Pixler, Braun, Pierre, Roberts, Miller and Thomas Among Division II Region Award Winners

By Tom Lewis, USTFCCCA

March 5, 2010   

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Friday afternoon 49 athletes and coaches that received regional awards for their efforts during the 2010 indoor track & field season in NCAA’s Division II as voted by the nation’s coaches.

Among the honorees are a bevy of athletes that will return to the NCAA Indoor Championships beginning next Friday to defend their title or titles in multiple events.

The regional track athletes of the year include Saint Augustine’s Barbara Pierre and Seattle Pacific’s Jessica Pixler. Pierre, the Atlantic Region Female Track Athlete of the Year, will attempt to win her fourth-consecutive 60-meter national title, having clocked a 7.18 in the event earlier this year. Pixler, the West Region Female Track Athlete of the Year, is also looking for a fourth-consecutive NCAA title in the mile.

Heather Miller of St. Cloud State, the Central Region Female Field Athlete of the Year, enters the NCAA Indoor Championships ranked in the nation’s top three in the pentathlon, long jump, and triple jump. Miller won four conference crowns in the NSIC Championships to score 51½ points total.

Aaron Braun, the NCAA Indoor Champion at 5000 meters in 2009, won the Central Region Male Athlete of the Year title. Braun raced to a 13:42.22 in winning the 5000 meters at Washington’s Husky Classic. His time is the best among all collegians, in all divisions, this season.

Ashland’s Kurt Roberts is better than four feet up on the rest of the competition this year in the shot put, marking a toss of 64-4½ (19.62m) this season. Roberts, the Midwest Region Male Field Athlete of the Year, recorded the best toss in DII history with the mark and would rank second among all collegians this season.

Victor Thomas, the South Central Region Women’s Head Coach of the Year, will return his Blue Tiger team of Lincoln (Mo.) to the NCAA Indoor Championships with a No. 1 national ranking. Lincoln scored 100½ points in 2009 to easily take the national title ahead of runner-up Grand Valley State’s 48 points.

USTFCCCA Division II Indoor Track & Field Athletes and Coaches of the Year

Men’s Region Track Athletes of the Year

ATLANTIC REGION – Josh Scott – Saint Augustine’s
Scott currently ranks No. 1 in the nation in the 200 meters with a 21.30 clocking and with the 400 meters at 47.38. Scott was the CIAA champion in the 400 meters and is on the nation’s leading 4×400- meter relay squad that has clocked 3:10.44 this season. Scott is entered in both the 200 and 400 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Scott is a junior from Winter Haven, Fla.

CENTRAL REGION – Aaron Braun – Adams State
Braun, the RMAC Track Athlete of the Year, set 3k and 5k school records with NCAA Division II-leading times of 7:51.68 in the 3000 meters and 13:42.22 in the 5000 meters. Braun’s 5k time clocked in winning the race at Washington’s Husky Classic ranks as the best time among all collegians and all divisions this indoor season. Braun has also recorded the DII’s best mile time of 4:01.44 (converted). Braun took fifth in the 3000-meter run at the USATF Indoor Championships in Albuquerque. Braun is a senior from Fort Collins, Colo. Braun will run the mile and 5000 meters at the NCAA meet.

EAST REGION – Glarius Rop – American International
Rop, a freshman from Eldoret, Kenya, was the Northeast-10 Conference Champion at 5000 meters and as part of the American International’s DMR team. Rop’s season best 5k time of 14:08.83 ranks sixth among Division II. In addition, Rop has been timed with a split of 4:09 for the anchor, 1600-meter leg on his distance medley relay team. Rop is entered in the 5000 meters for the NCAA Championships.

MIDWEST REGION – Tony Filipek – Saginaw Valley State
Heading into NCAA competition, Filipek is the nation’s leader in the 800 meters, having clocked 1:50.57 in winning the GLIAC title last weekend. Along with the NCAA entry in the 800 meters, Filipek is scheduled to be a member of the Cardinal DMR at the NCAA Championships. Filipek is a senior from Caro, Mich.

