UPDATED: Mascari & Frerichs Headline Cross Country National Athlete of the Week Honorees
Update: Brian Baum of Ashland has been added as a co-National Athlete of the Week for the Division II Men’s award. The results from the Michigan State Spartan Invitational, absent from the TFRRS information used in making the selections, were unintentionally overlooked.
NEW ORLEANS—The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced Monday afternoon its National Athletes of the Week for this past weekend of college cross country action.
Five are grizzled veterans: John Mascari of Indiana State, Courtney Frerichs of UMKC, Mike Biwott of American International, Brian Baum of Ashland, Colin Cotton of Williams, and Amy Regan of Stevens have all been named All-American at least twice.
The sixth AOTW, Amanda Eisman of West Chester, is brand-new to the national scene.
Click each of the student-athletes names above or keep scrolling below to read about the exploits that made all six worthy.
National Athlete of the Week is an award selected and presented by the USTFCCCA Communications Staff at the beginning of each week to six collegiate cross country athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions).
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.
Junior | Terre Haute, Indiana
What started as a controlled 2014 debut run for Indiana State’s John Mascari through the early stages of the Country Financial Illinois State Invitational turned into a successful dash for the finish with one of the NCAA’s fastest milers. Mascari ultimately pulled away from Sam Penzenstadler – a third-place finisher in the NCAA Championships 1500 meters and winner of last weekend’s Wisconsin Badger Open – down the stretch to claim the 8k victory in 23:54, seven seconds clear of Penzenstadler.
With the win he picks up right where he left off during his breakthrough 2013 cross country campaign as an All-American and the Great Lakes Region champion. His Sycamores are back in action this weekend at the Indiana Intercollegiates before heading to Notre Dame to kick off October.
Senior | Nixa, Missouri
For winning Friday’s Forest Park Festival in St. Louis’s verdant Forest Park, UMKC’s Courtney Frerichs is the USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week. After Frerich won Friday’s 5k by 25 seconds, UMKC coach (and Butler Ratings impresario) James Butler described her as a “dark horse” on the 2014 national scene. She redshirted the 2014 outdoor season but still had a productive summer on the oval, finishing sixth in a loaded field in the steeple at USAs and fourth in the NACAC U23 steeple. In her last cross country race a year ago, she was 38th at NCAAs.
Frerich may be a Kangaroo, but with UMKC headed to the stacked Roy Griak Invitational on September 27, we’ll see just how dark of a horse she is.
Senior | Alliance, Ohio
Brian Baum kicked the weekend off on Friday with an impressive win at the Michigan State Auto Owners Spartan Invitational, taking down a field of Division I and rival GLIAC competitors. Using the same speed that made him a two-time individual track All-American and the anchor of the national champion indoor DMR in 2014, Baum crossed the line in 24:36 on the 8k course three seconds ahead of a group that included Eastern Michigan’s Willy Fink, 2013 All-American Caleb Rhynard of Michigan State and 2013 DII All-American Alan Peterson of Grand Valley State.
Ashland will be back in action the first weekend of October at the All Ohio Championships.
Junior | Kapsowar, Kenya
American International’s Mike Biwott is no stranger to being named National Athlete of the Week. His hard-charging running style earned him the award three times in 2013, and again it served him well to begin his 2014 campaign as he obliterated the field at the Franklin Pierce Bruce Kirsh Cross Country Cup. He crossed the line in 19:35.9 on the 6k course to win by more than 80 seconds over a pair of his teammates and a top-50 NCAAs finisher from a year ago in Adelphi’s Nick Filippazzo.
Biwott, last year’s fourth-place finisher at NCAAs, and his Yellowjackets are off until the beginning of October at the Lehigh Paul Short Run.
Junior | West Chester, Pennsylvania
West Chester’s Amanda Eisman is the Division II USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week for winning the Kutztown DII/DIII Challenge . Eisman, who goes to college a mile from her high school, picked up her first collegiate win in dominant fashion. In a 6k that featured DII No. 22 Stonehill, Eisman ran 22:22 to beat every other collegian in the field by 26 seconds. That time is reportedly the fastest West Chester time on the well-established Kutztown course in 11 years.
Eisman and the Rams will be keeping it in the PSAC for the rest of September; they have this weekend off before racing at Lock Haven on September 27.
Senior | Cincinnati, Ohio
Making his 2014 debut, Cotton took down the year’s best DIII field to this point with a win at the Saratoga Invitational hosted by RPI. Last year’s 22nd finisher at the NCAA Championships, he kicked off his senior season with a 10-second win over NYU’s John Lake, crossing the line in the 6K race in 18:45.5.
Though he and teammate Bijan Mazaheri finished first and third, their Williams squad ultimately finished runner-up to St. Lawrence, 39-53. The Ephs are next in action the last weekend of September hosting the Purple Valley Classic.
Junior | Green Brook, New Jersey
Facing what is likely the best DIII women’s field of the nascent season thus far, Stevens Institute’s Amy Regan won the Saratoga Invitational 5k in 17:06. For beating a field that featured DIII No. 2 Williams (missing Hannah Cole), No. 9 NYU, No. 20 St. Lawrence, and No. 22 Ithaca, Regan is the USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week.
The four-time All-American was sixth at cross country nationals last fall and sixth in the outdoor 5k in May; in our season preview, we noted that Regan’s time from that meet would have won every DIII 5k championship that didn’t feature Christy Cazzola, Missy Buttry, or Tori Neubauer. Regan and the Ducks return to action on Saturday at the Richard Stockton Invitational.