Veteran Group Earns College XC National Athlete of the Week Honors
NEW ORLEANS – It was a weekend of dominant performances, thrilling victories, meet records and more from a veteran group of collegiate cross country National Athletes of the Week announced Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Of the six honorees, four are no strangers to the National Athlete of the Week program, having won at least once since the beginning of the last cross country season. Dominique Scott of Arkansas (Division I women), Emily Frith of Bellarmine (Division II women), and Drew Padgett and Lucy Cheadle of Washington (Mo.) (Division III men and women, respectively) proved once again the talent that netted them national honors in the past.
The other two? They’ve got some cache of their own as former national champions at the NJCAA and Division II levels: Robert Allen of UMass Lowell (Division I men) and Brayden Burleigh of Shippensburg (Division II men), respectively.
See what each of them did this weekend by clicking their names above or by continuing to read on below.
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 | Cranston, Rhode Island
For the first time ever, a runner from UMass Lowell is the NCAA Division I National Athlete of the Week. Senior River Hawk Robert Allen earned that distinction by beating a national-class pack at Iona’s Brother Doyle Meet of Champions. Allen covered Van Cortlandt Park’s notoriously difficult 8k circuit in 25:32, three seconds ahead of a pack of Arkansas harriers that included NCAA steeple runner-up Stanley Kebenei.
Both Allen and his team are on their newest and biggest stages ever. Allen spent 2.5 years racking up NJCAA titles for the Community College of Rhode Island before joining the River Hawks last January. That move paid off quickly as Allen ran 4:00.35 in the mile indoors; after decades in DII, Lowell now hopes their move to Division I this fall goes nearly as well.
Junior | Capetown, South Africa
Another weekend, another race, another meet record for Arkansas’ Dominique Scott. After opening her season with a dominant 17:12.5 win at the 5k UC Irvine adidas Invitational, she came back this weekend with a resounding 26-second win at the Missouri Southern Stampede in a career-best 16:32.78. Teammate Shannon Klenke was the only runner within half a minute of Scott, who defeated runners from Tulsa and Oklahoma.
This is the first National Cross Country Athlete of the Week award for Scott, who previously earned national honor during the 2014 indoor track & field season.
Up next for Scott and the Razorbacks is their home Chile Pepper Invitational on October 4.
Senior | Midlothian, Virginia
Racing the “short” portion of Dickinson’s Long-Short Invitational, Shippensburg’s Brayden Burleigh won the 4k to earn his first NCAA Division II National Athlete of the Week honor. After edging out two runners from Atlantic Region rival No. 12 Lock Haven in 11:53, Burleigh has now broken the Dickinson short course record two years in a row. In 2014 (his first year at Ship after transferring from Virginia Tech) Burleigh was the DII indoor national champion in the mile.
Burleigh and the rest of the No. 9 Raiders will be sticking with the "Short" theme, returning to action on Saturday, October 4 at Lehigh’s Paul Short Invitational.
Senior | Crab Orchard, Kentucky
As far as season debuts go, Emily Frith’s went about as well as possible. Back on the trails for the first time since an injury derailed what would most likely have been an All-America 2013 season, Frith challenged the top Division I women at the National Catholic Cross Country Invitational at Notre Dame before ultimately finishing fourth overall of nearly 300 runners. She covered the 5k course at Notre Dame in 17:36.2, finishing behind only a pair of runners from Notre Dame and another from Division I Marquette. The next-closest DII woman crossed the line about 15 seconds after Frith.
This is the second such award for Frith in her career, as she also claimed it following the Greater Louisville Classic in 2013.
Speaking of, Frith and her Knights will head to the Greater Louisville Invitational on October 4 to mix it up with the Division I women again, along with top teams from both Divisions II and III.
Senior | St. Louis, Missouri
For winning Wheaton’s Gil Dodds Invitational—a meet that featured No. 5 Central (Iowa) and No. 20 Chicago—Drew Padgett of Washington (Mo.) is the NCAA Division III National Athlete of the Week. The noted anti-gluten activist beat runner-up Jacob Phillips and the rest of a loaded field by 32 seconds, announcing that, as WashU coach Jeff Stiles put it, he “will be a force to be reckoned with in November.”
He was only 25th last November, but clearly is ready for bigger and better things after top-four finishes at outdoor nationals in the 5k and 10k. Padgett and the rest of the Bears are off this weekend before racing at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Saturday, October 4.
Senior | Seattle, Washington
There are blowout wins, and then there’s what Lucy Cheadle did to the field at the Wheaton (Ill.) Gil Dodds Invitational this weekend. The senior is already in career form as she crossed the line on the 6k course in 21:03, far closer to her lifetime best over the distance – two seconds shy – than to the rest of the field, which was nearly a full minute back. Leading that chase pack? A pair of women from No. 6 Oberlin.
Only Lindsay Neal of Oberlin finished within a minute of Cheadle, and only 15 more among the 212-woman field finished within two minutes of her. All this adds up to the first National Cross Country Athlete of the Week honor of her career, and the second national plaudit overall including a 2014 outdoor track & field award.
Up next for Cheadle and the Bears is the SIUE John Flamer Invite on October 4.