Third Batch of National Athletes of the Week for 2015-16 Indoor Season
NEW ORLEANS — The first big weekend of the indoor track & field season is in the books and student-athletes from across the nation turned in strong marks across the board.
Here are those student-athletes that stood out among the rest and were named National Athletes of the Week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Tuesday: Southeastern Louisiana’s Steven Barze (NCAA Division I Men), Kansas State’s Akela Jones (NCAA Division I Women), Minnesota State’s Jeff DeCock (NCAA Division II Men), Claflin’s Trisana Fairweather (NCAA Division II Women), St. John Fisher’s Kyle Koehler (NCAA Division III Men), Johns Hopkins’ Jordan Delane (NCAA Division III Women), Meridian CC’s Kendrick Smith (NJCAA Men), Monroe College’s Susan Ejore (NJCAA 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 indoor track & field 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.
Junior | Ponchatoula, La.
The National Descending Order List in Division I and the Southeastern Louisiana record book were no match for Steven Barze this past weekend. Barze, a junior, shattered the Lions’ two-decade-old school record in the long jump by eight inches and soared to the top of the NDOL in the event with his leap of 26-0 (7.92m).
Senior | St. Michael, Barbados
Kansas State senior Akela Jones put on a show at the Kansas State Wildcat Invite this past weekend. Jones posted national-best marks in the high jump (6-1.5, 1.87m) and 60 hurdles (8.17) en route to a pair of first-place finishes. Her mark in the high jump was Jones’ indoor best and that 8.17 in the hurdles fell just shy of her career best there.
Freshman | Jumps
In Jeff DeCock’s final year of high school track & field, he cleared 6-5 in the high jump – one of six boys to do so – at the Minnesota State High School League Class A State title to finish one inch from the win. He went on to pursue a basketball career at Iowa Lakes Community College (a school without track & field) the next two years, but he’s back in the T&F world in a big way.
In his first meet as a Minnesota State Maverick high jumper, he cleared 2.16m (7-1) in a tiebreak loss to Iowa Central CC’s Jah-Nhai Perinchief at the Minnesota State Alumni Open. For reference, only three NCAA DII men jumped higher during the entire indoor season a year ago.
Sophomore | Sprints
Hope Bay Port Antonio, Jamaica
Fairweather ended her freshman campaign on a high note with fourth- and fifth-place finishes at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships at 100 and 200 meters. Her 2016 campaign has picked up right where she left off.
Against a mostly NCAA Division I field at South Carolina this weekend, she ran a career-best 6.86 to win at 55 meters. That equates to 7.39 over 60 meters for qualifying purposes – good enough for the No. 1 spot on the descending order list. She beat Gabby Gray of South Carolina by nearly a tenth of a second.
Senior | Pulaski, N.Y.
Progression has been the name of the game for Kyle Koehler since he joined the St. John Fisher track & field team. At the Cornell Southern Tier Collegiate Open this past Friday, Koehler delivered his best heave in the shot put yet. Koehler’s throw of 52-8.25 (16.06m) was good enough for fourth at the meet and put him second on the National Descending Order List in Division III.
Senior | Rye, N.Y.
What does a 38-second personal best get you these days? Try a National Athlete of the Week honor in Division III. This past weekend at the Father Diamond Meet, Johns Hopkins senior Jordan Delane ran 10:09.88 in the 3000, which put her second on the Division III National Descending Order List. Delane missed the top time (10:09.14) by less than one second.
Sophomore | Sprints
It’s shaping up to be a fast year in the collegiate short sprints, and a name to keep an eye on in 2016 will be Meridian CC’s Kendrick Smith. The reigning NJCAA DI outdoor 100 meters champ has already run 6.66 over 60 meters indoors in ’16 with a win at the LSU Purple Tiger meet this past weekend – good enough for the top of the NJCAA leaderboard and No. 5 on the all-college list.
Smith – a future Alabama sprinter who has a PR of 6.62 – topped teammate Chris Lewis (6.69) and Hinds CC’s Keitavious Walter (6.70) in an exceptionally close race. Lewis was the NJCAA runner-up in this event indoors a year ago.
Freshman | Distance
After finishing third in November’s NJCAA Cross Country Championships, Ejore has translated that momentum to the track. In her collegiate track debut, she took the win over 1000 meters at the Villanova Open in 2:53.98 by nearly two seconds over Nova’s Kaleigh Hughes.
The performance moved her atop the NJCAA leaderboard by nearly 10 seconds, and pushed her to No. 12 on the all-college descending order list for the 2015-16 season.