Olstad’s & Johnson’s DII Conference Titles Headline National Athletes of the Week
NEW ORLEANS – Dethroning defending Division II conference champions from No. 1 ranked teams or defeating former National Athletes of the Week will put anyone in strong contention for National Athlete of the Week honors; Western State’s Vegard Olstad and Ferris State’s Samantha Johnson did both this past weekend.
Olstad took down No. 1 Adams State’s former national award winner Kevin Batt and defending RMAC champion Tabor Stevens en route to claiming both the RMAC title and Division II Men’s National Athlete of the Week honors, leading his Mountaineers to a team title.
Johnson was able to conquer a GLIAC Championships field featuring defending conference champ Allyson Winchester of No. 1 Grand Valley State and former national honoree Tina Oprean of Malone.
Championship season also opened with a limited schedule in Divisions I and III.
The MEAC was one of a handful of Division I conference championships to begin this past weekend, and it produced both of Division I’s honorees in Elias Chesire of Florida A&M for the second time this season and Ashley Seymour of Morgan State.
The NYSCTC Championships produced a pair of Division III National Athletes of the Week in men’s winner Adam Pfander and women’s winner Amy Cymerman, who defeated former honorees in teammate Ariel Beccia and Ashton Villeneuve of Utica.
Division I Men
Elias Chesire, Florida A&M
Two is a theme for Chesire this week, as the junior claimed his second consecutive MEAC individual title en route to his second National Athlete of the Week honor. He won the 8K race in 25:04.0, outpacing teammate Daniel Cheriuyot by 13 seconds. As a team, Chesire’s Rattlers took the top four spots for a team total of 30 and the conference title.
Division I Women
It was a day of firsts for the Morgan State women’s cross country at the MEAC Championships, as the Lady Bears finished second — just three points behind champion Florida A&M — for the first time in program history, led by their first individual MEAC Champion: Ashley Seymour. The graduate student edged out runner-up Effiey Kosgei of FAMU by just eight-tenths of a second for the win.
Division II Men
Not only did Olstad win the RMAC individual title and lead his Mountaineer squad to its first RMAC team title since 2011, he did so against formidable competition in No. 1 defending champion Adams State and No. 4 Colorado Mines. Olstad completed the 8K course at Western New Mexico in 23:56.5 — two seconds ahead of former National Athlete of the Week Kevin Batt and ten seconds faster than defending RMAC champion Tabor Stevens, both of Adams State.
Honorable Mention: Alex Monroe, Lock Haven
Division II Women
Johnson overcame both cold, windy weather in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and runners from the Lower Peninsula’s top DII cross country program, No. 1 defending national champion Grand Valley State, to take the GLIAC individual title in 21:57.13 over the 6K course at Michigan Tech. Her victory came at the expense of runner-up 2012 GLIAC Champion Allyson Winchester of GVSU, who finished 12 seconds back. It was Winchester who held a one-second lead over Johnson after two-thirds of the race, but Johnson was able to pull away from the defending champ over the final mile.
Honorable Mention: Jennifer Agnew, U-Mary
Division III Men
Pfander kept his strong 2013 campaign going with his third win of the season at the New York State Collegiate Track Conference (NYSCTC) Cross Country Championships, taking the title over his home 8K course at Hamilton in 26:13.2. The time was the second-fastest in school history on the course, and was more than 16 seconds faster than runner-up Trevor Bibb of St. Lawrence. He has won all three races on his home course this season.
Division III Women
Cymerman won the individual title at the NYSCTC Cross Country Championships, traversing the 6K course at Hamilton in 21:54.3 en route to a five-second win and an improvement from her runner-up finish a year ago. Among those she defeated were runner-up Grace Tilton of RPI and teammate Ariel Beccia, herself a former National Athlete of the Week. After Cymerman finished runner-up at the NYSCTC meet last season, she went on to win the Liberty League and Atlantic Region titles.
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.