SOUTH REGION – Jamaree Gordon – Kentucky State
Gordon currently has the fifth-fastest 60-meter time in Division II at 6.78 and the fifth-best 200-meter clocking in DII at 21.51, which also ranks No. 1 in the South region. Gordon is entered in both the 60 and the 200 for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Gordon broke four meet records this season, including his 200-meter meet-record breaking winning run at the Division II Team Challenge at Findlay. Gordon is a junior from Decatur, Ga.

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION – Jeremy Jackson – Pittsburg State
Jackson, the MIAA Men’s Track Athlete of the Year, holds the top-ranked 60-meter hurdle time in Division II (7.91) and won the MIAA title in the event this season. Jackson took second at the MIAA meet in the 60-meter dash as well and has recorded a 6.83 in the event which finished the season among the Division’s top 15. Jackson is a senior from Burton, Texas.

 SOUTHEAST REGION – Futsum Mebrahtu – Queens (N.C.)
Mebrahtu posted the fastest 5k in school history with a14:25.98 run in placing seventh at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. Mebrahtu’s time also finished among the division’s top 15 and as the No. 1 time in the Southeast region. Mebrahtu is a senior from Phoenix, Ariz.

WEST REGION – Anthony Tomsich – Western Washington
Tomsich, an NCAA qualifier and GNAC Champion in the Mile, posted a national top 10 time with a 4:07.46 run earlier this season. Tomsich was also a member of his DMR team that was among the nation’s top 20. Tomsich is a senior from Fairbanks, Alaska.

Women’s Region Track Athletes of the Year

ATLANTIC REGION – Barbara Pierre – Saint Augustine’s (Co-Winner)
Pierre is Division II’s national leader in the 60- and 200-meter events heading into NCAA competition. Pierre’s season best of 7.18 in the 60 meters is among the best all-time in Division II. Pierre, who has run 23.88 at 200 meters this season, is also a member of the Falcons’ 4×400-meter relay team that is ranked No. 3 in the nation heading into the national championships. Pierre was the CIAA Champion in both the 60 and 200 as well. Pierre is a senior from Winter Haven, Fla.

ATLANTIC REGION – Neely Spence – Shippensburg (Co-Winner)
Spence holds the nation’s top spot in the 5000 meters, having run 16:13.01 this season, a time that is also the PSAC all-time record. Spence’s season best mile (4:58.45) time ranked No. 4 in Division II and her anchor leg in the DMR helped her team to the nation’s leading time of 11:25.16. Spence won four PSAC Championship titles, scoring 32½ points, to help Shippensburg to its first outright PSAC title. Spence is a sophomore from Shippensburg, Pa.

CENTRAL REGION – Indira Spence – Adams State
Spence was named the RMAC Track Athlete of the Year and the RMAC Championship Co-Athlete of the Meet after breaking three of her own RMAC Championship records in the 60 meters, 200 meters, and 60-meter hurdles. Spence’s 7.34 converted 60-meter time ranks No. 3 in the nation while her 23.96 converted 200-meter time sits second in the country. For the NCAA Championships, Spence is entered in the 200-meter dash. Spence is a sophomore from Trelawny, Jamaica.

EAST REGION – Shannon Gagne – New Haven
Gagne, a junior from Meriden, Conn., is entered in both the 200 and 400 meters for next weekend’s NCAA Indoor Championships. Both of her season best performances in the 200 (24.27) and 400 (55.54) rank as the fourth-best in the country. Gagne was the Northeast-10 Conference Champion in three events, including the 55 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters. Gagne also had season bests of 7.14 and 7.67 in the 55 and 60 meters, respectively. The 60-meter time ranked among the nation’s top 20.

