Lyle’s Heroic and Selfless Decision Headlines National Athlete of the Week
NEW ORLEANS – This week’s selection of National Athletes of the Week was by far the most difficult with tremendous distance running, strong conference championships performances and blazing Relays performances across the country producing scores of deserving candidates who could have won on most other weekends.
Collegiate track & field saved its best DI performances for the very end of the weekend — or the beginning of the week, depending on your time zone — at the Stanford Payton Jordan Invitational. Diego Estrada of Northern Arizona earned the award for his incendiary 5000 meters performance, while Iowa State’s Betsy Saina earned the women’s award with a dominant showing at 10,000 meters later in the night.
But the best performance of all was one that didn’t take place in competition, as New Hampshire thrower Cameron Lyles on Wednesday donated bone marrow to an anonymous lymphoblastic leukemia patient, effectively and selflessly ending his collegiate track & field career while providing the potential start to a total stranger’s road to recovery.
Fred Taylor of Grand Canyon turned in a number of strong sprints performances to help his team to a PacWest title and himself to National Athlete of the Week honors; while the relay corps at the Academy of Art will be splitting the award for their strong showings at the Drake Relays — including a collegiate record.
DIII was highlighted by a pair of top-10 all-time performances from thrower Tom Postema of Defiance and Nicole Michmerhuizen of Calvin College.
Division I Men
Cameron Lyle, New Hampshire
Senior – Throws
In a weekend filled with historic performances and heroic conference championship efforts, the most heroic and meaningful track & field action came from New Hampshire thrower Cameron Lyle (Plaistow, N.H.) — and it didn’t happen anywhere near a track & field complex. The top shot putter for the Wildcats, Lyle donated bone marrow Wednesday in order to attempt to save a complete stranger’s life, setting aside the final months of his track & field career to come to the aid of an anonymous 28-year-old man battling lymphoblastic leukemia. In forgoing the remainder of his senior season, Lyle has given to this young man a chance at new life and a light of hope in what are surely his darkest times — making a far larger and more significant imprint on this world than any amount of shot put attempts into the ground could ever make.
Courtesy of CBS News
Diego Estrada, Northern Arizona
Senior – Distance
Estrada (Salinas, Calif.) put on a show for those track & field fans who stayed up in the late hours of Sunday night, running a 13:15.33 5000 meters at Stanford’s Payton Jordan Invitational — good for the second-fastest in-season time in collegiate history. Finishing third overall by a second to Ben True — the top American finisher at the World XC Championships — and 2012 Olympic Steeplechaser Evan Jager, Estrada clocked the fastest 5000 time since Washington State’s Henry Rono set the collegiate record of 13:08.4 in 1978. After sitting back in the pack for the first half of the race, joining the lead pack for the latter half. In 10th with three laps remaining, he picked off five runners before the bell lap, where he burst past 2011 5000 meter champ Leonard Korir and former All-American Hassan Mead on the final straightaway. Estrada is now ranked No. 1 at 5000 meters, No. 4 at 10,000 (28:52.73) and No. 19 at 1500 (3:41.90).
Derek Drouin, Indiana – Broke the Penn Relays and Franklin Field high jump records with a clearance of 7-7¾ (2.33m), giving him the best mark in the 119-year history of the fabled meet.
Riley Masters, Oklahoma – Top collegian in the Payton Jordan 1500 meters competition with a collegiate-leading 3:38.79 — a two-second personal best.
Girmo Mecheso, Oklahoma State – Finished 10th in the Payton Jordan 10,000 meters race in 27:52.38, which leads all collegians by nearly 38 seconds.
Ameer Webb and the Texas A&M relay teams – Anchored two collegiate-leading winning relays at the Penn Relays — 4×200 in 1:20.75 and 4×400 in 3:02.52 — and won the 100 meters in 10.24.
Casimir Loxsom and the Penn State relay teams – Ran two sub-1:47 800 meter relay legs at the Penn Relays — a 1:46.3 in the 11th-fastest 4×800 relay in Penn Relays history and a 1:46.7 in the winning DMR performance. Penn State is the first team to win both races since Texas in 2008.
Bryshon Nellum, USC – Ran a collegiate-leading 20.39 in a dual meet against UCLA, in addition to winning the 400 in 46.26 and anchoring the winning 4×400 relay.
