NCAA & NJCAA National Athletes of the Week (Oct. 19)
NEW ORLEANS – Fast times dotted the cross country landscape this past weekend as course records and school records fell across the United States.
These runners in NCAA and NJCAA Cross Country stood out to be named the National Athletes of the Week, as released Monday afternoon by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
They are: Boise State’s Allie Ostrander (NCAA Division I Women), Tulsa’s Marc Scott (NCAA Division I Men), Benedict’s Dessie Demlew (NCAA Division II Men), Southern Indiana’s Emily Roberts (NCAA Division II Women), UW-Eau Claire’s Josh Thorson (NCAA Division III Men), St. Lawrence’s Megan Kellogg (NCAA Division III Women), Gillette College’s Festus Lagat (NJCAA Division I Men), Iowa Central’s Leanne Pompeani (NJCAA Division I Women), Suffolk CC’s Christopher Swenson (NJCAA Division III Men) and Rowan-Gloucester’s Sarah Meighan (NJCAA Division III Women).
Find out more about each of these runners by clicking their names or scrolling 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.
Senior | North Yorkshire, England
With less than a half mile to go in the race to the finish at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational seemed to be between Justyn Knight of Syracuse and Sean McGorty of Stanford. All of a sudden, it was Marc Scott’s race to lose as he unleashed a devastating kick to blow past the two All-America contenders to take the win and emerge from under the national radar.
The Englishman – who was 14th at the NCAA Championships a year ago – crossed the line in 23:35.0, less than a second ahead of Knight and just over a second clear of McGorty, two men who will also be vying for top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships on November 21. He also topped another pair of All-Americans by just less than two seconds in fourth-place Martin Hehir of Syracuse and fifth-place Malachy Schrobilgen of Wisconsin.
The win is his second in as many races this season, and he’ll look to keep his undefeated streak going at the end of the month with a defense of his American Athletic Conference crown.
Freshman | Kenai, Alaska
What do you do if you find yourself entrenched in a three-person race down the stretch with two of your athletic role models growing up?
If you’re Boise State freshman Allie Ostrander, you beat them to the finish line.
Ostrander and two NCAA track champs – Arkansas’ Dominique Scott (indoor 3K) and Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel (outdoor 10K) – broke away from the rest of the pack with 2K to go at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational. Scott fell off the pace down the stretch, so it left Ostrander to duel with Seidel.
On that day, Ostrander had more in the tank as she won the women’s championship race in a course record of 19:19.5. Ostrander shattered the previous mark set by Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino in 2013 (19:31).
This is Ostrander’s first National Athlete of the Week honor. Ostrander and the Broncos take the weekend off before traveling to the Mountain West Conference Championship on Oct. 30.
Junior | Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
It’s already conference championship season in NCAA Division II cross country, with Dessie Demlew of Benedict crowned the first men’s individual conference champ of 2015. The junior was dominant in a win at the SIAC Championships in Rock Hill, South Carolina, streaking to a one-minute, 15-second victory over Novian Middleton of Morehouse to cross the line on the 8K course in 25:38.1.
Demlew defended his conference title from a year ago, and will have the same opportunity to repeat as the South Region champ in two weekends’ time.
Sophomore | Fredericktown, Ohio
Facing down a field at the Evansville Invitational that included a number of NCAA Division I programs, Roberts scored a decisive win in the 5K race. The sophomore crossed the line in 17:28.5 to top runner-up Ann Asipan of Tennessee-Martin by 16 seconds, and the rest of the field by 40.
This is the second win of the season for Roberts, to go along with top DII honors at the Indiana Intercollegiate Championships.
Roberts and her Screaming Eagles are back in action this Saturday for the GLVC Championships at UW-Parkside.
Junior | Plymouth, Minnesota
Two weeks after making his season debut, UW-Eau Claire junior Josh Thorson toed the starting line for one of the biggest races of the Division III season yet.
Thorson and 401 of his closest friends – OK, maybe not – took part in the UW-Oshkosh AAE Invitational, which served as the Pre-National Invitational for DIII. This time Thorson had revenge on his mind as UW-Platteville’s Ian LaMere beat him on his home course two weeks prior at the Blugold Invitational.
This week Thorson wouldn’t be denied. Thorson won the individual title going away, crossing the finish line in 24:17.1, seven seconds ahead of runner-up LaMere.
It was the start of a fantastic afternoon for the top-ranked team in the nation as UW-Eau Claire went 1-3-4 and won the team title with 99 points over North Central (Ill.).
Thorson and the Blugold will be in action Friday when they host the “City Wells” Invite.
Sophomore | Queensbury, New York
If this past Saturday’s UW-Oshkosh AAE Invitational has any say in future results, St. Lawrence sophomore Megan Kellogg might be a happy camper come November.
Using a strong surge near the end of the race, Kellogg won the individual title during the women’s race. Kellogg finished in 21:11.7, five seconds ahead of the runner-up.
This was Kellogg’s sixth win of the season. To be fair, Kellogg has yet to lose.
Kellogg and the Saints race again this weekend at the NYSCTC Championships.
Freshman | Eldoret, Kenya
School record? Check.
Twenty-one second win? Check.
Second fastest time in NJCAA Cross Country this season? Check.
Gillette College freshman Festus Lagat steamrolled the field at the Inland Empire Challenge hosted by Lewis-Clark State College.
Lagat pulled away from several top NAIA runners in the final mile and captured the individual title.
The Pronghorns host the NJCAA Region IX Championships on Oct. 31.
Freshman | Canberra, Australia
Does Iowa Central freshman Leanne Pompeani do anything but win on the cross country course?
Pompeani added another first-place medal to her trophy case last weekend at the Tori Neubauer Invitational hosted by UW-La Crosse. Her winning time of 21:08.86 set a school record and won the meet by 14 seconds.
There were several ranked Division III women’s programs in the field as well as the ‘B’ team from the University of Minnesota.
Pompeani will toe the starting line again at the region meet in two weeks.
Freshman | Bellport, New York
With the NJCAA Division III Cross Country Championships just three weekends away, it’s postseason time in NJCAA DIII cross country. Christopher Swenson of Suffolk CC kicked it off the right way, as he was crowned the NJCAA XV Region Champion with a ninth-place overall finish at the St. Joseph’s College Invitational.
He crossed the line on the 8K course in 28:54.26, continuing a strong season that includes wins at the College of Staten Island and the St. Joseph’s Friends and Alumni Invitational.
Freshman | Pitman, New Jersey
With only three weekends left until the NJCAA Division III Championships, it appears Sarah Meighan is on the right trajectory to find success at Stanley Park in Westfield, Massachusetts. For the third race in a row, Meighan notched a season-best time, this time with a third-place finish in the open race at the Rowan Interregional Border Battle against mostly NCAA Division III competition.
She crossed the line in the 6K race with a time of 23:14.3 after patiently working her way through the pack as the race progressed.