MIDWEST REGION – Steph Tinney – Ashland
Tinney, the GLIAC Female Runner of the Year, is currently ranked second in the NCAA at 400 meters with a season best and GLIAC record of 55.33 which was recorded in winning the conference title. In addition to her NCAA entry with the 400-meter dash, Tinney is a member of Ashland’s 4×400-meter relay team that has qualified for the national meet. Tinney placed second at the GLIAC Championships in the 200 meters and has also recorded a top 25 national mark in the 800 meters (2:14.69). Tinney is a junior from Norwalk, Ohio.

SOUTH REGION – Latrice Johnson – Ala.-Huntsville
Johnson held the South region’s top 60-meter time with a 7.73 clocking, a mark that was also in the top 25 nationally. In addition, Johnson held the region’s second best 200-meter dash clocking of 25.77. Johnson is a junior from Birmingham, Ala.

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION – Semoy Hackett – Lincoln (Mo.)
Hackett, a sophomore from Scarborough, Trinidad & Tobago, a member of The Bowerman preseason watch list, has national top three times in both the 60 meters (7.31) and 200 meters (24.01) and is entered in both events for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Hackett was the winner of many events this season in which competition from both NCAA Division I and II attended, including the 200-meter dash invitational at the Indiana Relays.

SOUTHEAST REGION – Tanya Zeferjahn – Queens (N.C.)
Zeferjahn, a senior from Hesperia, Calif., recorded times in the 5000 meters (16:13.70) and mile (4:53.33) that ranked second and sixth nationally this season. Zeferjahn, who set school records in two events this season, placed 10th at the USATF Indoor Championships a week ago. Zeferjahn is entered in the NCAA Championships at 5000 meters.

WEST REGION – Jessica Pixler – Seattle Pacific
Pixler is the national leader in the mile, having run a 4:32.48 over the distance. Pixler won GNAC titles and three GNAC Championship records in the three events, including the mile, the 800 meters, and the DMR. Pixler is entered in the mile and DMR for the NCAA Championships. The DMR team, in which she has competed as the third leg is ranked second in the nation. Pixler’s season best of 2:08.28 in the 800 meters is currently ranked No. 2 in Division II. Pixler is a senior from Sammamish, Wash.

Men’s Region Field Athletes of the Year

ATLANTIC REGION – Nafee Harris – Indiana (Pa.)
Harris, a sophomore from Lancaster, Pa., is the national leader in the long jump heading into the NCAA Championships. Harris leaped to a 25-3½ (7.71m) mark in winning the Jim Wuske Invitational at Mount Union. Harris placed second in the long jump at the PSAC Championships.

CENTRAL REGION – Zac Preble – Bemidji State
Preble recorded the nation’s best score in the heptathlon (5,245) en route to winning his fourth-consecutive NSIC Championship with a meet record. Preble’s season best of 16-0 (4.88m) in the pole vault is among the nation’s top 20 this season. In addition to winning the NSIC crown in the heptathlon, Preble placed fourth in the open pole vault event and eighth in the shot put.

EAST REGION – Corey Thomas – Stonehill
Thomas, a freshman from Brookline, Mass., leads the nation in the high jump by nearly an inch, having cleared 7-2¼ (2.19m) last weekend in taking first place at the New England Championships. Thomas also cleared more than seven feet taking second in the Northeast-10. In addition to his NCAA entry in the high jump, Thomas is entered in the 60-meter hurdles, an event in which he ranks third in the country (7.98).

MIDWEST REGION – Kurt Roberts – Ashland
Roberts is the top-ranked shot putter in Division II this season having thrown 64-4½ (19.62m), which is over four feet from the nearest competitor in the division and the best ever in DII history. Roberts won the GLIAC Championship by over four foot with a 61-1¼ (18.62m) toss. Roberts marks would also rank No. 2 among all collegians in all divisions this season. Roberts’ season best in the weight throw of 60-4½ (18.40m) finished in the top 20 nationally in DII.  Roberts is a junior from Lancaster, Ohio.

