Division II Region Athletes and Coaches of the Year Named

By Tom Lewis, USTFCCCA

March 4, 2011   

NEW ORLEANS – On Friday, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced the Region Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the NCAA Division II indoor track & field 2011 season. Several of the athletes and coaches named will be on hand for the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships set for next weekend, March 11-12, in Albuquerque, N.M.

Men’s Track Athlete of the Year

ATLANTIC REGION – Leford Green – Johnson C. Smith
Green, a senior from St. Catherine, Jamaica, heads into the NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships with the fastest time in the 400 meters at 47.03 seconds and as anchor leg on Johnson C. Smith’s second-ranked 4×400-meter relay. Earlier this season, he won the 2011 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association 400-meter title and anchored the team’s 4×400-meter relay to a third-place finish.

CENTRAL REGION – Craig Huffer – Adams State
Huffer boasts the top NCAA Division II mark in the mile, an altitude-adjusted time of 3:59.72, which is also a school record. The sophomore from Newry, Australia won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship in the 3,000 meters and was named the RMAC Track Athlete of the Year for his performances.

EAST REGION – Selasi Lumax – Southern Connecticut
The junior from Somerset, N.J., has had a busy indoor season, achieving the top entering time in the 800 meters at 1:49.47, running anchor leg on the Owls’ fifth-ranked 4×400-meter relay, and competing on the third-ranked distance medley relay squad. The junior from Somerset, N.J. won the 2011 Northeast-10 Conference championship in the 1,000 meters.

MIDWEST REGION – Tom Scott – Ashland
Scott scored 15 team points at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships, winning the 800 meters and running on the champion distance medley and 4×400-meter relays to earn GLIAC Track Athlete of the Year honors. His top 800-meter time of 1:51.18 ranks fifth in NCAA Division II. Scott is a junior from Lima, Ohio.

SOUTH REGION – Daniel Kirwa – Harding
Kirwa, a senior from Eldoret, Kenya, delivered solid middle distance performances during the regular season, achieving a top regional ranking in the mile and as a member of Harding’s distance medley relay, and the second-ranked time in the region over 800 meters. His best performance in the mile of 4:08.95 ranks sixth nationally.

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION – Amos Sang – Abilene Christian
Sang scored the top-ranked time in the 5,000 meters during the regular season at 14:05.82 and also recorded the third-ranked time in the mile. He will compete in both events at the upcoming NCAA Division II Indoor Championships, hoping to achieve a rare middle-distance double. Sang is a senior from Eldoret, Kenya.

SOUTHEAST REGION – Nelson Mwangi – Queens (N.C.)
A junior from Nairobi, Kenya, Mwangi recorded a school-record and NCAA automatic-qualifying time of 1:51.30 in the 800 meters. In addition, he helped the Royals’ distance medley relay break the school record and record the season’s second fastest time in the event at 9:51.37.

WEST REGION – Chris Reed – Western Oregon
Reed, a senior from Klamath Falls, Ore., achieved the seventh-fastest regular-season mark in the mile at 4:09.39. The time is also a school record and ranks second in Great Northwest Athletic Conference history. He also runs the anchor leg on Western Oregon’s sixth-ranked distance medley relay and is the 2011 GNAC Indoor champion in the mile.

Men’s Field Athlete of the Year

ATLANTIC REGION – Herman Kirkland – Shippensburg
Kirkland, a freshman from Philadelphia, Pa., currently leads the D-II ranks in the long jump with a season’s best of 25-3¼ (7.70m) – a mark that also reset the PSAC title and earned him a conference title.

CENTRAL REGION – Laquone Robinson – MSU Moorhead
A sophomore from Minneapolis, Minn., Robinson is currently ranked fourth in the nation in the heptathlon with a season’s best of 5,005 points achieved in winning the event at the NSIC Championships. In addition, Robinson scored in four other events for the Dragons at the conference championships, which included third-place showings in the long and triple jumps.

EAST REGION – Corey Thomas – Stonehill
Thomas, a sophomore from Brookline, Mass., has the division’s second-best clearance in the high jump at 7-1¾ (2.18m). Undefeated against Division II opponents this season, Thomas placed second overall at the NEICAAA Championships and was the winner of the Northeast-10 crown.

MIDWEST REGION – Ryan Loughney – Ashland
Loughney, a junior from Grahamsville, N.Y., boasts the fourth-longest weight throw mark among all divisions of the NCAA with his season best of 71-4 (21.74m). The mark makes him second on the Division II performer’s list this season, trailing only Central Missouri’s Drew Frizzell by five inches. Loughney was named GLIAC Male Field Event Athlete of the Year after his conference-winning performance of 69-9¾ (21.28m) with the weight.

