National Athletes of the Week Produce Fast Times and Two National Records
NEW ORLEANS— Two repeat record-breaking leapers were joined by six first-time National Athletes of the Week. The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced the honorees on Tuesday morning.
Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin won her fourth award of 2015 for breaking the women’s collegiate pole vault record for a fourth time, and fellow Texan Jeron Robinson won his third award in three years for breaking the Division II men’s high jump record by a centimeter.
Long distance runners Melissa Skiba of Cal Lutheran (DIII women) and Lydia Mato of Barton County (NJCAA women) were joined by middle distance runners Austin Becker of Buffalo State (DIII men) and Robert Murphy of Vincennes (NJCAA men).
Historically fast sprinters Clayton Vaughn of UT-Arlington (DI men) and Carly Muscaro of Merrimack (DII women) rounded out this week’s winners. There were no NJCAA DIII winners this week, as the top performers from that national championship will win their own separate awards.
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 | Sulphur Springs, Texas
Vaughn ran one of the fastest wind-legal men’s 100s in NCAA history, getting off to a very quick start and torching the field at the Sun Belt Championships in 9.93 seconds. That’s the fastest wind-legal time by a collegian this year, and tied for the fourth fastest ever. It’s the fastest since Florida State’s Ngoni Makusha ran 9.89 to win the 2011 NCAA championship. Vaughn now only trails Makusha and Ato Boldon on the Division I list, and Makusha, Boldon, and Azusa Pacific’s Davidson Ezinwa on the collegiate list.
It was a breakout performance for Vaughn, who was sixth at last year’s NCAA championships in the 100 and eighth in the 200. Just a week ago, he set a PB at 10.12 seconds; now he’s gone almost two tenths of a second faster. The senior also ran a leg on the Sun Belt-winning 4×100 meter relay and finished third in the conference in the 200.
Honorable mentions: Darrell Hill, Penn State
Junior | New Braunfels, Texas
For the fourth time this year, Payne broke the collegiate pole vault record. We went there–here’s a full breakdown of her winning 4.71m (15-5½) vault at the Southland Conference meet.
Here’s the record vault:
— SFA Athletics (@SFA_Athletics) May 9, 2015
Honorable mention: Keturah Orji, Georgia
Junior | Houston, Texas
Robinson had shared the Division II record at 2.30m (7-6½) since May 2014. No longer: he cleared 2.31m (7-7) to grab sole possession of the record and win his sixth straight Lone Star Conference high jump championship. He’s now tied atop the 2015 collegiate leaderboard with JaCorian Duffield of Texas Tech, the indoor DI national champ.
He’s also won the last two NCAA DII outdoor titles; the only blemishes on his career record are second- and third-place finishes at the last two DII indoor meets.
Watch his record jump here (go to full screen for the best view):
Honorable mention: Emmanuel Matadi, Minnesota State
Sophomore | Ashland, Massachusetts
Muscaro turned the best performance of her career at the open New England (NEICAAA) championship, winning the 400 meters in 51.83 seconds. It was only the second time in her collegiate career that she broke 53 seconds, and the first time under 52. That’s the fastest time in Division II this year and the ninth fastest among all collegians this year. Per Merrimack, that’s the second fastest time ever by a New England woman ever.
Honorable mention: Euphemia Edem, Tarleton State
Junior | Broadalbin, New York
Becker took over the DIII national lead in the 800 meters, running 1:49.74 for the win at Allegheny’s Gator Invitational. It’s been a revelatory month of May for Becker. Before May, his season best was 1:52.95 and his lifetime best was 1:51.82; in his last two races, he’s gone 1:50.98 and 1:49.74. Now he’s just one of two DIII men to have broken 1:50 in the 800 this spring.
Honorable mention: Luke Winder, North Central
Senior | Simi Valley, California
Skiba jumped from tenth to fifth on the Division III all-time 5k list when she ran 16:17.87 for the win at the Occidental Invitational. Skiba’s Cal Lutheran squad didn’t compete at indoor nationals, but she was the runner-up in the 5000 at last year’s outdoor national meet, and now has the DIII outdoor lead in the event. She’s now one of just five DIII women to have ever broken 16:20 outdoors.
Honorable mention: Laura Pumphrey, WPI
Sophomore | Warsaw, Indiana
The versatile Murphy–he ran a steeplechase last week–took second in the 800 meters at the Eastern Illinois Twilight. His time of 1:51.64 ranks him sixth in the NJCAA; he was already third on the national descending order list in the 1500, tenth in the 5000, and first in the steeple.
Sophomore | Accra, Ghana
Mato won the 3000 at the Nebraska Invitational by thirty-five seconds, running 9:31.97 for the twelfth fastest 3k by a collegian this outdoor season. (The event is somewhat infrequently run outdoors) The time broke an eighteen-year-old Barton County school record and a twenty-plus-year-old Ghanian national record.