SOUTH REGION – LaQuan Priest – Claflin
Priest, a sophomore recorded a national top-15 triple jump mark of 48-11 (14.91m) at ETSU’s Niswonger Invitational in which he placed second.

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION – Drew Frizzell – Central Missouri
Frizzell, a junior from Chillicothe, Mo., ranks in the nation’s top six and is entered in the NCAA Championships in both the shot put and weight throw. With the weight, Frizzell won the MIAA Championship this year and recorded a school-record toss of 68-3¾ (20.82m) at the Mule Relays. Frizzell recorded his season best of 57-11¾ (17.67m) with the shot in placing second at the conference meet.

SOUTHEAST REGION – Jonathan Arthur – Lees-McRae
Arthur, a senior from Pine Level, N.C., leaped to a 16-2¾ (4.95m) clearance in the pole vault at North Carolina’s Gene Anderson Invitational to rank in a tie for 11th in the country. Arthur won four events this season.

WEST REGION – Ryan Brown – Western Washington
Brown is the Division II’s leading pole vaulter entering the NCAA Indoor Championships. Brown cleared 17-1½ (5.22m) in placing second at the UW Invitational in Seattle. Brown also won the GNAC pole vault for the third time in his career, clearing 16-1¼ (4.91m) at the conference meet. Brown is a junior from Bellingham, Wash.

Women’s Region Field Athletes of the Year

ATLANTIC REGION – Jen Hansen – Slippery Rock
Hansen, a senior from Charleston, W.Va., is ranked in the nation’s top five with a pole vault clearance of 12-9½ (3.90m). Hansen claimed her fourth PSAC indoor pole vault title with a mark of 12-1½ (3.70m).

CENTRAL REGION – Heather Miller – St. Cloud State
Miller holds the nation’s top mark in Division II with 3,910 points in the pentathlon, a total that broke both the NSIC conference record and the St. Cloud State record. Miller also holds claim to national top three marks in the long jump (19-8¾, 6.00m) and triple jump (40-9, 12.42m) and is entered in the NCAA Championships in all three events: the pentathlon, long jump, and triple jump. Miller also claimed NSIC titles in all four events, including a 60-meter hurdle title to score a total of 51½ points at the conference meet. Miller is a senior from Sun Prarire, Wis.

EAST REGION – Jacqui Barrett – UMass Lowell
Barrett, a senior from Woburn, Mass., ranks beside the nation’s top five in the shot put, having thrown a personal best of 48-11½ (14.92m) at last weekend’s New England Championships, an event in which she placed second among multi-divisional competition. Barrett took top honors in the Northeast-10 Championships by winning her conference meet by nearly nine feet. Barrett has thrown for over 47 feet in six of her last seven meets.

MIDWEST REGION – Kelly Ash – Ashland
Ash is the nation’s top performer and the only one to throw over 50 feet in the shot put this season in Division II, having marked a 50-1¾ (15.28m) toss at the All-Ohio Championships in mid-February. Ash, a sophomore from Coshocton, Ohio, won the GLIAC Championship with the shot. Ash is also a national qualifier in the weight throw, carding a season best of 60-¼ (18.29m) at the Division II Team Challenge at Findlay.

SOUTH REGION – Latycia Milton – Claflin
Milton ranked No. 1 in the South in the triple jump this season and among the nation’s top 50 in the event with a season best of 37-1¾ (11.32m). Milton was also second in the region this season in the long jump.

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION – Lindsay Lettow – Central Missouri
Lettow totaled 3,845 points in winning the MIAA Championship pentathlon last weekend to rank second in the country in the event heading into the NCAA Indoor Championships. Lettow also claimed MIAA titles in the 60-meter hurdles and 600-yard run to be the meet’s high point scorer (38). A sophomore from Urbandale, Iowa, Lettow ranks in the nation’s top 20 in three open events, having run 8.66 in the hurdles (ninth nationally), jumped 5-5¾ (1.67m) in the high jump (20th nationally), and marking 18-8½ (5.70m) in the long jump (15th nationally). For the national championships, Lettow is entered in the pentathlon and 60-meter hurdles.

