All-Time Performances and Fantastic Finishes Highlight National Athlete of the Week Awards
NEW ORLEANS – A division record is amongst this week’s edition of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athlete of the Week awards, but just as worthy of recognition as all-time records are fantastic finishes.
Elizabeth Evans of Rose-Hulman claimed the DIII outdoor high jump record, but Georgia Tech sophomore Brandon Lasater claimed the most exciting finish of the week in the Florida Relays 4×800 relay, chasing down the No. 1 800 runner of the 2013 outdoor season for the narrow victory.
Lasater and UCF’s Octavious Freeman are the division I male and female winners, respectively, of the weekly award for their performances at the Florida Relays, where Lasater ran down the competition and Freeman ran away from it.
Caldwell and Ashland thrower Garrett Grey earned the DII female and male awards, respectively, with all-time historic performances in their events to represent the GLIAC.
Evans and Whitworth thrower Carter Comito each made their own impressions on the Division III record books to win this week’s DIII honors.
Division I Men
Georgia Tech, Sophomore
Just two weeks ago Lasater (Perry, Ga.) owned a personal-best of 1:53.63 set during the 2013 indoor season. Thanks to a clutch performance in the final 100 meters of the Florida Relays 4×800 relay he now owns one of this collegiate track & field season’s most memorable finishes. After improving his career PR by nearly more than four seconds to 1:48.70 last weekend and then again down to 1:48.34 and No. 5 in DI in Gainesville this weekend, he topped off the two-weekend stretch by chasing down collegiate 800 meters leader Sean Obinwa of Florida on his home track in the final 100 to steal a victory from the Gators with a 7:22.37 to Florida’s 7:22.41. Trailing by nearly 10 meters on the final straight after starting their anchor legs at approximately the same time, Lasater kicked into gear and closed the gap in the closing seconds of the race and edging out Obinwa on what was recorded as a 1:48.30.
Dedric Dukes, Florida – Ran a 20.38w (+3.5m/s) to win the Florida Relays 200 meters with the No. 1 qualifying time in the country.
Aaron Brown, USC – Won the 100 at the Florida Relays in 10.15w (+2.1m/s) and finished runner-up in the 200 (20.64).
Henry Lelei, Texas A&M – Ran a collegiate-leading 8:32.94 3000 steeplechase at the Oregon Pepsi Team Challenge.
Jeffrey Gibson, Oral Roberts – Won the 400 hurdles at the Texas Tech Open in a collegiate-leading 49.83 (converted to 49.94 for altitude for qualifying purposes)
Division I Women
Freeman (Lake Wales, Fla.) blazed past world-class competition at the Florida Relays to claim both the 100 and 200 meters titles in Gainesville. She first pulled away from the field in the back half of the race to dash to an all-conditions world- and NCAA-leading 11.02 (+1.2m/s) and win by more than a third of a second. The time is tied for the ninth-fastest wind-legal in-season performance in collegiate history, and makes her the seventh fastest performer in event history, tied with Alexandria Anderson of Texas. She followed up her 100 with double the fun at 200, where she won in 22.85, which is tied for the collegiate lead with Kamaria Brown of Texas A&M. The win came at the expense of a field of professionals, including runner-up Natasha Hastings and third-place finisher Dee Dee Trotter.
Anna Jelmini, Arizona State – Recorded a collegiate-leading 198-10 (60.61m) in the discus at the Mesa Classic, placing her No. 10 on the all-time collegiate performer list.
Tia Brooks, Oklahoma – Recorded the sixth-best throw in outdoor collegiate history with a mark of 61-5½ (18.73m) to win the Sun Angel Classic.
Shelbi Houlihan, Arizona State – Is the collegiate leader and new school record-holder at 1500 meters by more than 3½ seconds with a 4:13.64 showing at the Sun Angel Classic.
Kori Carter, Stanford – Defeated 2012 Olympic 400 hurdles finalist Georganne Moline of Arizona in her signature event on her home track at the Jim Click Shootout, running a nearly three-second school record of 54.71 for the collegiate leader.
