Historic Championship Performances Highlight National Athlete of the Week Awards

Historic Championship Performances Highlight National Athlete of the Week Awards

NEW ORLEANS – The final weekend of conference championship season was overflowing with performances worthy of National Athlete of the Week honors, resulting in an additional two honorees this week.

Though the Arizona Wildcats did not claim either the men’s or women’s Pac-12 titles this past weekend in Los Angeles, they did sweep the DI National Athlete of the Week Awards. High jumper Brigetta Barrett earned the women’s honor by way of setting the in-season outdoor high jump record of 6-6¼ (1.99m), while male teammate Lawi Lalang continued his season of dominance with Pac-12 Championship records at 1500 and 10,000 meters.

Alaska Anchorage distance duo Ruth Keino and Susan Tanui combined for three event titles and 54 team points as the Seawolves women claimed their first GNAC outdoor title in program history, while Jerrell Hancock of Minnesota State claimed the men’s award for his four-gold performance at the NSIC championships en route to a team title.

The women’s award was also split in Division III, with Rose-Hulman’s Elizabeth Evans becoming the best outdoor high jumper in DIII history and Illinois College’s Melissa Norville claiming four individual titles and a relay win to help her team to a runner-up finish. Wartburg’s Jonas Elusme, the men’s DIII honoree, won three jumps titles at the IIAC Championships to help the Knights reclaim the title for the first time 2008.

More Info: Previous Winners

The Award Winners

Division I  Men

Lawi Lalang, Arizona

Distance – Sophomore

Lalang (Eldoret, Kenya) set a pair of Pac-12 Championship Meet records in just his second competition of the outdoor season, winning Pac-12 titles at both 1500 and 10,000 meters. After posting the top qualifying time at 1500 meters in the prelims at 3:41.87 Saturday afternoon, Lalang showed his range in dominating the 10,000 meters later that evening in his event debut, running a meet and Loker Stadium (USC) record 28:14.63 to win by nearly 42 seconds. The performance was the second-fastest in the country this season, and he took down runner-up and previous No. 2 Parker Stinson of Oregon to do it. He completed his weekend with an emphatic victory in the 1500 meter finals, running a collegiate-leading and meet record 3:38.53. He crossed the line more than three seconds ahead of runner-up Todd Wakefield of Washington State to take down the long-standing record of 3:38.7 set in 1979 by Oregon’s Rudy Chapa.

Courtesy of ArizonaWildcats.com

Honorable Mention:

Bryshon Nellum, USC – Ran a collegiate-leading 44.76 at 400 meters and a 20.23 (+1.5m/s) at 200 meters — No. 2 in the country — to set a pair of Pac-12 Championship and Loker Stadium records en route to being named Pac-12 Athlete of the Meet. The second since 1976 to win Pac-12 titles at both 200 and 400 meters in the same meet.

Isiah Young, Ole Miss – Won an SEC crown at 200 meters in a collegiate-leading 20.20 (+0.9m/s) and finished runner-up at 100 meters in 10.14 (+0.5m/s).

Damar Forbes, LSU – Beat NCAA indoor long jump champion Marquis Dendy of Florida to win an SEC crown with the top qualifying jump in the country this season at 27-4½w (8.34m, +2.3m/s). Also ran a leg of LSU’s winning 4×100 relay.

Justin Austin, Iowa – Won Big Ten individual titles at 100 meters (20.27) and 200 meters (20.86), and ran a leg of the winning 4×100 relay team.

Anthony Rotich, UTEP – Won the 1500, the 3000 steeplechase and the 5000 meters at the Conference USA Championships to score 30 points toward the Miners’ team crown.

David Verburg, George Mason – Won the IC4A/ECAC Championships 400 meters with a 45.34 in the finals and a 45.46 in the prelims, and also ran a leg of the winning 4×400 relay team.


Division I Women

Brigetta Barrett, Arizona

Senior – High Jump

Barrett (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.) put on a show of historic proportions in her Pac 12 Championships finale, becoming the best in-season collegiate  high jumper of all time with a third-attempt clearance of 6-6¼ (1.99m) to claim the Pac-12 title. The 2012 Olympic silver medalist cruised through her first seven heights without a miss, setting up an attempt at 6-6¼ that would ultimately surpass the previous outdoor record of 6-6 (1.98m) held in a tie by UCLA’s Amy Acuff (1995) and Kajsa Bergqvist of SMU (1998), along with Destinee Hooker of Texas indoors (2009). After two misses, she cleared the bar on her third and final attempt to claim the record. She then took three attempts at 6-7½ (2.02m).

