Postema, Cazzola Earn DIII National Athlete of the Week Honors
NEW ORLEANS – The all-time indoor collegiate top-10 lists for all three NCAA divisions received major revisions this weekend in a number of different events, many of which came courtesy of this week’s U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athletes of the Week.
Arizona’s Lawi Lalang and Arkansas’ Makeba Alcide penned their names high on the all-time collegiate lists in the men’s 3000 and women’s pentathlon, respectively, to earn National Athlete of the Week honors for Division I.
Headlining the weekend in Division II were a historic high jump performance from Emporia State’s Briar Ploude and a dominating weekend by Academy of Art’s Vashti Thomas.
Three was the lucky number in Division III as both Christy Cazzola of UW-Oshkosh and Defiance’s Tom Postema each turned in efforts that ranked them third all-time in DIII in their respective events.
THE AWARD WINNERS
DIVISION I MEN – Lawi Lalang, Arizona (Junior)
Lalang (Eldoret, Kenya) ran a historic 3000 meters at this past weekend’s Razorback Invitational – the DI Meet of the Week – clocking in with a scorching 7:42.79, good for third on the all-time collegiate indoor list. The field wasn’t even close to Lalang as he crossed the line, as he finished more than 15 seconds in front of runner-up Kevin Williams of Oklahoma, who happens to be the second-fastest collegian in the nation. Lalang’s time is the fastest by a collegian since Arkansas’ Alastair Cragg ran a 7:38.59 in the same building in 2004. He now owns a time faster than the collegiate performances by multiple-time world champion Bernard Lagat and former Bowerman winners Galen Rupp and Cam Levins.
Honorable Mention: Ricky Robertson, Ole Miss; Kevin Lazas, Arkansas; Patrick Casey, Oklahoma; Casimir Loxsom, Penn State; Marvin Bracey, Florida State; Derek Drouin, Indiana; Penn State 4×200 relay team
DIVISION I WOMEN – Makeba Alcide, Arkansas (Senior)
Alcide (Castries, St. Lucia) had a career day in each of her five pentathlon events en route to a score of 4,464 at the Razorback Invitational this past weekend, making her the third-best performer on the all-time collegiate list – behind three-time NCAA champs Brianne Theisen and Jacquelyn Johnson – and giving her the sixth-best score in collegiate history. Headlining a day during which she set new personal bests in each of the five components of the pentathlon was her performance in the high jump; with a mark of 6-2¼ (1.89m) she is third in the nation among all high jumpers and just an inch off the national lead. Her score was more than 400 points better than the runner-up and is more than 250 points higher than the second-best collegiate performance this season.
Honorable Mention: Morgann Leleux, Georgia; Regina George, Arkansas; Ebony Eutsy, Florida; Amanda Winslow, Florida State; Abbey D’Agostino, Dartmouth; Brigetta Barrett, Arizona; Chanice Porter, Georgia
DIVISION II MEN – Briar Ploude, Emporia State (Junior)
Ploude (Meridan, Kan.) showed that he belongs in the conversation as one of the top high jumpers not just in DII, but in the entire country, with his school-record mark of 7-3¾ (2.23m) at this past weekend’s Jayhawk Classic at Kansas. His mark is DII’s best this season, and stands as the 10th best among all collegians this season. Historically, Ploude’s leap ranks him 19th among all DII student-athletes, regardless of indoor or outdoor competition.
Honorable Mention: Tabor Stevens, Adams State
DIVISION II WOMEN – Vashti Thomas, Academy of Art (Senior)
Thomas (San Jose, Calif.) won four events at the Jackson’s Invitational at Boise State to lead the Academy of Arts Urban Knights, positioning herself at or near the top of the DII leaderboards with each performance. She claimed the long jump with a DII-leading mark of 20-5¾ (6.24m) and won the 200m in a career-best 23.84, placing her second on the DII list in the event. She also took the triple jump with a mark of 40-3½ (12.28m), good for fourth in DII, and won the 60 hurdles in 8.29, which would have been good for third in the division if she didn’t already own a tie for the second spot at 8.24.
Honorable Mention: Sam Lockhart, Grand Valley State; Helen Crofts, Simon Fraser
DIVISION III MEN – Tom Postema, Defiance (Junior)
Postema (Defiance, Ohio) obliterated his competition in the weight throw at this weekend’s Defiance Alumni Invitational, winning by more than 20 feet with a career-best mark of 66-7 (20.29m). Not only is Postema the DIII leader with his performance, he has established himself as the third-best in the event in DIII history. With the mark he also makes a name for himself on the national stage, as he is now 12th in the nation among all divisions. His winning throw, which also stands as a school and Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference record, was the best of an impressive series that included two throws farther than 20 meters and five better than 19 meters, all of which would have put him in the top five of the division for 2013.
Honorable Mention: Nick Baatz, UW-Oshkosh; Peter Geraghty, North Central (Ill.)
DIVISION III WOMEN – Christy Cazzola, UW-Oshkosh (Senior)
Cazzola (Kaukauna, Wis.) continued her phenomenal 2012-13 campaign this past weekend at the UW-Oshkosh Titan Open with a blazing 4:44.73 mile performance in which she beat the runner-up finisher by nearly 30 seconds. Her time is the fastest in DIII by just shy of 15 seconds, and is the third-best mile run in DIII history. She was less than a second from clocking the fastest mile in DIII history, narrowly missing Wartburg’s Missy Buttry and her 2005 record of 4:43.92. Cazzola adds this achievement to her all-time DIII-best 5000 time (16:21.49) set earlier this season and the sixth-best 800 (2:09.80) set last season.
Honorable Mention: Michelle Favre, Ramapo; Elizabeth Evans, Rose-Hulman
ABOUT THE NATIONAL ATHLETE OF THE WEEK AWARD
Awarded to six collegiate track and field and cross country athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions) each Monday by the USTFCCCA office, the National Athlete of the Week Award will spotlight exceptional performances by student-athletes from around the nation.
Nominations are open to the public. Coaches and sports information directors are encouraged to nominate their student-athletes; as are student-athletes, their families and friends, and fans of their programs.
The award seeks to highlight not only the very best times, marks and scores on a week-to-week basis, but also performances that were significant on the national landscape and/or the latest in a series of strong outings. Quality of competition, suspenseful finishes and other factors will also play a role in the decision.
Nominations should provide qualitative detail to explain the noteworthiness of the student-athlete’s performance. The manner in which his or her event(s) was won or nearly won; any records (school, conference, collegiate, etc.) broken as a result; the national significance of the time, mark or score; and the credentials of the competition are all pertinent details for quality nominations.
Photos, videos and interviews are also encouraged.
Nominations, which can be competed here, are due each Monday by 12 p.m. EST, and winners will be announced by 4 p.m. EST.