Christabel Nettey, Arizona State – Defeated indoor long jump champion Andrea Geubelle of Kansas with two school-record jumps of 22-01¾ (6.75m)
Natoya Goule, LSU – Ran a world-leading 2:01.18 in the 800 and a 53.2 anchor on the winning 4×400 relay team to help LSU to dual meet victories over UCLA and TCU at UCLA’s Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner Kersee Invitational
Division II Men
With a winning mark of 218-10 (66.71m) in the hammer throw at the Northeast Ohio Quad this weekend, Grey (Grahamsville, N.Y.) became the 12th-best performer in the event in DII history. He recorded the mark on his very first throw, and his series also included the second-best throw in the division for 2013 with a 213-10 (65.19m) on his fourth attempt. He claimed the event by more than eight feet over the runner-up, and he leads DII by more than five feet. He is No. 7 among collegians in all divisions so far this season.
Elhadji Mbow, Saint Augustine’s – Was the top collegiate finisher and fourth overall in the Florida Relays 400 hurdles at 50.53.
Jordan Yamoah, Texas A&M-Kingsville – With a clearance of 17-5 (5.31m) at the Angelo State David Noble Relays, Yamoah recorded the best vault – indoors or outdoors – since Western Washington’s Ryan Brown went 17-5 in the 2011 indoor season.
Division II Women
Caldwell (Tuscarawas, Ohio) became the third woman in DII history to clear 14 feet in the pole vault with a 14-2 (4.32m) to win the Michigan State Spartan Invitational this weekend, which was contested indoors due to weather. She won the event by nearly a foot over the runner-up. The mark is a vast improvement for Caldwell from a year ago, when she set a school record of 13-3½ (4.05m), and a continuation of the growth she showed during the indoor season with a then-career-best 13-11¼ (4.25m). The clearance places her third on the comprehensive (indoor and outdoor) DII pole vault list.
Vashti Thomas, Academy of Art – Won the triple jump at the Arizona State Sun Angel Classic (43-1/13.13m) and defeated NCAA DI indoor long jump champ Andrea Geubelle of Kansas in the long jump with a DII-leading mark of 21-11 (6.68m). The long jump mark is No. 2 in DII history.
Kearah Danville, Angelo State – Moved into third on the all-time DII outdoor triple jump list with a winning mark of 43-7 (13.28m) at the Angelo State David Noble Relays.
Yanique Haye, Lincoln (Mo.) – Won the 400 hurdles at the Emporia State Relays in 57.81, defeating defending DII champ and teammate Michelle Cumberbatch and becoming the 19th woman in DII history to go sub-58 in the event.
Division III Men
Comito (Spokane, Wash.) entered the weekend as the collegiate leader in both the discus and the shot put, and left the weekend more convincingly so. With a winning throw of 203-5 (62.00m) in the discus at the Sam Adams Classic, he extended his collegiate lead by more than three meters, pushing him to No. 2 on the all-time DIII discus list and making him just the third in division history to surpass 200 feet in the event. His series also included another throw of 200m+ at 200-3 (61.04m) and all six of his throws would have been adequate for the division lead. He now leads all DIII competitors by more than 22 feet. His gains in the shot put were less pronounced, but his 58-6¾ (17.85m) extends his division lead to nearly two feet over indoor shot put champion David Pless of Bates.
Division III Women
Rose Hulman, Senior
Evans (Bicknell, Ind.) no longer has to worry about sharing the all-time outdoor DIII high jump record, as she claimed the record outright with a clearance of 5-11½ (1.82m) at this past weekend’s Bellarmine Invitational. Entering the weekend in a three-way tie with Middlebury’s Kristy Laramee of Middlebury and Maria Megnin of Hartwick at 5-11¼ (1.81m), Evans cleared her DIII-record height on her final attempt after making her first four heights on five attempts. She made three attempts at a comprehensive (indoor and outdoor) DIII high jump record of 6-¾ (1.85m), but could not clear the bar. She had tied the record in her 2013 outdoor debut at the Rose-Hulman Early Bird.
Ashante Little, Wheaton (Mass.) – Won the Ramapo Roadrunner 100 hurdles in 13.95, making her the 10th fastest in DIII history in the event.
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.