SOUTH REGION – LaQuan Priest – Claflin
Priest, a junior, has recorded the nation’s fifth-best mark in the triple jump this season at 50-¾ (15.26m) and qualified for the NCAA Championships in the event. Priest also had a season best of 22-4¼ (6.81m) in the long jump – good for second in the region.

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION – Drew Frizzell – Central Missouri
Frizzell, a senior from Chillicothe, Mo., ranks third among all collegians in all divisions this season in the weight throw. His season’s best of 71-9 (21.87m), which is also No. 1 in D-II, was achieved in winning the title at the MIAA Championships. Frizzell is also entered in the shot put for the NCAA Championships as the No. 11 seed, an event in which he has a season best of 56-8¾ (17.29m). Frizzell was MIAA Athlete of the Week four times during the season.

SOUTHEAST REGION – Andrew Pickwell – Carson-Newman
Pickwell, a freshman, had a season best of 6-8 (2.03m) in the high jump, ranking him in the nation’s top 30 in the event.

WEST REGION – Ryan Brown – Western Washington
Brown, a senior from Bellingham, Wash., enters the NCAA Championships as the No. 1 seed in the pole vault, having cleared a division-leading 17-5 (5.31m) at the Flotrack Husky Classic in mid-February. Brown, who won the same event at the GNAC Championships, reset his school’s and conference records in the event this year as well.

Men’s Head Coach of the Year

ATLANTIC REGION – Dave Osanitsch – Shippensburg
Shippensburg won six events and scored in 16 of 18 to win the PSAC Championships.  Working primarily with the jumps, Osanitsch guided freshman Herman Kirkland who broke the PSAC record in long jump and leads nation. Sophomore Cody DeBoer posted and automatic qualifier in the long jump and is seeded sixth heading into the NCAA Championships.  Freshman Chris Thomas broke the school record in the triple jump to win PSAC title. Thomas also ranks 10th nationally in the triple jump. SU has 5 entries in the NCAA Championship Meet and ranks 16th nationally heading into the meet.

CENTRAL REGION – Brady Bonsall – Neb.-Kearney
The RMAC Champions have 2 entries in the NCAA Indoor Championship meet and closed out the regular season ranked fourth in the Central region.  Marty Molina has the nation’s fifth best mark in the triple jump at 50-¾ (15.26m). Bryson Mahlbert enters the championships seeded sixth in the heptathlon with a score of 4,980. 

EAST REGION – John Wallin – Southern Connecticut
John Wallin, in his first year as head coach at Southern Connecticut, lead the program to the Northeast-10 Conference title, a New York Metro championship for the first time in school history, and a third-place finish at the New England Championships. Three school records were set this indoor season, and junior Selasi Lumax leads the nation in the 800m at 1:49.47. Southern Connecticut will be represented in six events at the NCAA Championship and enter the meet ranked eighth in the country.

MIDWEST REGION – Paul Fangman – Indianapolis
In his 14th season at UI, Fangman led his squad to a convincing win at the GLVC Championships with five individual champions and two relay champions.  Fangman was named the GLVC Men’s Coach of the Year, and the Greyhounds have earned four spots in the NCAA Indoor Championship meet.
 
SOUTH REGION – David Cain – Alabama-Huntsville
David Cain’s Alabama-Huntsville program will be represented at the NCAA Championship meet by Luke Beck who comes in ranked tenth in the pole vault (16-0).  Freshman Dezmen Cage finished the season ranked 17th in the 60m (6.85).  Will Rodgers closed out his season ranked 21st in the Mile (4:12.34). The team broke six school records (200m, 400m, 800m, PV, SP, and WT) and ranks No. 1 in the region.

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION – Kip Janvrin / Kirk Pedersen – Central Missouri
Co-Head Coaches Kip Janvrin and Kirk Pedersen led the Central Missouri Mules to the MIAA title. The team scored 154 points, providing a margin of victory of 56 points and setting two MIAA conference records in the process.  UCM will be represented in eight events at the NCAA Championship, led by Drew Frizzell and Brent Vogel.  Frizzell leads the nation in the weight throw and ranks 11th in the shot put while Vogel has the top mark in the heptathlon. The Mules enter the championship ranked sixth in the nation.

SOUTHEAST REGION – Ley Fletcher – Lees-McRae
Ley Fletcher’s Lees-McRae squad completed their season ranked No. 1 in the Southeast Region.  The Bobcats had athletes ranked in the top eight in the region in nine different events, led by sophomore Brandon Williams in the 60 meters and Evan Webb in the pole vault.

WEST REGION – Mike Johnson – Western Oregon
Mike Johnson led his team to the GNAC Championship where UWO athletes claimed four individual championships and placed in every event except one. Western Oregon will be represented at the NCAA Championship meet with their sixth-seeded distance medley relay team. Johnson guided 24 Wolves to the school’s all-time top-ten list, which included two school records. UWO had the top performer in the region in four events and closed out the regular season at the top-ranked team in the region.

