Distance Runners & Combined Events Dominate Indoor Division I National Athlete of the Year Awards
By Kyle Terwillegar, USTFCCCA
March 19, 2014
NEW ORLEANS – The nation’s indoor track & field coaches have voted, and the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division I Indoor Track & Field National Athletes of the Year have been determined following the NCAA Championships this past weekend.
National Track Athlete of the Year honors for the men and women, respectively, went to Oregon’s Edward Cheserek and Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino.
Winning the men’s and women’s National Field Athlete of the Year awards, respectively, were Curtis Beach of Duke and Kendell Williams of Georgia.
Cheserek (Newark, N.J.) swept both the 3000 and 5000 meters events at the NCAA Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., this past weekend – including taking the 5000 meters crown from The Bowerman Finalist Lawi Lalang of Arizona, the collegiate record holder in the event – to lead his Ducks to the national team title.
He outkicked the defending indoor mile and 3000 meter champion in the final two laps to earn the convincing win in 13:46.67 by more than six seconds over Lalang, who had been the winner of the past two indoor National Track Athlete of the Year awards. The next day he defeated Kirubel Erassa of Oklahoma State over 3000 meters with another late-race kick to win by two seconds in 8:11.59.
D’Agostino (Topsfield, Mass.) also completed the 3000 meter and 5000 meter double championship, marking the second consecutive season in which she has reigned in both events – a feat no other Division I woman has ever accomplished. She is also the back-to-back winner of the National Track Athlete of the Year award indoors, along with winning it during this past cross country season.
She won at 5000 meters by two seconds in both races, finishing in 16:20.39 over 5000 meters on Friday night and 9:14.47 over 3000 meters on Saturday night. Entering the championships, she was the collegiate leader in the mile and at both 3000 and 5000 meters.
Her 4:28.31 mile is equal to third on the all-time collegiate performers list, and her 8:51.91 at 3000 meters put her at No. 4 all-time among collegians indoors.
After a redshirted 2013 indoor season, Beach (Albuquerque, N.M.) reclaimed the heptathlon title he last won it — along with National Field Athlete of the Year honors — in 2012 with a score of 6190, outscoring runner-up Maicel Uibo of Georgia by more than 150 points. His score is the fourth-best in collegiate history, and places him third on the all-time collegiate performers list.
He recorded personal bests in the 60-meter hurdles (8.12), high jump (6-9/2.06m) and long jump (25-2/7.67m) components, and posted indoor career-bests in the pole vault (16-6¾/5.05m) and shot put (39-8¾/21.11m) events. His long jump mark ranked him No. 25 among all collegians.
Williams (Marietta, Ga.) smashed the indoor pentathlon collegiate and World Junior records with a winning score of 4635, outscoring runner-up defending champion Erica Bougard of Mississippi State – who also surpassed the old collegiate record of 4569 last year by Makeba Alcide of Arkansas – by nearly 50 points.
The previous World Junior record of 4535 by Sweden’s Carolina Kluft had stood since 2002, and she surpassed her own previous American Junior record of 4302 set earlier this year at the New Mexico Cherry and Silver Invitational.
She set personal bests in four of the five components of the NCAA Championships pentathlon, including the long jump (20-9/6.32m), the 60-meter hurdles (8.21), the high jump (6-2/1.88m) and the 800 (2:17.31).