the field. At the GLIAC meet Emmorey led GVSU with a first-place finish in a time of 24:38 over eight-kilometers.
SOUTH CENTRAL – Amos Sang – Abilene Christian
Sang dominated the South Central Region Championships, finishing over a minute ahead of the field in a time of 29:53.23 over the 10k course. The ACU junior will compete at the 2009 NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championships as an individual. Sang was victorious at the Lone Star Conference meet as he helped lead the Wildcats to their 19th-straight LSC Conference title.
SOUTH – Daniel Kirwa – Harding
Kirwa, a sophomore from Burnt Forrest, Kenya, won his second-straight South Region individual title completing the ten-kilometer course in 31:10.0. Kirwa’s win helped lead Harding to its ninth overall South Regional title, and second-straight. At the Gulf South Conference meet, Kirwa became the first runner since 2003 to repeat as the GSC individual winner.
SOUTHEAST – Oscar Ogwaro – Queens of Charlotte
Ogwaro, a senior from Los Angeles, Calif., narrowly defended his Southeast Region title over the weekend. Ogwaro’s victory came down to a lean over the runner-up finisher. Ogwaro’s time was 31:14 over the ten-kilometer course. At the Conference Carolinas Championship meet, Ogwaro once again came away victorious, claiming his first conference title in leading the Royals to a perfect team score.
WEST – Mark Cheseto – Alaska Anchorage
Cheseto, a junior from Kapenguria, Kenya, made UAA history at the West Region meet by becoming the first Seawolf runner to win an individual region title. He raced to a time of 30:42 seconds in the 10K race after finishing as the runner-up last season. Cheseto led the Seawolves to a third-place team finish with 96 points, earning the region’s final NCAA berth on the men’s side. Cheseto repeated as the Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s male individual winner in 2009, leading the Seawolves to second place in the team standings.
Men’s Coach of the Year
ATLANTIC – Steve Spence – Shippensburg
The Spence-led Shippensburg men’s cross country team continued its impressive season by stunning the onlookers with their best performance to date, 39 team points and the NCAA Atlantic Region Championship in program history. The Red Raider harriers placed all five of their scoring performers among the Top 15 finishers, garnering USTFCCCA Atlantic All-Region honors along the way. Spence’s men’s group finished third overall in the highly competitive PSAC Championships placing all seven runners in the top 25.
CENTRAL – Damon Martin – Adams State
Adams State easily defended its Central Region title with a score of 20 points, placing all seven runners in the top 15. The 20 points scored by the Grizzlies was the lowest point total at the Central Region meet since 2001. The team’s 27-point margin of victory was also the largest margin of victory in regional competition since 2006. Martin’s Grizzlies have been the top-ranked team in men’s Division II cross country all season.
EAST – Gary Gardner – UMass Lowell
Gardner’s UMass Lowell men’s squad captured its second-straight and seventh East Regional crown in the last nine years as the River Hawks placed five runners in the top 13 and all seven runners in the top 17 finishers. The River Hawks compiled 45 points to finish second as a team at the Northeast-10 meet and placed all seven runners in the top 15.
MIDWEST – Jenny Bellsky – Saginaw Valley State
Bellsky’s Saginaw Valley State team had an impressive meet at the Midwest Region championships. The Cardinals finished second overall as a team and earned its first trip to the national meet since 2006. The Cardinals scored 88 points at the region meet and placed three runners in the top ten, all of whom earned USTFCCCA Midwest All-Region honors. In conference action, the Cardinals finished second overall, the program’s highest finish at the conference meet since 1994.
SOUTH CENTRAL – Tom Rutledge – Missouri Southern State
Rutledge’s Missouri Southern State team qualified for their ninth-straight NCAA Division II Cross Country National meet by winning the South Central Regional team title. It was the second regional title for the Lions in the past three years. Rutledge was named the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year after leading MSSU to the 2009 MIAA title, its eighth in the last ten years.
SOUTH – Steve Guymon – Harding
Guymon’s Harding group won both the Gulf South Conference and South Region championships this season. The south Region title was the program’s ninth overall and second-straight, while the GSC title was the second-straight conference crown for the Bison. Guymon was named the GSC Men’s Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season, giving him a conference record seven GSC Coach of the Year honors.
SOUTHEAST – Scott Simmons – Queens of Charlotte
The Simmons-led Queens Royals won their third-straight Southeast Regional title scoring 28 points and placing six runners in the top 15 to outdistance the field. All six runners earned USTFCCCA Southeast All-Region honors. At the Conference Carolinas Championship, Queens scored a perfect 15 points to win the school’s second conference title in the last three years, earning Simmons Conference Carolinas Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors.
WEST – Gary Towne – Chico State
Towne’s Wildcats dominated the 2009 West Region Cross Country Championships to claim their eighth-straight West Regional title. Chico scored 42 points and placed four runners in the top ten. Chico also claimed its eighth-straight California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship title scoring 20 points and placing all seven runners in the top 12. Towne was named the 2009 CCAA Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year.