Tiernan’s Blazing Washington Invite Win Headlines National Athlete of the Week Honors
NEW ORLEANS—Three of the NCAA cross country National Athletes of the Week won races thousands of miles from their home countries, while the other three had banner performances near their hometowns.
Five of the six awards presented Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) were on the basis of races at Paul Short, Notre Dame, or Washington.
In Division I, Villanova’s Patrick Tiernan and New Mexico’s Charlotte Arter won their respective meets; American International’s Mike Biwott and Grand Valley State’s Allyson Winchester are the Division II honorees; and Sophia Meehan of Johns Hopkins and Grant Wintheiser of St. Olaf earned Division III laurels.
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.
Sophomore | Toowoomba, Australia
Pat Tiernan of Villanova ran a blazing last 3k of 8:18 in Seattle en route to winning the inaugural Washington Invitational and earning his first National Athlete of the Week award. Tiernan and Northern Arizona Lumberjacks Futsum Zienasellassie (4th at NCAAs last fall) and Matt McElroy were together through 5000 meters before the Aussie sophomore made his decisive move, ultimately winning by 19 seconds in 22:59.8.
As a true freshman in 2013-14, Tiernan was ninth in the nation in cross country, seventh in the indoor 5k, and sixth in the outdoor 5k. He and the Wildcats return to action in two weeks at the Princeton Invitational.
Senior | Carlisle, England
Up against Notre Dame Invitational Blue 5k field of 20 teams featuring three other returning 2013 cross country All-Americans, it was Arter who came away with a decisive win in her 2014 debut. She completed the 5k course (shortened by about 150 meters due to poor conditions) in 16:09, eight seconds clear of upstart Agnes Sjostrom of SMU and 10 seconds clear of 2013 All-Americans Joanna Thompson of NC State and Katie Borchers of Ohio State. After reeling in early leader Borchers midway through the race, Arter put the pedal to the floor, quickly took command of the race and never relinquished the lead.
Arter and her Lobos return to the Great Lakes area for perhaps the regular-season meet of the year Wisconsin adidas Invitational on Friday, Oct. 17.
Junior | Kapsowar, Kenya
While Silas Too of Shorter made a compelling case for National Athlete of the Week with his win at Louisville, Biwott could not be denied after his domination of the field at Lehigh’s Paul Short Invitational positioned him as the early favorite in the DII individual national title race. The junior took down a host of DII All-American rivals, including 2013 national champion Tabor Stevens and 2012 national runner-up Kevin Batt of Adams State, and 2013 fifth-place NCAA finisher Aaron Dinzeo of California (Pa.), as well as 2013 DI All-American Sam McEntee of Villanova.
He crossed the line in 23:28, seven seconds clear of runner-up Dinzeo and another 11 seconds better than third-place Chartt Miller of Iona. Biwott took out the pace from the start, leading for essentially the entire race. He ran with Dinzeo and Batt for the first half of the race before pulling away from the duo in the race’s late stages. This is the second National Athlete of the Week Award for Biwott this season, and the fifth of his career.
Next up for Biwott’s Yellow Jackets are the New England Championships this Saturday.
Senior | Wayland, Michigan
Just one week after she dropped from preseason favorite status in Flotrack’s Saucony Flo50 Rankings to No. 10, Winchester took down the woman who replaced her at No. 1 – reigning National Athlete of the Week Samantha Rivard of Minnesota Duluth – in the Notre Dame Invitational Gold race.
Winchester finished the mixed Divisions I, II & III race third overall on the 5k course (shortened by 150 meters for course conditions) in 16:52.0, just six seconds behind race winner Maria McDaniel of Western Michigan and four seconds clear of Rivard in fourth-place.
Winchester led GVSU to a dominant team win in the race, scoring 56 points to runner-up Duquesne’s 123 and No. 4 Minnesota Duluth’s 154. The Lakers are at the Jayhawk Invitational and UW-Oshkosh Brooks Invitational the next two weeks before heading to the GLIAC Championships a month from now.
Senior | Sartell, Minnesota
For the second straight year, Grant Wintheiser of St. Olaf was the top collegian at UW-Eau Claire’s Blugold Invitational. Last year, Wintheiser lost to Eau Claire alum Aaron Easker; on Saturday, Wintheiser beat former National Athlete of the Week Hart Horner by five seconds for the overall win in 24:36.5. More importantly, he led his defending champion No. 3 Oles to a redemptive win over No. 2 UW-Eau Claire after UWEC defeated St. Olaf on St. Olaf’s home course last month.
Wintheiser has placed third at the last two DIII national championships, while the Oles are the defending team champions. They race next at Wisconsin-La Crosse in two weeks.
Junior | Havertown, Pennsylvania
Johns Hopkins’s Sophia Meehan is the Division III National Athlete of the Week for her 18th-place finish in the Gold race in Saturday Paul Short Run. Meehan would have been the No. 2 runner for Division I No. 5 Georgetown and the third runner for DI No. 6 Florida State. She was nearly 45 seconds clear of the next-best DIII finisher in Cassia Hamline of No. 3 St. Lawrence, and was 30 seconds ahead of top DII finisher Lauren Martin of Adams State.
Meehan’s 20:30 6k time is the fastest time by a DIII runner at Paul Short for at least ten years. She and the No. 1 ranked/two-time defending national titlists Blue Jays have both the UW-Oshkosh and Princeton Invitationals listed on their slate for October 18.