Women’s Track Athlete of the Year

ATLANTIC REGION – Neely Spence – Shippensburg
Spence recently won Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championships in the mile, 3,000 meters, and distance medley relay, setting a new conference record in the 3,000-meter event. She enters the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships with the leading mark in the 5,000 meters at 16:01.09 and as the anchor leg of Shippensburg’s top-ranked distance medley relay. Spence is a junior from Shippensburg, Pa.

CENTRAL REGION – Indira Spence – Adams State
A junior from Trelawny, Jamaica, Spence achieved NCAA-automatic qualifying marks in the 60 meters, 60-meter hurdles, and 200 meters during the 2011 Indoor season. She won conference titles in all three events to earn RMAC Track Athlete of the Year honors. Spence will focus on the 60 meters and 60-meter hurdles at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships, as one of only three student-athletes to attempt the sprint/hurdle double.

EAST REGION – Shannon Gagne – New Haven
Gagne, a senior from Meriden, Conn., posted the fastest time in NCAA Division II over 200 meters at 23.60 seconds. She also achieved the fourth-fastest time in the 400 meters at 55.19 seconds and another national top-ten ranking over 60 meters. Gagne won Northeast-10 Conference Championships in the 55 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters, and competed on New Haven’s third-place 4×400-meter relay team.

MIDWEST REGION – Monica Kinney – Grand Valley State
Kinney, who owns the top time in NCAA Division II in the mile at 4:43.64, clearly has range. She also posted top-ten ranked marks in the 800 meters and the 5000 meters, as well as helping Grand Valley State achieve a second-ranked performance in the distance medley relay. A junior from Walker, Mich., she earned 2011 GLIAC titles in the 3,000 meters and distance medley relay and finished second in the 800 meters.

SOUTH REGION – Latrice Johnson – Alabama-Huntsville
Johnson, a junior from Birmingham, Ala., reset the Chargers’ record books in both the 60 meters and the 200 meters during the 2011 indoor season. Her top times rank first in the 60 meters and fourth in the 200 meters within the South Region. She enters the upcoming NCAA Division II Indoor Championships with the tenth-best seeded time in the 60 meters.

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION – Nyoka Cole – Lincoln (Mo.)
In addition to recording the fastest time over 400 meters during the 2011 NCAA Division II season, Cole achieved top-ten ranked marks in the 60 meters, 200 meters, and as a member of Lincoln’s second-ranked 4×400-meter relay. The junior from Mandeville, Jamaica, won the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association title in the 400 meters, finished third in the 60 meters, and finished fourth in the 200 meters to help lead the Blue Tigers to the overall team title.

SOUTHEAST REGION – Kate Griewisch – Lenoir-Rhyne
Earlier this season, the junior from Banner Elk, N.C., won the prestigious Tyson Invitational 5,000 meters in a school-record and NCAA automatic-qualifying time of 16:45.03. This was the second time she reset the school record in the event during the 2011 indoor season, breaking her previous record by over 20 seconds. She also achieved an NCAA provisional-qualifying time in the mile during the indoor campaign.

WEST REGION – Sarah Porter – Western Washington
Porter, a senior from Hockinson, Wash., holds the second-fastest time in NCAA Division II in the 5,000 meters heading into the national championships. Her time of 16:12.68 is also a new school record, breaking her previous record by nearly 15 seconds. At the 2011 GNAC Indoor Championships, she won an individual title in the 5,000 meters and placed second as a member of the Western Washington distance medley relay squad.

Women’s Field Athlete of the Year

ATLANTIC REGION – Brianna Liebold – Indiana (Pa.)
Liebold, a senior from Houston, Pa., was named the PSAC Field MVP for the second-straight year after winning conference titles in both the long and triple jumps. Her triple jump of 39-7¼ (12.07m) at the conference meet is a season best. Liebold is entered in the NCAA Championships as the sixth seed in the long jump (19-2, 5.84m) and ninth seed in the triple.

CENTRAL REGION – Angella Graham – New Mexico Highlands
A senior from Trelawney, Jamaica, is one of six females that will compete in three events at the NCAA Championships. Graham is entered in the long jump (fourth seed), triple jump (sixth seed), and pentathlon (fourth seed). Graham recently swept RMAC titles in those same three events and recorded season bests of 19-2 (5.84m) in the long jump, 39-10 (12.14m) in the triple jump, and 3,644 in the pentathlon at the conference meet.

EAST REGION – Kimberly Johnson – Southern Connecticut
Johnson, a sophomore from Lisbon, Conn., is the fifth seed in the pole vault in the upcoming NCAA Championships. Johnson set a new school record in clearing a season’s best of 12-6¼ (3.82m) in finishing third at the NEICAAA Championships. Johnson, who has been No. 1 in East all year in the pole vault, was also the Northeast-10 champ in the vault.