Courtesy of ArizonaWildcats.com

Honorable Mention:

Kori Carter, Stanford – Defeated rival and 2012 Olympic finalist Georganne Moline of Arizona in the 400 hurdles with a winning time of 54.21, No. 2 all-time on the in-season collegiate list and good for Pac-12 meet and Loker Stadium record. Also won the 100 hurdles in 12.76 (+0.1m/s) by just 0.01, good for No. 2 in DI this season and a meet record.

Kimberlyn Duncan, LSU – Won the SEC 200 meters title in a collegiate-leading 22.35 (+1.3m/s) and won the 100 meters in 11.32 (+0.4m/s), in addition to running a leg of the runner-up 4×100 relay team, to claim high-point honors at the SEC Championships.

Phyllis Francis, Oregon – Ran a collegiate-leading 51.57 at 400 meters, good for a Pac-12 Championships record, and also finished runner-up at 200 meters in 22.77 (+1.1m/s) en route to a team championship for Oregon. Ran a leg of the Ducks’ winning 4×100 relay.

Shanieka Thomas, San Diego State – Recorded the fourth-longest in-season triple jump in collegiate history with a Mountain West-winning mark of 46-5¼ (14.15m), giving her the collegiate lead by a foot over indoor triple jump champ Andrea Geubelle of Kansas. Also won the long jump at 20-7¼w (6.28m, +3.8m/s) and ran a leg of the Aztecs’ winning 4×400 relay.

Shelby Houlihan, Arizona State – Just a sophomore, she led wire-to-wire in a 1500 win with a time of 4:14.84 to take down a field that included no fewer than five former All-American seniors. Also finished runner-up in her first-ever 5000 meter race in 16:15.85 after overtaking the former All-American Jennifer Bergman of Arizona down the stretch.

Sharika Nelvis, Arkansas State – Won four events to boost Arkansas State to a runner-up Sun Belt finish. Won the long jump with a mark of 21-0w (6.40m, +3.0m/s), the No. 10 qualifying mark in DI, along with titles at 100 and 200 meters and in the 100 hurdles.


Division II Men

Jerrell Hancock, Minnesota State

Junior – Sprints

Hancock (St. Louis, Mo.) poured in two individual titles and two winning relay legs en route to helping his team to an NSIC team championship. His winning time of 20.49 (+1.1m/s) at 200 meters was a school record, also putting him the No. 11 performer in the event in DII history. The performance makes him just the third since the turn of the century to dip under 20.50. He also claimed a title at 100 meters in 10.32w (+3.5m/s), placing him seventh among DII qualifiers. In addition to his individual efforts he ran legs of the winning 4×100 and 4×400 relays. He made up approximately 15 meters on the final leg of the 4×400 relay to edge out a photo-finish victory.

Honorable Mention:

Edward Dudley, Lake Erie – Tied a Louisville Twlight high jump record set by Indiana’s Derek Drouin with a winning clearance of 7-3¼ (2.22m), improving his standing at No. 2 in the division.


Division II Women

Susan Tanui and Ruth Keino, Alaska Anchorage

Senior – Distance

Tanui (Eldoret, Kenya) and Keino (Kapcheno, Kenya) combined to rack up 54 points between four different distance events in two days to help lead the Seawolves to their first-ever outdoor GNAC team crown. Tanui kicked off the women’s track competition Friday with a dominant win in the 3000 steeplechase in 10:41.88, defeating the runner-up by more than 20 seconds. Fewer than four hours later the pair closed the day with a one-two showing at 10,000 meters, with Keino taking the win in 36:02.00 less than a second ahead of Tanui for a total of 28 points on day one. Saturday morning saw Tanui take fourth at 1500 meters in 4:28.78 and Keino sixth in 4:33.30 for eight more team points. Keino and Tanui concluded their weekends with another one-two showing at 5000 meters in 17:35.97 and 17:37.08,respectively, for eight more points. In total the duo scored more than a third of the team’s 156 championship points.

Honorable Mention:

Elisabeth Monty, UMass Lowell – Won the 400 hurdles in 59.34 after a 58.22 in the prelims — No. 4 in DII this season — at the NEICAAA Championships, while also winning the 100 hurdles in 13.75 (+0.4m/s).

Melissa Agnew, U-Mary – Helped lead her team to an NSIC Championship with wins at 800 (2:13.98) and 1500 (4:33.77) meters.

