National Athletes of the Week Honor Historically Fast Sprints
NEW ORLEANS—Jamaicans, sprinters, and repeat winners dominated the National Athlete of the Week awards on the most explosive weekend yet of the outdoor season. The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced the awards on Tuesday.
Two historically great sprinters swept the Division I awards. Vernon Norwood of LSU and Jenna Prandini of Oregon–each competing in their home state–ran the fastest ever times in their respective events by a collegian in the month of April.
Jamaican runners Omar Johnson of Saint Augustine’s (Division II men), Adriana Wright of Lehman (DIII women), and Chrisann Gordon of South Plains (NJCAA DI women) were three of the ten winners; the honor was the second straight for Gordon and her third award of 2015.
Joining Gordon as a repeat winner was Central Missouri hammer thrower Heavin Warner, who won back in January. The DII woman was our only national record breaker this week.
The other four winners: Bijan Mazaheri of Williams (DIII men), Deron Gordon of Barton (NJCAA DI men), Jack Flood of SUNY Delhi (NJCAA DIII men) and Stephanie Boucher of Mohawk Valley (NJCAA DIII women).
Click each of the student-athletes’ names above or keep scrolling below to read about the exploits that made all ten worthy.
National Athlete of the Week is an award selected and presented by the USTFCCCA Communications Staff at the beginning of each week to ten (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions and the two NJCAA divisions) 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 | Morgan City, Louisiana
Competing on his home track–and in his first 400 since winning an indoor national championship in March–Norwood won his race at the LSU Alumni Gold meet in 44.44 seconds. That makes him the ninth-fastest collegiate in-season performer ever. It was a winning weekend for Norwood, as he also ran legs on LSU’s winning 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays.
Despite Norwood’s sterling credentials, this marks the first time that he’s won an outdoor individual event in an LSU uniform. The time is the fastest ever by a collegian in April.
Honorable mentions: Andre De Grasse, USC and Michael Lihrman, Wisconsin
RS Junior | Clovis, California
Prandini turned in a blazing fast wind-legal sprint double at Mt. SAC on Saturday. She won the 100 (10.92 seconds) and 200 (22.42) in just two hours. Her 200 was a career best and collegiate leader by a huge margin, but it was her 100 that rocked the sprint scene. Only one woman has ever run faster during the collegiate season–and Dawn Sowell did that at altitude–and only two women have run faster any time of the year. Pradini’s time is tied for the 2015 world lead, and is a full tenth of a second faster than any other collegian has gone this year.
Honorable mention: Dior Hall, USC and Raven Saunders, Southern Illinois
Junior | Jamaica
Johnson, helping his team to its eighteenth straight conference title, won the 400 in 45.78 seconds, took fourth in the 200, and ran a leg on the winning 4×400. That 400 time is ninth among all collegians this year, regardless of division. It was a huge performance from Johnson: per TFRRS, he hadn’t broken 47.00 in a St. Aug’s uniform until the Florida Relays two weeks ago. The 2015 indoor 400 runner-up now has the Division II national lead by three-quarters of a second.
Honorable mention: Jeron Robinson, Texas A&M-Kingsville and Sean Wells, Grand Valley State
Junior | St. Joseph, Missouri
One of the most appropriately named athletes in the NCAA heaved the ball and chain to break the Division II national record in the hammer in her home cage. Heavin Warner (though it is pronounced "Heaven" and not "heavin’") won the Mule Relays with a throw of 67.24 meters (220-7), which is third among all collegians this year and only two feet off of the Division I national lead. She also won the discus and shot put this weekend; Warner is the DII national leader in the discus and No. 6 on the descending order in the shot put.
She broke the thirteen-year-old DII hammer record by nearly three meters.
Honorable mention: Quanera Hayes, Livingstone and Euphemia Edem, Tarleton State
Junior | Wellesley, Massachusetts
Mazaheri slashed a minute from his 10k PR and took third in a field over nearly all Division I athletes at Princeton’s Larry Ellis Invitational. His time of 29:39.27 resides just outside of the DIII top ten all-time list, is a Williams school record, leads DIII this year by over thirty seconds, and makes him the second fastest 10k man in NESCAC history. Mazaheri, a junior two-time All-American, closed his 10k in 4:37 on Friday night.
Honorable mention: Roger Steen, UW-Eau Claire and Jamie Ruginski, Southern Maine
Sophomore | St. Elizabeth, Jamaica
Wright tore up the Division III record books all winter, and has resumed her historic assault on the all-time lists this spring. After breaking DIII national records in the 60 hurdles and 200 indoors, she put the 100 hurdles national record on notice this weekend. She won the CTC championship in 13.75 seconds into a 2.0 mps headwind, which is No. 4 on the DIII all-time list and the No. 2 wind-legal performance ever. Wright also won the 100 in 11.72 seconds (tied for No. 10 in DIII history), giving Lehman all 20 of their points at the CTC meet.
Honorable mention: Allie Hadley, Cal Lutheran and Jecel Klotz, UW-Oshkosh
Freshman | North Lauderdale, Florida
Gordon eked out a win in the 400 hurdles at Oklahoma’s John Jacobs Invitational, beating Wichita State’s Jonathan Duval by 0.01 seconds. His time of 50.90 seconds is the NJCAA leader and in the top 25 among all collegians.
Honorable mention: Albert Meier, Butler
Sophomore | Cave Valley, Jamaica
Talk about versatility. A week after winning the NAOW for her performance in the 800, Gordon won the 200 at UTEP in 23.28 seconds. That wind-legal time is the NJCAA leader and is in the top 20 on the all-college list. She’s the NJCAA indoor national champion in the 800, 600, and DMR, and the outdoor national leader in the 800 and 400 and No. 2 in the 200.
Honorable mention: Micayla Collins, New Mexico
Freshman | Blue Point, New York
Flood won the decathlon at the Cortland Classic with 6339 points, which is the best NJCAA DIII score of the year. En route to that total, his performances in the 100 hurdles (No. 2 on the descending order list) and pole vault (No. 8) marked him as a major scorer on the NJCAA DIII level.
Sophomore | New Hartford, New York
Boucher already had the NJCAA DIII national lead in the 1500 and 800; after a great double at the Cortland Classic, she’s now one of the most dominant athletes in her event anywhere in the college ranks. Her winning 1500 time of 4:42.20 is a division leader by 17 seconds, and her winning 800 time of 2:12.69 is a division leader by 9.72 seconds.