MIDWEST REGION – Abby Kacsandi – Ashland
The senior from Wooster, Ohio., Kacsandi is also one of the six women entered in three individual events at the NCAA Championships. Along with a possible DMR slot, Kacsandi is entered in the high jump (second seed, 5-10, 1.78m), shot put (13th seed, 46-4, 14.12m), and pentathlon (second seed, 3,819). Kacsandi was the GLIAC Field Athlete of the Year as a result of winning the heptathlon and high jump conference titles, plus adding seconds in the triple jump and as a member of the DMR as well.

SOUTH REGION – Latycia Milton – Claflin
Milton, a junior, was the region’s top performer in the triple jump this season with a season’s best of 37-7¼ (11.46m). Milton was also second in the region in the long jump at 17-2¼ (5.24m)

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION – Lindsay Lettow – Central Missouri
Lettow, a junior from Urbandale, Iowa, joins the legion of six that will be competing in three events at the NCAA Championships. Most notably, Lettow is the Division II leader in the pentathlon with a season best, school record, and conference record, of 3,961 set in winning the MIAA title in the same event. Lettow is also No. 3 nationally in the long jump (19-4, 5.89m) and No. 5 in the 60-meter hurdles (8.53).

SOUTHEAST REGION – Durecelle Campbell – Anderson (S.C.)
Campbell, a senior from Seneca, S.C., led the region in the weight throw by five-and-a-half feet with a season’s best of 46-5½ (14.16m).

WEST REGION – Tuekeha Huntley – Cal State LA
Huntley, a junior from Los Angeles, enters the NCAA Championships as the fifth seed in the pentathlon with a season’s best of 3,610 points – a mark set in winning at Penn State’s Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup.

Women’s Head Coach of the Year

ATLANTIC REGION – Dave Osanitsch – Shippensburg
Shippensburg won PSAC Championships by scoring in 16 of 18 events, winning eight and setting three conference meet records along the way. The Lady Raiders are led by junior Nelly Spence who leads the nation in the 5,000 (16:01.09) and is a member of the top-ranked DMR. SU’s enters the championship ranked ninth nationally and will be represented in four events.

CENTRAL REGION – Mike Thorson – U-Mary
Mike Thorson led his University of Mary Marauders to the NSIC Championship. The tenth-ranked squad will be sending eight athletes to the NCAA Championship meet, led by third-ranked Melissa Agnew in the mile, tenth-ranked Kristen Stewart in the 200, and 11th-ranked Nicketa Coombs in the 400.
 
EAST REGION – Chris Covert – Southern Connecticut
Chris Covert’s Southern Connecticut Owls captured the NE-10 Conference championship as well as grabbing a third-place team finish at NEICAAA, which was best among D-II schools. The Owls will be represented in four events at the NCAA Indoor Championship meet.  SCSU heads into the championship meet ranked first in the East Region and 19th nationally. 

MIDWEST REGION – Jerry Baltes – Grand Valley State
Jerry Baltes led the Grand Valley State Lakers to the GLIAC Championship with meet record 238 points, more than doubling the total of the second-place team. The Lakers will be represented in 19 events at the NCAA Indoor Championship meet. GVSU has been the No.1-ranked team throughout the entire season due in large part to their dominating distance crew led by Monica Kenny who ranks first in the mile (4:43.64) and fourth in the 5K (16:26).

SOUTH REGION – Von Smith – Kentucky State
Von Smith’s Thoroughbrettes closed out the regular season ranked No. 1 in the South Region.  The team will be represented by Ebone Washington at the NCAA Championship meet where she will compete in the 60-meter hurdles.  A strong long jump group and hurdle group propelled Kentucky State to a top spot in the regional rankings.

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION – Victor Thomas – Lincoln (Mo.)
Victor Thomas’ nationally No. 2-ranked Lincoln Blue Tigers will be represented with twelve spots in the NCAA National Championship meet.  The Blue Tigers claimed the MIAA Championship by 32 pts, winning four events in the process.  Nyoke Cole leads the nation in the 400 and is also part of the nation leading 4×400 relay. 

SOUTHEAST REGION – Scott Simmons – Queens (N.C.)
Scott Simmons’ Royals posted school records in four events including the 400 meters, the shot put, 800 and the DMR. With four of the top eight performances in the region in the 800 and mile, and a region-leading DMR, the middle-distance and distance groups led the way for the Royals.

WEST REGION – Karl Lerum – Seattle Pacific
Karl Lerum’s Seattle Pacific Falcons earned the GNAC Championship and closed out the regular season ranked No. 1 in the West Region.  The Falcons will be represented at the NCAA Championship meet by Melissa Peaslee who ranks eighth in the pole vault coming into the meet.