SOUTHEAST REGION – Natasha Gass – Clayton State
Gass, a senior from Augusta, Ga., finished the season as the top-ranked long jumper in the Southeast region, marking 17-2¼ (5.24m).

WEST REGION – Emily Warman – Western Washington
Warman leaped to an NCAA qualifier of 39-11½ (12.18m) last weekend in the triple jump to rank sixth in the nation heading into the national championships. Warman, also a national top 15 performer in the long jump this season (18-9¾, 5.73m), took home a GNAC crown in the long jump and finished second in the conference with the triple. Warman is a sophomore from Sedro-Woolley, Wash.

Men’s Region Head Coaches of the Year

ATLANTIC REGION – George Williams – Saint Augustine’s
William’s Falcons won their 25th CIAA Indoor team title in dominating fashion. Saint Augustine’s scored a total of 168 points and earned titles in six events. Williams has the Falcons poised for a run at the national title, as they are ranked second heading into the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships. Top qualifiers include Josh Scott, ranked 1st in both the 200 meters and the 400 meters nationally, and the number-one ranked Saint Augustine’s 4×400-meter relay.

CENTRAL REGION – Damon Martin – Adams State
In his 11th year as the head men’s coach at Adams State, Martin has led the Grizzlies to another outstanding year. Adams State has dominated the competition all season, including a 68-point win at the RMAC Championships, and ranks number one in the country headed into the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships. Adams State athletes won conference championships in seven events and have achieved NCAA automatic or provisional standards in 10 different events in the 2010 season.

EAST REGION – Leo Mayo – American International
Led by head coach Mayo, the American International program has reached new heights in only its third year of existence. Ranked as high as second during the indoor track & field season, the Yellow Jackets recorded a program-best second place finish at the Northeast-10 Indoor Championships and a program-best fifth place finish at the New England Championships. With 14 provisional and automatic marks achieved during the season, Mayo looks to continue the program’s meteoric rise with a top finish at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships.

MIDWEST REGION – Jud Logan – Ashland
Logan’s Ashland Eagles rank third nationally heading into the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships, with top qualifiers including Kurt Roberts, ranked first in Division II and second among all NCAA athletes in the shot put, and Carsten Krohn, second-ranked heptathlete headed into the Championships. The Eagles finished second at the GLIAC Indoor Championships and achieved 21 automatic or provisional marks over the course of the indoor season.

SOUTH REGION – Von Smith – Kentucky State
Smith leads the Kentucky State Thorobreds, the only South Region team to achieve a top-25 national ranking during the Indoor season. The Thorobreds have been equally dominant on the regional level, with the top athletes in the region in the 60 meters, the 200 meters, the long jump, and the shot put. Jamaree Gordon will represent the Thorobreds in the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships as the fifth-ranked competitor in both the 60 meters and 200 meters.

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION – Russ Jewett – Pittsburg State
Jewett’s Pittsburg State Gorillas rank number five nationally heading into the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships, led by top-ranked 60-meter hurdler Jeremy Jackson and double-qualifier Brian Allen (shot put and weight throw). The Gorillas finished second in this year’s MIAA Indoor Championships. Jewett is in his twenty-third season at the helm of the Pittsburg State program.

SOUTHEAST REGION – Ley Fletcher – Lees-McRae
Under Fletcher’s tutelage, the Lees-McRae Bobcats are the top-ranked team in the Southeast Region. Pole vaulter Jonathan Arthur led the Bobcats with an NCAA provisional qualifying mark in the pole vault. The Bobcats dominated the region in the pole vault, finishing the regular season ranked 1-2-3 in the event.

