Adverse Weather Couldn’t Stop National Athletes of the Week

By Kyle Terwillegar, USTFCCCA

October 7, 2013   

NEW ORLEANS – Neither heat nor rain at many of this past weekend’s major meets across the nation could slow down this week’s National Athletes of the Week, awarded by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Unseasonably warm temperatures at Notre Dame and Lehigh didn’t stop this week’s Division I honorees Anthony Rotich of UTEP and Abbey D’Agostino of Dartmouth. Rotich handled the heat and the nation’s deepest field at Notre Dame in stride en route to the win, while D’Agostino’s burned through the Paul Short field for a 26-second victory.

Division II men’s honoree Mike Biwott of American International earns the award for a second time this season after finishing runner-up at Paul Short, while Bellarmine’s Emily Frith took the women’s award following a ninth-place showing at the soggy Greater Louisville Classic — tops among DII competitors.

Conditions were also wet in Hanover, Ind., for Division III Pre-Nationals, but the weather couldn’t cool off St. Scholastica’s Chelsea Johnson, who won wire-to-wire for the second straight weekend for a nearly one-minute victory and her second consecutive National Athlete of the Week award. Connecticut College’s Mike LeDuc took the men’s race over a strong field featuring a former National Athlete of the Week to garner the men’s honor.

THE HONOREES

Division I  Men

Anthony Rotich

Anthony Rotich, UTEP
Sophomore | Eldoret, Kenya
School Bio | TFRRS Profile

In a Notre Dame Invitational field that featured eight of Division I’s top 30 squads — including two top-10 programs — and defending meet champion Chris O’Hare of Tulsa, it was Rotich who crossed the line first on an unseasonably hot and humid day in South Bend, Ind. The sophomore completed the 8K course in 24:18.6 to finish four seconds ahead of returning cross country All-American and 2013 indoor & outdoor 5000 meters All-American Luke Caldwell of New Mexico.

Honorable Mention:
Kennedy Kithuka, Texas Tech
James Leakos, Harvard
Aaron Nelson, Washington
Rajpaul Pannu, St. Mary’s

 

Division I Women

Abbey D'Agostino

Abbey D’Agostino, Dartmouth
Senior | Topsfield, Mass
School Bio | TFRRS Profile

Conditions were hot in Lehigh for the Paul Short Run, but that wouldn’t slow D’Agostino’s incendiary win in the women’s Gold division race. The nation’s top returning All-American and four-time NCAA track champion dominated the field, finishing the 6K course in 19:43.25 to win by 26 seconds over the next-closest finisher. Among those she defeated for her second consecutive Paul Short title were runners from No. 6 Georgetown, No. 10 Cornell, No. 12 Villanova and No. 13 Penn State. She spearheaded a Dartmouth team effort that resulted in a runner-up finish over all but Georgetown.

Honorable Mention:
Juliet Bottorff, Duke
Ann Eason, Eastern Kentucky
Grace Heymsfield, Arkansas
Kelsey Santisteban, California

 

Division II Men

Mike Biwott

Mike Biwott | American International
Sophomore | Kapsowar, Kenya
School Bio | TFRRS Profile

A National Athlete of the Week but two weeks ago, Biwott again showed he is a force to be reckoned with not only at the Division II level but at the national level with a runner-up finish at the Paul Short Run Gold division. The sophomore battled through the hot conditions to finish the 8K course in 23:25.30, 20 seconds ahead of third place and 40 seconds ahead of the next-closest DII runner, Alex Monroe of Lock Haven — the fifth-place finisher at the 2012 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships.

Honorable Mention:
Johnnie Guy, Southern Indiana
Paul Yak, Augustana (S.D.)
Matt Brooker, Cedarville

 

Division II Women

Emily Frith

Emily Frith, Bellarmine
Junior | Crab Orchard, Ky.
School Bio | TFRRS Profile

Despite muggy and soggy conditions on a difficult course at the Greater Louisville Classic, Frith raced to Bellarmine’s all-time best 5K performance with a ninth-place overall finish in the meet’s Gold Division in 17:26.72, making her the first Division II athlete to cross the line. Among those Division II schools she whose student-athletes she defeated include No. 8 Southern Indiana, No. 12 UW-Parkside, No. 14 Edinboro and No. 19 Tampa.

Honorable Mention:
Runa Falch, Augustana (S.D.)
Jessica Scordino, Mansfield
Delainey Phelps, Ashland
Hannah Witt, King

 

Division III Men

Mike LeDuc

Mike LeDuc, Connecticut College
Senior | Canton, Conn.
School Bio | TFRRS Profile

Two weeks ago, Bowdoin’s Coby Horowitz defeated LeDuc to claim that week’s National Athlete honors. This weekend, it was LeDuc who emerged victorious over Horowitz to take the honor, as the senior NCAA steeplechase champion took the individual crown at Division III Pre-Nationals in Hanover, Ind. LeDuc completed the same 8K course that will host the 2013 NCAA Championships on  November 23 in 25:22.82, outpacing Horowitz by eight seconds and defeating runners from No. 6 Bowdoin, No. 12 Wabash, No. 18 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and No. 32 Manchester.

Honorable Mention:
John Crain, North Central (Ill.)
Grant Wintheiser, St. Olaf
Andrew Padgett, Washington (Mo.)

 

Division III Women

Chelsea Johnson

Chelsea Johnson, St. Scholastica
Senior | North Branch, Minn.
School Bio | TFRRS Profile

For the second consecutive weekend, Johnson crushed  her Division III competition en route to a wire-to-wire victory and National Athlete of the Week honors, this time in the form of a decisive 46-second victory at the Division III Pre-Nationals in Hanover, Ind. The senior completed the wet 6K course in 21:25.74, well ahead of runner-up Allison Barnwell of No. 5 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and nearly a minute clear of the top runner from team champion No. 9 Trinity (Texas).

Honorable Mention:
Michaela Freeby, Willamette
Tricia Serres, Luther
Grace Tilton, RPI
Lucy Cheadle, Washington (Mo.)

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.