Caitlin Stuetz, Shippensburg – Led Shippensburg to a PSAC team title with wins in the 100 hurdles (14.07q, +0.0m/s) and the 400 hurdles (1:00.81), along with a leg of the victorious 4×400 relay team, to earn overall meet MVP honors.


Division III Men

Jonas Elusme, Wartburg

Junior – Jumps

Elusme (Boynton Beach, Fla.) played a crucial role in Wartburg regaining the IIAC team crown from Central (Iowa) after four seasons, winning three jumps events for 30 total points toward the team score and Most Valuable Field Athlete honors. He edged out a victory in the long jump by less than an inch, holding on to win the competition with a mark of 23-11½ (7.30m). Later that afternoon he came back to claim the high jump with a winning clearance of 6-9 (2.06m), clinching the victory on his third attempt at the height to pull clear of two others at 6-7 (2.01m). He closed his weekend out the next day with a triple jump title after a 46-8¾w (14.24m, +3.5m/s) to win by half a foot.

Honorable Mention:

Bates 4×800 relay – The team of Nick Barron , John Stansel, Mark McCauley and James LePage dominated the NEICAAA 4×800 relay, running a 7:30.45 to defeat the field — which included DI and DII teams — by more than four seconds. It is the 25th fastest time in the country this season the best by a DIII team and second-best by a non-DI team.

Dylan Bilka, PSU-Behrend – Despite dealing with rain and wind, Bilka won the pole vault at the Allegheny Gator Invitational with a clearance of 16-6¾ (5.05m) over a field that included 2013 NCAA DIII indoor champion Zach Ferrara of Brockport State. His mark is now No. 3 in the division.


Division III Women

Elizabeth Evans, Rose-Hulman

Senior – High Jump

Evans (Bicknell, Ind.) made DIII high jump history again this weekend, becoming the first woman in division history to clear 6-0 (1.83m) during the outdoor season and just the second to do so either indoors or outdoors. She cleared her first five heights in six attempts before moving the bar up to 6-0 (1.83m). After two unsuccessful attempts, she cleared the bar on her third and final attempt to move on to the next height in a back-and forth battle with Michelle Kinsella of Louisville. She took three attempts at 6-1¼ (1.86m), but could not make the height. The mark surpasses her previous record of 5-11¼ (1.81m) that earned her National Athlete of the Week honors in early April, and ties the all-time DIII high jump mark, both indoors and outdoors, set by Nyhla Rothwell of Wilmington in 1999. She also earned the honors in late March for tying the DIII outdoor record, for a total of three times this season.


Melissa Norville, Illinois College

Senior – Sprints, Hurdles, Jumps

Norville (Batavia, Ill.) turned in four individual championships and a leg of a winning relay to help lead Illinois College to a runner-up showing at the Midwest Conference Championships, earning both Outstanding Track and Outstanding Field Performer awards in the process. She claimed the triple jump title by more than three feet with a winning mark of 40-5½ (12.33m), and also took home the long jump crown with a winning jump of 19-2½ (5.85m) to clear the field by more than a foot and a half. On the track she claimed the 100 hurdles by more than a second with a winning time of 14.05w (+2.1m/s) and the 200 meters in 24.97 (+1.4m/s). She also ran a leg of the winning 4×100 relay. This marks the first time Norville has earned the award during the outdoor season, but she earned it twice during her indoor campaign.

Honorable Mention:

Tashina McAllister, Wartburg – Won the 400 hurdles (1:02.21) and the 100 hurdles (14.46/14.43q. -0.7m/s), finished fourth at 100 meters (12.61/12.46q, -0.7m/s) and ran legs of the winning 4×100 and 4×400 relays to earn Most Valuable Track Athlete honors and help her team to an IIAC crown.

Kayla Hemann, Wartburg – Won the IIAC shot put with a DIII-leading 48-9½ (14.87m), finished runner-up in the discus (148-1/45.14m) and third in hammer (148-3/45.19m) to earn Most Valuable Field Athlete honors and help her team to an IIAC title.

Heather Gearity, Montclair State – Became the only DIII woman this season to run faster than 1:00.00 in the 400 hurdles with a 59.80 — good for a tie for 10th all-time in DIII with Rachel Boerner of Calvin in 2010 — and ran a leg of the winning 4×400 relay at the Georgian Court Last Chance.

Allison Devor, Monmouth (Ill.) – Won the shot put (44-1¼/13.44m) and the hammer (179-5/54.68m) at the Midwest Conference Championships to lead her team to a ninth-straight title, and also finished third in the discus. She earned Outstanding Field Performer honors.



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.