Division I Women
Betsy Saina, Iowa State
Senior – Distance
Two races so far in 2013 for Saina (Eldoret, Kenya) with two all-time top-five performances and two National Athlete of the Week awards to show for it, this time coming courtesy of a dominating 31:37.22 10,000 meters performance at the Payton Jordan Invitational. Her dominating seven-second win vaulted her to No. 3 on the all-time in-season collegiate list and makes her just the third woman to break the 32-minute barrier, joining former Iowa State runner Lisa Koll and Sally Kipyego of Texas Tech, who each accomplished the feat twice. Saina and New Balance pro Kim Smith battled through 8000 meters for the lead, but it was Saina who took command in the final 2k and claimed victory. She handily defeated the next-best collegians in Jordan Hasay of Oregon (sixth, 32:06.64) and Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton of Wichita State (seventh, 32:07.20), who ran the fifth- and sixth-fastest times in collegiate history. Her time is the second-fastest in the world this season behind Shalane Flannagan’s 31:04.85, and it meets the World Championships "A" Standard. Her season debut at the end of March on the very same track resulted in what is now the fifth-fastest in-season collegiate 5000 meters performance in history at 15:12.05.
Emma Coburn, Colorado – Won the 3000 steeplechase at Payton Jordan in 9:28.26 — the No. 3 time in in-season collegiate history — making her just the second collegiate woman to dip under 9:30 during the collegiate season, with Jenny Barringer (Simpson) (three times). She also ran a 4:11.36 at the Drake Relays elite 1500 section 48 hours earlier, finishing eighth.
Brigetta Barrett, Arizona – Won the high jump at the Arizona-Arizona State-Northern Arizona double-dual with a clearance of 6-4¼ (1.94m), surpassing the previous dual-meet record of 6-4 (1.93m) set by UCLA’s Amy Acuff in 1995.
Natalja Piliusina, Oklahoma State – Finished fourth in the fastest 1500 meter section of the Payton Jordan Invitational in a collegiate-leading 4:09.57 — best among collegians by nearly a second over Florida’s Cory McGee, the next-best collegian in the race.
Phyllis Francis and the Oregon 4×400 relay team – Ran a 49.9 anchor leg on the Ducks’ winning 4×400 relay team at the Penn Relays, running the 10th-fastest time in collegiate history in 3:26.73 — a new Penn Relays and Franklin Field record.
Kamaria Brown and Texas A&M relay teams – Ran the third leg of the winning 4×100 relay, moving from third to first during her leg; and anchored the winning 4×200 relay, giving the Aggies their fifth title in the event in the past six seasons. Brown also anchored the third-place 4×400 relay team in 50.2.
Division II Men
Fred Taylor, Grand Canyon
Junior – Sprints
Taylor (St. Louis, Mo.) helped carry his team to a PacWest Outdoor Championships team title with wins at 100 meters, 200 meters and in the 4×100 relay. His winning time of 10.23 (+1.1m/s) at 100 meters is the second-fastest time in the division this season, and the fastest wind-legal mark in the division. He edged out teammate Dario Horvat for the title, who holds the fastest qualifying time at 10.18 (+2.1m/s). His 20.75 (+1.1m/s) at 200 meters edged out Remontay McClain of Azusa Pacific — the third-fastest collegian at the distance this season — by .02 of a second to earn 10 more points for his team. His 20.75 is the fastest qualifying time in the division this season. His relay leg propelled the Antelopes to 10 more points in the relay with a 39.74, giving them the second-fastest time in the division this season.
Sabiel Anderson, Lincoln (Mo.) – Won the 400 hurdles at the Drake Relays in 50.33 — best in DII and No. 5 among all collegians — and ran legs of the runner-up 4×100 and 4×400 teams.
Michael Jordan, Southern Indiana – Ran a DII-leading 8:42.63 3000 steeplechase at the Payton Jordan Invitational, finishing third in the fast section with the 15th-fastest time in division history.
Division II Women
Academy of Art Relay Teams
Vashti Thomas, Julian Purvis, Briana Stewart, Jesseka Raymond, Dinesha Bean, Dominique Berry, Keanna Moody
The Academy of Art relay teams made the most of their trip to the Drake Relays, winning a pair of titles and getting an auto-qualifying time in another. The 4×100 team of Purvis, Stewart, Thomas and Raymond not only won the Division II section of the event, but ended up with the fastest time among all collegiate teams at 44.19 — beating out DI champ Illinois (44.28) from another section. The mark is the fourth-fastest in DII history and is No. 9 among all collegiate teams in 2013. The foursome of Raymond, Stewart, Bean and Purvis tied the shuttle hurdle relay collegiate record with a mark of 52.50 — equal to the mark set at the Penn Relays in 2010 by Texas A&M and then-Aggie Vashti Thomas. The Urban Knights also posted an auto qualifier in the 4×400 with a time of 3:40.94, good for third in the race and fifth in the division for 2013.
