Pair of Seniors Make the Most of Final Season Openers to Headline National Athletes of the Week
NEW ORLEANS – A pair of seniors made the final season debuts of their respective careers memorable, as they are among this week’s U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Athlete of the Week honorees.
Juliet Bottorff of Duke and Coby Horowitz of Bowdoin turned in strong performances in the final season-openers of their careers to earn Division I women’s and Division III men’s national honors, respectively.
Bottorff blew away a field with ACC foes at the NC State Adidas XC Challenge, running the 5K course in 16:28.81 to win by nearly half a minute and lead the No. 4 Blue Devils to a team victory.
Farther up the Atlantic coast in Maine, Horowitz tracked down and overtook a field loaded with top-tier teams and individuals to claim the individual crown at the 8K Southern Maine Invitational by one second in 25:11.51.
Stanley Kebenei of Arkansas dominated the field at the Missouri Southern Stampede to earn the Division I men’s honor, completing the 8K course in 23:25.75 to win by nearly half a minute.
Mike Biwott of American International dominated at Iona’s Br. Doyle Meet of Champions to take home the Division II national men’s honor. The sophomore finished the 8K course in 25:02.29, nearly 30 seconds clear of a field that included a number of 2012 NCAA Division I Championships finishers from nationally ranked host Iona.
Division II’s women’s honor went to Metro State’s Janelle Lincks, who led her squad to a team title at the Colorado College Invitational over a unit from No. 2 Adams State that featured members of its 2012 NCAA Championships lineup.
Freshman Noelle Olson of St. Olaf was exceptional at her program’s home invitational, breaking a four-year-old meet record with a 21:34.4 in her first-ever collegiate 6K race against a ranked team from Division II and two more from Division III.
Division I Men
In his first cross country season with Arkansas, Kebenei has become an instant contributor. He has won both races in which he has competed, including a 23:25.75 victory over 8K at the Missouri Southern Stampede this past weekend. His 4:48 per-mile clip put him 28 seconds ahead of runner-up teammate Joseph Raymond and nearly a minute clear of the first runner from Oklahoma.
Division I Women
Bottorff didn’t disappoint in the much-anticipated 2013 debut for the No. 4 Blue Devils, as she stormed through the 5K Adidas XC Challenge course at NC State in 16:28.81 for a win of nearly 30 seconds. Her per-mile clip of 5:18 propelled her to a 27-second win over 2013 Outdoor 10,000 meters All-American Joanna Thompson of No. 21 NC State, to a 46-second margin over third place. Behind her strong opener, the Duke women cruised to the team title with 24 points to NC State’s 38.
Division II Men
Biwott ran away from a field featuring top runners from No. 13 Iona of Division I and a slew of other DI squads at Iona’s Br. Doyle Meet of Champions to claim the overall 8K title in 25:02.29 by more than 30 seconds. Cruising through the 8K course at an average pace of 5:02 per mile, Biwott’s closest competition came from Iona’s Kieran Clements in 25:32.01. He defeated all of team champion Iona’s runners, including several who made up the Gaels’ NCAA Championships contingent in 2012. The win is the second in as many weekends for Biwott.
Division II Women
At No. 9 in the National Coaches Poll, Metro State is riding high at an all-time program-best ranking, led by the efforts of Janelle Lincks. The sophomore was the commanding collegiate winner at the Colorado College Invitational 6K in 22:34 to lead her squad to a two-point team victory, 37-39, over the delegation from No. 2 Adams State, which featured several of its top runners and members of its 2012 NCAA Championships team. Teammate Amy Johnston was runner-up to Lincks, but was nearly 40 seconds back, while the nearest Adams State runner came through nearly 50 seconds behind This performance comes two weeks after she finished third overall and first among DII runners at the Colorado State Open.
Division III Men
Horowitz was the come-from-behind winner over a field at the Southern Maine Invitational with four top-35 teams, taking the 8K race in 25:11.51 by just one second after chasing down Bates’ Mike Martin in a battle on the 200-meter homestretch. Not only did he have to overtake Martin on a late charge, he also had to earlier in the race chase down 2012 NCAA DIII XC Championships fifth-place finisher Tully Hannan of Bates and 2013 DIII 3000 steeplechase champion Michael LeDuc of Connecticut College after a fast start.
Division III Women
Not only is first-year runner Noelle Olson of St. Olaf off to a strong start to her collegiate career, she’s off to a historically good start. In winning the St. Olaf Invitational 6K this weekend in 21:34.4 in her first race at the distance, she smashed by 14 seconds the existing course record set in 2009 and won the meet, also by 14 seconds, over a field that included three ranked teams from Division III — including St. Olaf — and No. 16 Minnesota-Duluth of Division II. Her time is the third-fastest 6K time in program history, which follows on the heels of her school-record 4K (14:26) and a 5K (17:38) ranked No. 2 in program history.
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.