Barber, Geubelle Earn National Athlete of the Week Honors

Courtesy: Kyle Terwillegar, USTFCCCA

February 4, 2013   

NEW ORLEANS – This week’s U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athletes of the Week range from seniors improving upon already impressive resumes to a freshman making his mark not only on the NCAA level but also the world stage, and the award’s first repeat winners.

MORE INFO: Previous Winners

Representing Division I are Akron’s freshman pole vault phenom Shawn Barber and senior Kansas horizontal jumper Andrea Geubelle.

The Division II honorees are senior long jumper Aron Kurzinski of Seton Hill and junior sprinter Donna-Lee Hylton of Lincoln (Mo.).

Division III’s award winners are senior UW-Whitewater hurdler/jumper Marcus Smith and the UW-Oshkosh distance medley relay team (former DIII National Athlete of the Week Christy Cazzola, McKenzie Kelly, Stephanie Jahn and Kylee Verhasselt). Both Smith and Cazzola become the first student-athletes to earn the award multiple times.

Below are the full details on each of the honoree’s outstanding weekends.

The Award Winners

DI Men – Shawn Barber, Akron (Freshman)

Barber (Kingwood, Texas) continued his dominating freshman campaign in the pole vault this past weekend at the Zips’ home Akron Invitational. With a winning vault of 18-3¾ (5.58m) – the top mark in the competition by 17 inches – Barber has now won all four of his pole vault competitions on the young season. He owns the top three vaults in the nation this season, including the NCAA leader at 18-4 (5.60m), and four of the top six. After clearing 18-3¾ on his first attempt, he raised the bar to 18-8 (5.69m) for three attempts at the World Junior record, which he could not attain. He became the first student-athlete in the nine-year history of the Akron Invitational to record a vault higher than 18 feet.

Honorable Mention: Brandon Pounds, Indiana State; Japheth Cato, Wisconsin; Bryce Robinson, Tulsa

DI Women – Andrea Geubelle, Kansas (Senior)

Geubelle (University Place, Wash.) had a career-day at the Armory Collegiate Invitational long jump this past weekend with a mark of 21-11½ (6.69m), breaking not only the Kansas school record but also the meet record. Her mark is just a quarter of an inch shy of the collegiate all-time top 10 performers list, and broke the previous Kansas indoor record by 11 inches. Hers is the farthest jump in the nation this season by 11 inches, and ranks her seventh in the world in 2013. She also owns the No. 2 spot on the Division I triple jump performance list.

Honorable Mention: Kimberlyn Duncan, LSU; Villanova DMR team

DII Men – Aron Kurzinski, Seton Hill (Senior)

Competing this weekend at the Armory Collegiate Invitational against a field containing some of the top DI long jumpers in the nation, Kurzinski (Greensburg, Penn.) finished fourth with a mark of 24-7¾ (7.51m). His mark is the season’s best in DII and stands as the 15th-best in the country among all divisions. With the mark he breaks his own school record of 24-1 (7.34m) set earlier this season and becomes the first long jumper in Division II to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships.

Honorable Mention: Drew Windle, Ashland

DII Women – Donna-Lee Hylton, Lincoln (Mo.) (Junior)

Hylton (Kingston, Jamaica) turned in the division’s fastest 400 this season at 54.56, which came in a win over DI talent at Nebraska’s Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational this past weekend. Despite qualifying for the event finals with the fifth-fastest time, Hylton came back in the finals to take the win over competitors from Kentucky, Drake and Illinois. In addition to her 400 performance, she also ran a strong 200, finishing in 24.38 for the division’s ninth-fastest time of 2012-13.

Honorable Mention: Latoya King, Lincoln (Mo.); Amanda Ouedraogo, Abilene Christian

DIII Men – Marcus Smith, UW-Whitewater (Senior)

Smith (West Allis, Wis.) becomes the first multiple individual student-athlete to earn National Athlete of the Week honors after his historic performances in the 60 hurdles and triple jump at the "Squig" Converse Invitational this past weekend. Smith ran a DII-leading 8.01 in the 60 hurdles, making him the sixth-fastest hurdler in division history and breaking his own facility record. He also broke into the top 10 all-time in the triple jump after leaping 50-4½ (15.35m) for 10th all time. He also extend his national lead in the event to nearly a foot and tied the facility record set by Adeoye Madogunjie of the University of Chicago in 2004 at the DIII National Championships.

Honorable Mention: Maxwell Dunne, St. Thomas (Minn.); Ieuan Thomas, Western State

DIII Women – UW-Oshkosh DMR/4×400 Relay Team

While technically not an individual student-athlete, the collective performance of the UW-Oshkosh distance medley relay team – former DIII National Athlete of the Week Christy Cazzola, McKenzie Kelly, Stephanie Jahn and Kylee Verhasselt – was too much to dismiss. The team kicked off the track portion of the meet with a historic and dominant 11:43.46 showing in the DMR, making them the eighth-fastest squad in DIII history and the 2013 DIII leader. Perhaps even more impressive was the solo nature of the time, as the Titans claimed the race by nearly 1:10 over runner-up UW-Whitewater. Just for good measure, Cazzola, Jahn and Verhasselt closed the meet by winning the 4×400 relay in 3:56.25, good for fourth in DIII this season.

Honorable Mention: Nicole Schafer, Cortland State

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.