WEST REGION – Mike Johnson – Western Oregon
In his seventh season at the helm of the Western Oregon program, Johnson led the Wolves to their third-consecutive GNAC Indoor Championship. Western Oregon dominated the conference meet, scoring points in every event, setting two conference meet records, and winning five event championships. The Wolves achieved a total of seven NCAA provisional qualifying marks during the indoor season.

Women’s Region Head Coaches of the Year

ATLANTIC REGION – Dave Osanitsch – Shippensburg
Fifth-year head coach Osanitsch led the Shippensburg program to new heights this season, as the Raiders won the first outright PSAC Indoor Championship in school history with a total of 173.25 points. The Raiders were dominant in the middle-distance events, winning every event from 400 meters to 3,000 meters, including the Distance Medley Relay. Shippensburg ranks seventh in the country headed into the NCAA Indoor Championships, led by top qualifier Neely Spence in the 5,000 meters and the top-ranked Distance Medley Relay.

CENTRAL REGION – Tracy Hellman – Augustana (S.D.)
In his seventh year as the head coach of the Augustana women’s team, Hellman led the Vikings to their first-ever conference championship as they won the NSIC Women’s Indoor team title with a total of 146 points. Hellman’s athletes broke seven school records during the indoor season and recorded a total of 15 automatic or provisional qualifying marks. The Vikings will be represented in three events at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships.

EAST REGION – Chris Covert – Southern Connecticut State
The Owls achieved NCAA provisional or automatic qualifying marks in eight different events during the 2010 indoor season, a program record. Third-year head coach Covert guided Owls to three school records, three Northeast-10 conference titles, one New England title, and an overall third-place finish at the Northeast-10 Conference Championships. Under Covert’s tutelage, the Owls also finished 11th at the New England Championships and second among Division II teams at the event.

MIDWEST REGION – Jerry Baltes – Grand Valley State
Baltes guided the Grand Valley State Lakers to a 2010 GLIAC Indoor Championship and a number two national ranking heading into the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships. The GLIAC title was the eleventh-straight for Baltes and earned him the 2010 GLIAC Indoor Coach of the Year award. The Lakers will look to make a run at the NCAA team Championship with 16 women qualified to the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships.

SOUTH REGION – David Cain – Alabama-Huntsville
Cain’s Chargers achieved six provisional qualifying marks in four events this indoor season and broke school records in five events. Their outstanding 2010 season led to a number one team ranking in the South Region for the Chargers. Cain is in his ninth season as the head coach at UAH.

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION – Victor Thomas – Lincoln (Mo.)
Head coach Victor Thomas guided the Blue Tigers to the number one team ranking for the entire 2010 season. Lincoln justified their top ranking when facing off against the number two team in the nation at the Findlay Open, as the Blue Tigers won the event with 94 points. The Blue Tigers will look to solidify their place at the top of the NCAA Division II standings with a run at the national title in Albuquerque. Thomas will rely on 19 entries in the Championships, including top-ranked Raquel Anderson in the long jump and the top-ranked 4×400-meter relay, to try to bring home the team title.

SOUTHEAST REGION – Scott Simmons – Queens (N.C.)
Third-year head coach Simmons coached Royal athletes to three NCAA automatic qualifying marks and one USATF indoor qualifying mark during the 2010 indoor season. In addition, Simmons’s athletes rewrote the school’s record books in five different events this season – every event from the 400 meters to the 5,000 meters. The Royals will be represented by two top-ten qualifiers in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships.

WEST REGION – Karl Lerum – Seattle Pacific
Lerum guided the Falcons to their seventh-straight GNAC Indoor Championship in 2010, led by five individual event winners and a win in the distance medley relay. Of the Falcons six conference wins, four were achieved in meet record fashion. Seattle Pacific athletes achieved 11 automatic or provisional qualifying marks during the indoor season, led by Jessica Pixler’s automatic qualifying mark in the mile. Her time ranks first in Division II and second among NCAA athletes in all Divisions.