Record-Setting Taiwo and Cazzola Headline National Athlete of the Week

Courtesy: Kyle Terwillegar, USTFCCCA

February 11, 2013   

NEW ORLEANS - UW-Oshkosh’s Christy Cazzola had herself quite the weekend with two Division III indoor records to bring her season total to three, and now she has three U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athlete of the Week awards to match.

MORE INFO: Previous Winners

Cazzola and her 2:05.76 800 and 4:43.13 mille at the Iowa State Classic on Saturday headline an award class this week that features a heptathlon high jump world-best mark and world-leading score from Washington’s Jeremy Taiwo; a DII high jumper in Western State’s Barbara Szabo who has taken the national lead in the event; and a young sprinter in UCF’s Aurieyall Scott who dethroned the reigning Bowerman winner in her signature event.

Taiwo and Scott represent DI this week, while Szabo and Saint Augustine’s hurdler Moussa Dembele receive the awards for DII studdent-athletes.

Cazzola and UW-Stevens Point middle-distance runner Dan Sullivan earn the awards for DIII.

Full information on each of these student-athletes’ performances can be found below.

The Award Winners

Division I Men – Jeremy Taiwo, Washington (Senior)

After missing the entire 2012 season due to injury, Taiwo (Renton, Wash.) is back and seemingly better than ever after clearing a world-best 7-4½ (2.25m) in the high jump component of heptathlon and scoring a 2013 world-leading 6,156 points overall at the Boise State Team Challenge this weekend. His high jump mark is the best-ever by a heptathlete, edging out Scott Sellers (2007) and Nick Ross’ (2011) previous world-best mark of 7-4¼ (2.24m), while his overall score is the fifth-best in collegiate history. With former The Bowerman winner Ashton Eaton claiming three of the four scores better than his, Taiwo becomes the third-best collegiate performer all-time. He set personal-bests in five of the seven components, including a five-inch PR in his exceptional high jump performance. His overall score places him seventh in US history in the heptathlon.

Honorable Mention: Marvin Bracy, Florida State; Kennedy Kithuka, Texas Tech; David Verburg, George Mason; Derek Drouin, Indiana; Michael Woepse, UCLA; Marquis Dendy, Florida

Division I Women – Aurieyall Scott, UCF (Junior)

Not only did Scott (Greenbelt, Md.) run the world’s fastest 200 in 2013 with a 22.68 at the Tyson Invitational, she did it against reigning The Bowerman winner Kimberlyn Duncan’s career-day in her signature event. Separated by nearly 1.5 seconds from the other two runners in their heat and more than half a second from the third-place overall finisher, Scott blazed edged out Duncan (22.72) both on the track and in the record books, as Scott’s 22.68 made her the ninth-fastest collegian in the event indoors, displacing Duncan to No. 10. Scott also ran the fastest prelims and semifinals times in the 60 meters at 7.24 and 7.20, respectively, but chose to forgo the finals in preparation for the 200.

Honorable Mention: Shanieka Thomas, San Diego State; Betsy Saina, Iowa State; Regina George, Arkansas

Division II  Men – Moussa Dembele, Saint Augustine’s (Junior)

Dembele (Dakar, Senegal) did his fair share to help Saint Augustine’s to a men’s CIAA Indoor Track Championship, winning the 60 hurdles in 7.75 – a time that not only makes him the fastest in DII this season, but places him in the conversation as one of the best hurdlers in the country, regardless of division. He ranks eighth in the NCAA after beating current No. 2 hurdler Andre Collins of Johnson C. Smith, and his time is tied for seventh in DII history. With several student-athletes on the all-time list clocking multiple times faster than his, he ranks in a tie for fourth on the all-time performer list. The last time a DII student-athlete ran as fast was 2011 when Grand Canyon’s Tyler Sipes ran an equal time at the DII Indoor Championships, and the last time someone ran faster than 7.75 was Decosma Wright of Lincoln (Mo.)’s 7.72 in 2006.

Honorable Mention: Tabor Stevens and Kevin Batt, Adams State; Micah Chelimo, Alaska Anchorage

Division II Women – Barbara Szabo, Western State (Junior)

Szabo (Budapest, Hungary) has set – and cleared – the bar for women high jumpers at not just the DII level, but the entire NCAA, with her clearance of 6-3½ (1.92m) at the CSM Twilight on Saturday ahead of 2012 The Bowerman finalist and Olympic silver medalist Brigetta Barrett of Arizona. The mark makes her the third-best performer in the event in comprehensive (indoor and outdoor) DII history, tied with Phyllis Bluntson of Cal State-Bakersfield in 1982. Hers is the best DII jump since Lavern Spencer of Albany State cleared 6-4¼ (1.94m) in 2005. Szabo entered at 5-10¾ (1.80) after the rest of the field had gone out at 5-3 (1.60), and didn’t miss until her first attempt at 6-2¾  (1.90m). She cleared it on the next attempt, and followed up with an NCAA leading and IAAF World Championships "B" qualifying standard clearance of 6-3½ on one attempt. She missed three attempts at the "A" standard 6-4¾ (1.95m).

Honorable Mention: Samantha Edwards, Virginia State; Alicia Nelson, Adams State

Division III Men – Dan Sullivan, UW-Stevens Point (Junior)

Sullivan (Elkhorn, Wis.) followed up his DIII-leading mile last week with another division-leading performance in the 800 meters with a 1:52.29 at the UW-Stevens Point Quad Meet. His time leads DIII despite not having a competitor to seriously challenge him in the race, winning by 3.5 seconds over the runner-up. The DIII-leading 800 comes one week after his 4:08.76 mile performance, another race in which he won big (10 seconds) wasn’t seriously pushed.

Division III Women – Christy Cazzola, UW-Oshkosh (Senior)

This marks the third time Cazzola (Kaukauna, Wis.) has been named the DIII female National Athlete of the Week – twice individually and once as a member of a DMR team – but this particular award is her most impressive accomplishment, earned with all-time indoor Division III records in both the 800 and the mile in the same day at the Iowa State Classic on Saturday. At approximately 12:40 p.m. CT Cazzola finished runner-up the seeded mile run in a DIII record 4:43.13, surpassing the 2005 record of 4:43.92 set Missy Buttry of Wartburg at the DII Indoor Championships. She again took the track just over an hour later for the 800, an event she won in a DIII all-time best 2:05.76. The time is more than a second faster than the previous record of 2:06.89 set in 1987 by UMass-Boston’s Genesia Eddins at the DII Indoor Championships. This marks her second and third DIII records of the season, as she led off her senior campaign with a 5000 record 16:21.49 at GVSU.

Honorable Mention: Wartburg 4×400 relay team

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.