National Awards for Division II Cross Country Announced
By Tom Lewis, USTFCCCA
December 7, 2010
NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Tuesday that NCAA Division II Cross Country Champions Michael Crouch of Queens (N.C.) and Neely Spence of Shippensburg were named as National Athletes of the Year for the 2010 cross country season. In addition, Adams State’s Damon Martin was recognized as the National Men’s Coach of the Year while Jerry Baltes of Grand Valley State was named the National Women’s Coach of the Year.
NATIONAL MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Michael Crouch, Queens (N.C.)
Crouch, a senior from Yucca Valley, Calif., won the NCAA men’s cross country championship title for the first time with a victory over runner-up Meshack Koyiaki of Columbus State. For almost the entire 10,000-meter course, stride for stride, Crouch matched Koyiaki, who had set himself up as the favorite after winning three match-ups during the season, including the D-II Southeast Region title. Crouch waited until 150-meters to go when the finish line was in sight and used an impressive kick to win by a 3.6-second margin.
Crouch is Queens’ first national champion in men’s cross country.
NATIONAL FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Neely Spence, Shippensburg
Spence, a junior from Shippensburg, Pa., won the NCAA women’s individual title for the first time and is the school’s first national champion in the sport. Spence took the six-kilometer race at the national championships in 20:41.2, over 15 seconds ahead of runner-up Sarah Porter of Western Washington. Spence led the Red Raiders to a fourth-place team finish.
Spence went undefeated through the season, winning a third-straight NCAA regional title and PSAC conference crown. At the Greater Louisville Classic, Spence set a new 5k course record and won the race which included many from Division I.
NATIONAL MEN’S COACH OF THE YEAR: Damon Martin, Adams State
Martin’s Grizzlies took the NCAA men’s team title for the third-consecutive year. Adams State won the national title with 57 points, besting in-conference and in-region rival Western State’s 102. Brandon Birdsong and Ryan McNiff finished in the race’s top ten. Two more finished in the top 15, and ASC’s fifth runner placed 24th overall.
Adams State, with their eighth crown, takes over as the squad with the most national team titles in Division II men’s cross country and is now one ahead of Western State. Adams State is the first squad to win three national crowns in a row since Western State won four straight in a period from 1999 to 2003.
Dating back to 2008, Adams State remains undefeated among Division II competition – a feat that includes victories versus 206 opponents.
NATIONAL WOMEN’S COACH OF THE YEAR: Jerry Baltes, Grand Valley State
Baltes’ Lakers won their first NCAA team title in women’s cross country with a 66-point effort to best nearest challenger Western State (95). Grand Valley placed two runners, Katherine McCarthy and Megan Maceratini, in the race’s top ten. GVSU’s remaining five finished in the race’s top 35. The Lakers had previously finished as national runner-up in three of the previous five national championships.
Baltes, in his 12th year at the helm, also led the squad to a tenth-straight NCAA Midwest Region title with a dominant 26-79 victory over Ferris State. Grand Valley placed four runners in the region’s top eight. The Lakers also won the GLIAC title for the tenth straight year and won this year’s race with just 18 points.
USTFCCCA 2010 National Award Winners, Division II, Cross Country
National Athlete of the Year: Michael Crouch, Queens (N.C.)
National Coach of the Year: Damon Martin, Adams State
National Athlete of the Year: Neely Spence, Shippensburg
National Coach of the Year: Jerry Baltes, Grand Valley State