Field Event Athletes Sweep Final Regular Season National Athletes of the Week
NEW ORLEANS—Field events made a clean sweep of the National Athlete of the Week honors for the final weekend before conference championships kick off this weekend. Michael Lihrman of Wisconsin and Eldred Henry of Central Arizona broke divisional records in their respective throwing events. And Lihrman and Missouri’s Kearsten Peoples ended the pole vault hegemony over the award this year. (A vaulter had won the award for DI every week in 2015)
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced the winners on Tuesday morning. The other five field-eventers honored were: Taylor Miller of Findlay; Alexandra Kitz of Grand Valley State; Steven Vazquez of Rhode Island College; Melanie Brickner of UW-Oshkosh; and
Morgan Hartsell of South Plains.
Click each of the student-athletes’ names above or keep scrolling below to read about the exploits that made all eight worthy.
National Athlete of the Week is an award selected and presented by the USTFCCCA Communications Staff at the beginning of each week to eight (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions, plus the NJCAA) collegiate track & field athletes.
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.
Senior | Rice Lake, Wisconsin
For the second time this winter, Lihrman broke the Division I record in the weight throw. He actually did so four times on Friday, competing in his home cage at the Red & White Open. The senior’s best throw of the day was a whopping 24.91m (81-8.75), bringing him within 17 centimeters of Kibwe Johnson’s collegiate record.
Lihrman now has seven of the ten best marks in college history, and all seven came in Madison. He’ll face off with fellow all-timer Chukwuebuka Enekwechi of Purdue at the Big Ten championship this weekend.
Honorable mention: Dylan Capwell, Monmouth
Senior | Ottawa, Kansas
Before Friday, Peoples had only slung the weight over 22 meters one time, winning the Armory Invitational with a respectable 22.15m three weeks ago. Competing at her home meet–the Missouri Collegiate Challenge–on Friday, she uncorked a massive bomb off 22.84m (74-11.25). That was good enough for a win, the collegiate lead, and the No. 7 performer in NCAA history.
Peoples also won the shot put on Friday; she finished third in that event at the outdoor NCAA championships last June. With her huge improvement in the weight, she’s a threat for major, major points at national meets this year.
Honorable mention: Sabrina Southerland, Georgetown
Senior | Waynesfield, Ohio
Miller threw at two meets in two days this weekend, and he made it count on his sixth throw of the weekend. Competing at Ohio State on Friday, he launched the shot 18.45m (60-6.5) for second place. (Miller actually threw the shot just one centimeter shorter than his mark in the weight throw on Friday) That’s good for a new Division II national lead in the shot put by 66 centimeters–about two feet.
Next week’s GLIAC championships promise outstanding throwing performances. The conference has three of the top four (and eight out of the top twelve) shot put men in DII, and the top four in the weight throw.
Honorable mention: Brady Land, Nebraska-Kearney
Junior | Livonia, Michigan
Kitz skied to a huge personal best of of 3.96m (12-11.75) –15 centimeters higher than her old one–to win the pole vault at the GVSU Tune Up on her home runway on Friday. The Grand Valley State Laker takes over the No. 2 spot on the Division II descending order list.
Kitz has never been an All-American or conference champion. But her 3.96m jump would have been top five at each of the last three indoor national championships.
Honorable mention: Academy of Art 4×400
Junior | Central Falls, Rhode Island
Vazquez won the New England Division III title in the high jump and cleared the best height by a DIII athlete in the last eight years. His winning leap of 2.16m (7-1) ties him for the tenth best performer in DIII history. He almost didn’t come close to getting a chance: after passing the first three heights, Vazquez missed his first two tries at 1.98 meters.
The junior didn’t qualify for indoor nationals last year, but is the top returner from outdoor nationals. He’s the national leader by a centimeter.
Honorable mention: Sean Donnelly, Mount Union
Senior | Marathon, Wisconsin
Kudos to Brickner for overcoming the adversity of the name of her hometown. She ignored the siren song of long distance running to become one of the best weight throwers in Division III history. On Saturday, she moved a little further up the all-time list with a winning throw of 19.28m (63-3.25) out of her home cage.
Brickner is the sixth best weight throw performer in DIII history. But she’s only the fourth best thrower in Oshkosh history; the Titans have five of the top ten all-time performers. She’s thrown 38 centimeters farther than anyone else in Division III this winter.
Honorable mention: Amanda White, RIT
Freshman | Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Henry broke the NJCAA shot put record and launched the fifth farthest throw of the winter among all collegiate athletes, including the NAIA, NJCAA, and the entire NCAA. Competing on Saturday at Glendale Community College, Henry threw the shot 20.00m (65-7.5) for a huge win. No one in the NJCAA has thrown within two meters of that mark this winter.
Honorable mention: Angelo Goss, Coffeyville
Freshman | Lubbock, Texas
Hartsell expanded her NJCAA national lead in the pole vault, clearing 3.82m (12-6.25) to grab second at the Texas Tech Raider Open on Friday. She missed on her first attempt at all four heights en route to her season best and divisional leader.
Honorable mention: Vanessa Style, Barton