USTFCCCA Announces Week Two National Athletes of the Week
NEW ORLEANS – Many of the week two National Athletes of the Week are already approaching the same form they showed during their excellent 2012 campaigns, but for one honoree week two was a throwback to the last time he competed in cross country in 2011.
Nebraska senior Trevor Vidlak won the Augustana (S.D.) Twilight Invitational men’s four-mile run in 18:18.03 in his first cross country race since 2011 after missing last season due to a preseason injury — earning him this week’s men’s national honors for Division I.
No. 16 William & Mary senior Elaina Balouris earns the women’s Division I award after outkicking teammate and course-record holder Emily Stites at the Richmond Spider Alumni Open for the two-mile win and a new course record.
No. 4 Augustana (S.D.) senior Runa Falch soundly defeated a field with Division I runners on her home course to take home Division II women’s honors, while No. 7 Missouri Southern junior Eric Schott finished third overall against No. 5 Arkansas (DI) and won against Missouri in a double-dual at Arkansas to win Division II’s men’s honors.
In Division III, senior John Crain of No. 1 North Central (Ill.) is the men’s honoree after a strong debut on the same Hanover course on which he hopes to lead the Cardinals to a team title later this season, while Utica’s Ashton Villeneuve dominated the women’s field at SUNY Cobleskill en route to becoming the first woman in program history to finish a 5K race faster than 18 minutes and National women’s honors.
Division I Men
Vidlak ran his first cross country race since 2011 this past weekend, but one wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the results at the Augustana (S.D.) Twilight Invitational. Atop the results sheet was Vidlak’s 18:18.03 performance over the four-mile course for an average pace of 4:34 per mile. The Nebraska co-captain finished six seconds ahead of the next-fastest finisher and he led his Cornhuskers to a team title with 31 points.
Division I Women
Following up a 13th-place individual finish at the NCAA Championships a year ago, Balouris is right on track to match her 2012 form to start her senior campaign. She opened 2013 with a quick 10:17.5 two-mile, meet-record victory at the Richmond Spider Open, outkicking her All-American teammate Emily Stites — the former course record holder — by less than a second. The No. 16 Tribe took the team crown in a field that included five other Division I programs.
Division II Men
The first runner from a university in Missouri to cross the line at the Arkansas double dual wasn’t anyone from Division I Missouri, but rather Eric Schott of Division II Missouri Southern, ranked No. 7 in DII. Schott finished third overall against Arkansas and defeated every Tiger who competed with an impressive 20:15.3 performance over the 6.6K course. The 4:56-per-mile pace put him less than seven seconds behind two of No. 5 Arkansas’ top runners in Stanley Kebenei and Kemoy Campbell.
Division II Women
Falch, who finished eighth overall at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in 2012, opened her senior campaign with a significant statement in winning her home Augustana (S.D.) Twilight Invitational by nearly 40 seconds over a field that included multiple Division I schools. Her 16:16.77 run over three miles was quick enough to outpace runner-up Isabel Andrade of Nebraska by 40 seconds and the rest of the field by almost a minute. She led her No. 4 Vikings to a win over Division I Nebraska in the team race, and she is already showing the type of form that has made her a contender at nearly every national championship race in her career, including a 1500 meters title in 2011 and a runner-up 10,000 meters title in 2013.
Division III Men
The season may have just started, but Crain and his No. 1 North Central (Ill.) team aren’t wasting any time setting the tone for the season. Crain opened his 2013 season on the same Hanover course on which he and the Cardinals are aiming to end 2013 with a national title defense, and his 25:36.63 performance over 8K was a bold first step on that journey. Booking through the course at an average of 5:09 per mile, he took the title by nearly 15 seconds over runner-up Kris Sandlin of Franklin, while his Cardinal teammates took spots three through six to take the team crown over 12 other teams.
Division III Women
A breakout season may be in store for sophomore Villeneuve, who ran away and hid from the field at SUNY Cobleskill with a 17:55 performance over 5K to take the individual win by 70 seconds. Her performance marks the first time a Utica runner has broken the 18-minute barrier in program history, and it was the fourth-fastest in course history. At 5:46-per-mile, she led her squad to a team title defense at the Steven A Warde Invitational.
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.