Evans & Cuffe Surpass National Champions for National Athlete of the Week Honors
NEW ORLEANS – Bypassing an active multiple-time national champion in the all-time collegiate record book with an enormous career-best performance is a good way to thrust oneself into the discussion for National Athlete of the Week honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
And that’s exactly what both Stanford’s Aisling Cuffe and Kentucky’s Andrew Evans – Monday’s Division I women’s and men’s National Athletes of the Week, respectively – did this weekend at 5000 meters and in the discus.
USTFCCCA National Athletes of the Week
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One week after twice falling victim to last week’s National Athlete of the Week Emily Lipari at the Penn Relays, it was Cuffe’s (Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y./Cornwall Central HS) turn in the spotlight as the junior moved past two-time defending outdoor 5000 meters champion Abbey D’Agostino of Dartmouth into the No. 3 position on the all-time outdoor 5000 meters performers list with a scintillating 15:11.13 run at her home Payton Jordan Invitational Sunday night.
The performance was a career-best by more than 42 seconds and was good for sixth overall in a loaded section of 26 top-notch DI competitors and professionals. The time makes her the second-fastest American collegian in history, behind only 2009 The Bowerman winner Jenny (Barringer) Simpson of Colorado, and the fastest active collegiate woman.
Based on the historic collegiate significance and the sizeable career-best, Cuffe’s 5k edged out Payton Jordan steeplechase winner Shalaya Kipp of Colorado for the honor.
Evans (Portage, Mich./Portage Northern HS), meanwhile, won the Tennessee Challenge discus with a heave of 217-9 (66.37m) – No. 2 in the world for 2014 – to move past defending discus champion and returning The Bowerman finalist Julian Wruck of UCLA both on the 2014 and all-time performers list. The senior’s mark is more than 18 feet farther than any of his previous meets in 2014 and nearly 12 feet better than his former PR of 206-0 (62.78m) in finishing third at NCAAs last year.
While Wruck may have thrown farther last year in unofficial exhibition performances, Evans’ 217-9 bettered Wruck’s official collegiate best of 217-7 (66.32m) to jump to No. 4 on the all-time collegiate performers list with the fifth-best throw in collegiate history.
For good measure, he also tacked on another all-time top-10 throw at 216-8 (66.06m) to take the No. 9 spot. He joins Wruck and Nevada’s Kamy Keshmiri as the only three men with two all-time top-10 throws.
His 58-10 (17.93m) shot put effort to finish sixth was also a career best.
After running a season-best 400-meter hurdles race two weekends ago and a career-best 110-meter hurdles race last weekend, Ashland junior Elijha Owens (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights HS) PR’ed in both at the GLIAC Championships to claim both titles and Division II Men’s National Athlete of the Week honors.
The GLIAC Track Athlete of the Year won the 110-meter hurdles in a career-best and GLIAC-meet-record 13.96 (+0.2m/s) to improve his No. 3 national standing, and took the 400-meter hurdles race in 51.43 to move up to No. 7 nationally.
He also ran a leg of the winning 4×400 and fourth-place 4×100 relays and finished fourth at 100 meters in 10.98 to contribute 28¾ points to the Eagles runner-up team effort.
At the PSAC Championships, Tabitha Bemis of Edinboro (Fair Oaks, Pa./Quaker Valley HS) claimed three individual titles in the long jump, triple jump and 100-meter hurdles – including career bests in the latter two – to earn DII Women’s National Athlete of the Week honors.
Her triple jump win came with a career-best mark of 41-10¾w (12.77m, +2.7 m/s), as did her title in the 100-meter hurdles in 13.97w (+2.2 m/s). That mark put her at No. 4 on the national qualifying list.
She just missed her season-best long jump mark by less than two inches with a winning mark of 19-7 (5.97m), and also ran a leg of the runner-up 4×4 for a total of 32 team points as her team finished fourth with 82 points.
Division III’s National Athlete of the Week honors went to a pair of Campbells in men’s winner Luke Campbell of Salisbury (Brunswick, Md./Brunswick HS) and women’s honoree Amelia Campbell of Carleton (Sturgeon Bay, Wis./Sturgeon Bay HS).
The sophomore won the shorter of the two with a wind-legal career-best 14.13 (+0.9 m/s) in the final after a 14.05w (+2.5 m/s) in the prelims – both of which would have been good for at least a share of the national lead. He took the 400-meter hurdles crown in a season-best 52.36, and also ran a leg of the winning 4×400 relay and the third-place 4×1.
Amelia, already atop the heptathlon list for 2014 prior to this past weekend, bolstered her 2014 position and moved ever closer to the top of the all-time DIII list with a 5132 at the multi-event section of the MIAC Championships.
A great day on the track with PRs in the 100-meter hurdles and at both 200 and 800 meters boosted the sophomore to becoming just the fifth woman in DIII history to surpass the 5000-point barrier. She posted the best time or mark in six of the seven components of the competition.
This is her second career award after having won it during the 2014 indoor season.
National Athletes of the Week are announced each Monday throughout the season, with male and female awards for all three NCAA Divisions. Nominations are open to the public and can be completed here.