Hollander, Lord, Oneda & Padgett Earn Inaugural XC National Athlete of the Week Awards
NEW ORLEANS – Week one of the 2013 collegiate cross country season — for Division I and III at least — is in the books and a handful of the nation’s top runners didn’t waste any time putting together strong opening performances to earn the first U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athlete of the Week honors for cross country.
Sophomore standout women figured prominently into the opening weekend of the 2013 with National Athlete of the Week-winning performances from Cal Poly’s Laura Hollander and Johns Hopkins’ Hannah Oneda for Divisions I and III, respectively.
On the men’s side, upperclassmen who notched home-meet victories swept the awards; Georgia senior Brandon Lord won the 8K Georgia Invitational en route to earning this week’s men’s Division I national honors, while junior Drew Padgett of Washington (Mo.) claimed the 6K Gabby Reuebni Early Bird to take the Division III award.
Division II awards will begin next week following the official start of its season this coming weekend. Next week’s awards will be announced Monday.
Division I Men
For the second year in a row, Lord opens his campaign with a victory on his home course at the Georgia Invitational in one of the few 8K races held around the country on opening weekend. Through the sweltering heat and humidity of Georgia in August, Lord claimed the race in 25:49.17 to improve upon his winning time in 2012 by nearly half a minute. Lord and the Bulldogs sit just outside the preseason top 30 in the National Coaches Poll, as the top of the list of teams that "also received votes."
Division I Women
Hollander finished 2012 as the top freshman and one of the overall best runners in the country with a ninth-place national finish, and her 2013 opener is a big step toward warding off any fear of a sophomore slump. She blazed to an individual win at the UC Santa Barbara Lagoon Open in a course-record 16:36.00 over the 5K trail to win by nearly a minute, along the way bettering by six seconds the previous all-time best mark set by — who else? — Hollander during her breakout 2012 campaign.
Division III Men
Padgett’s 2013 debut was one for the history books, as the junior ran the fastest-ever time on Washington (Mo.)’s 6K home course with a win in 19:10 at the Gabby Reuveni Early Bird, breaking the previous record by nearly four seconds. Padgett led a sweep of the top three positions for No. 4 Wash U, giving the Bears the team title over a field of 10 teams including runner-up Southeast Missouri State of Division I.
Division III Women
After a 10th-place NCAA finish in her first year of collegiate competition in 2012, Oneda appears to have picked back up exactly where she concluded last season. In her first race of 2013, Oneda took the individual title at the 6K Salisbury Sea Gull Opener in 21:54.89 to lead defending champion and preseason No. 1 Johns Hopkins to the team title. Oneda overtook the lead from eventual runner-up Megan Borz of No. 27 Rowan in the late stages of the race and never looked back, riding a strong kick to an eight-second victory.
About the 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 beginning with the 2013 indoor season, 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.