Kaydian Jones, District of Columbia – Just a sophomore, she fueled her team’s runner-up performance at the East Coast Conference Outdoor Championships with three individual titles (100, 200, long jump), a 4×100 relay title and two other point-scoring performances (400h, 2nd; triple jump, 5th) for a total of 40 individual points and 10 relay points.
Lincoln (Mo.) 4×400 relay team – Ran the eighth-fastest time in DII history in 3:34.52, beating the runners-up by nearly six seconds.
Jessica Rowland, Findlay – Defeated current DII leader Carly Fehringer of Wayne State (Neb.) in the hammer throw en route to a third-place showing at the Drake Relays with a mark of 204-2 (62.23m).
Samantha Elliot, Johnson C. Smith – Won the college division of the 400 hurdles at the Penn Relays in a DII-leading 57.64 — good for 14th in DII history.
Bethany Drake, Western Washington – Just a freshman, Drake launched a DII-leading mark of 157-4 at the WWU Twilight. She leads the division by nearly three feet.
Division III Men
Tom Postema, Defiance
Senior – Throws
Postema (Defiance, Ohio) made his final HCAC Championships one for the record books, smashing the conference hammer throw record with a mark of 215-10 (65.80m), earning HCAC Most Valuable Field Performer honors and moving up to No. 3 on the all-time DIII list. He is just the fourth in DIII history to surpass 215 feet and the first since Eric Flores of Cal Lutheran set the division record of 231-01 (70.44) in 2010. Postema grew stronger on nearly each of his six throws, with only one attempt measured closer than the one preceding. After unleashing a mark of 213-1 (64.96m) on his fifth attempt, he one-upped himself with his historic heave on his final attempt. In addition to his hammer title, he moved to No. 2 in the discus with a winning mark of 184-7 (56.27m) and won the shot put with a 51-3¾ (15.64m) throw.
Marcus Smith, UW-Whitewater – Jumped 52-11 (16.13m) in the triple jump at the UW-Whitewater Drake Alternative, giving him the No. 2 mark in DIII history and the fourth-best among collegians this season. His is the best DIII jump since 1990.
German Fabela, Whitter – The freshman ran a DIII-leading 46.94 over 400 meters at the SCIAC Outdoor Championships and anchored the fastest DIII 4×100 team (40.66) and third-fastest DIII 4×400 team (3:12.15) — both of which were wins.
Division III Women
Nicole Michmerhuizen, Calvin College
Junior – Distance
Fantastic 10,000 meter races weren’t restricted to Stanford this weekend as Michmerhuizen (Holland, Mich.) ran one of Division III’s all-time best 10,000 meter races at the Hillsdale College Gina Relays, powering to a 34:09.96 — the seventh-fastest time in division history. Her torrid pace propelled her to victory by more than 10 seconds over a field with mixed DI, DII and DIII talent and to the 2013 division lead by nearly a full minute. Most remarkable is the fact that her 16:55 second half of the race would have stood alone as the fifth-best performance at 5000 meters in DIII this season, never mind the fact that she ran another 5000 meters before that point. Her time broke a 26-year-old Gina Relays record of 34:41.61 set in 1987 by Eastern Michigan’s Julie Watson; and it crushed the previous Calvin school record of 35:44.36 set in 2007 by Christina Overbeck by more than a minute and a half. Hers is the fastest DIII 10,000 meters race since Toni Wiszowaty of Plattsburgh State ran 33:57.48 at the Penn Relays in 2008.
Tiarra Goode, Birmingham-Southern – Ran the division’s fastest 200 (24.22) and the fourth-fastest 100 hurdles race (14.19) among three individual titles and a third-place 4×100 relay finish at the SAA Championships.
Michelle Favre, Ramapo – Won the pole vault at the Penn Relays against all DI competition with a vault of 13-5¼ (4.10m).
Melissa Norville, Illinois College – Finished third in the long jump (20-4½/6.20m) and fifth in the triple jump (40-7¾/12.39m) at the Drake Relays.
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.