NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week Set Collegiate Records
NEW ORLEANS — Collegiate records? Check.
Nation-leading marks and times? You bet.
This week’s batch of National Athletes of the Week, as released Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), made quick work of the competition this past weekend.
- NCAA Division I Men — Christian Coleman, Tennessee
- NCAA Division I Women — Raven Saunders, Mississippi
- NCAA Division II Men — Oliver Aitchison, Adams State
- NCAA Division II Women — Joyce Chelimo, Alaska Anchorage
- NCAA Division III Men — Charlie Marquardt, Haverford
- NCAA Division III Women — Marisa Turner, St. Lawrence
- NJCAA Men — DeVante Lacy, South Plains College
- NJCAA Women — Leanne Pompeani, Iowa Central CC
Find out more about each of these athletes 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 eight collegiate indoor track & field athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions and the NJCAA).
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.
Sophomore | Sprints
One week after leaving his mark at the Doc Hale Virginia Tech Elite — read: running a national-lead-tying time in the 60 (6.54) — Christian Coleman turned his attention to the Tyson Invitational.
Coleman competed in the seeded sections of both the 60 and 200 in Fayetteville — and ran away with two wins.
It was in the 60 where Coleman clocked a 6.55 in the finals, unseating defending NCAA champ Ronnie Baker of TCU as well as several other standouts (Arkansas’ Kenzo Cotton and Clemson’s Tevin Hester, among others).
Then in the 200, Coleman uncorked a 20.59 (fourth nationally) and beat then-national leader Nethaneel Mitchell Blake of LSU.
Sophomore | Throws
Charleston, South Carolina
There was no shortage of historic performances this weekend by women around the land in Division I, but no athlete stood out more than shot putter Raven Saunders. The sophomore continued her onslaught of the all-time lists with a new collegiate record 19.23m (63-1¼) on her fifth throw at the Iowa State Classic on Saturday, handily defeating 2015 NCAA outdoor runner-up Kelsey Card of Wisconsin.
That mark surpassed by one centimeter the former all-time standard of 19.22m (63-¾) set by Oklahoma’s Tia Brooks at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships. It moved her up to No. 5 on the all-time U.S. Indoor performers list.
Additionally, she launched a heave of 19.02m (62-5) on her third attempt to become the first collegiate woman to twice break the 19-meter barrier in the same competition. Overall in 2016 she owns the 14 farthest throws of the collegiate season.
Redshirt Junior | Distance
It was quite a weekend for Adams State distance running as Aitchison took the DII lead in the mile and teammate Sydney Gidabuday claimed the DII 5000-meter lead, both at the Washington Husky Classic. Aitchison’s performance, a 3:58.59 clocking for fifth-place in the invitational section of the mile, was particularly noteworthy.
In DII history, only Kip Cheruiyot of Mount St. Mary’s in 1986 and 1987 has run faster in the mile, taking into account all track sizes. In total, he became just the fourth man in Division II to ever eclipse the four-minute barrier.
Senior | Distance
No one in Division II this year has run faster than Joyce Chelimo did over 3000 meters this weekend at Washington, and few other DII women ever have gone faster. The Alaska Anchorage senior won her section of the 3000 at the Husky Classic in 9:17.97, good for the 31st-fastest time of the day in a field of nearly 80 women primarily made up of DI and professional runners.
That time is more than six seconds faster than Emily Oren of Hillsdale atop the 2016 DII leaderboard, and trails only Amy Harper and Gladee Prieur of the dominant 1980s Cal Poly San Luis Obispo squads and Oren on the all-time list, regardless of track size.
In addition to her individual efforts, she ran away from the field in the anchor leg of Alaska Anchorage’s winning distance medley relay. As a result, the Seawolves ran 11:39.44 for the No. 3 spot on the TFRRS qualifying list.
Senior | Distance
What Haverford senior Charlie Marquardt has accomplished the past two weeks has been nothing short of remarkable.
Two weeks ago at the Villanova Invitational, Marquardt clipped off an 8:06.56 in the 3000. That proved to be the fourth fastest time in NCAA Division III history.
Then this past weekend, Marquardt inched closer to the exclusive sub-4 club in the mile. Marquardt crossed the finish line at the Fastrack National Invite in 4:02.24, which was the fifth fastest time in DIII history.
Senior | Sprints & Jumps
Pennellville, New York
St. Lawrence senior Marisa Turner was entered in five events this past weekend at the Liberty League Championships — four individual, one relay.
Turner came away with five championships — four individual, one relay — and set four conference records in the process — three individual, one relay — en route to being named the meet’s top athlete and scoring a ridiculous 42.5 points.
Individually, Turner won the 200, 400, high jump and long jump. Turner set records in the 200, 400 and high jump and is in the top-10 nationally in those events.
She also competed as a member of the Saints’ 4×400 team. Turner anchored them to a time of 4:08.20, which broke the conference record by the slimmest of margins.
Sophomore | Sprints
Six NJCAA athletes competed in the unseeded section of the 400 at the Tyson Invitational along with several heavy hitters from the NCAA Division I ranks.
You don’t have to look too far to find the top-finishing NJCAA athlete — South Plains College sophomore DeVante Lacy is right at the top.
Lacy notched an impressive win thanks to his time of 46.61. That time also stands as the best mark in the nation at the NJCAA level, besting former National Athlete of the Week honoree Jaymes Dennison by more than one second.
Freshman | Distance
There’s breaking a record.
Then there’s doing what Iowa Central freshman Leanne Pompeani did this past weekend at the Iowa State Classic.
Pompeani’s time of 16:42.07 in the 5000 broke the previous NJCAA record — which stood for nine years — by 14 seconds. Rend Lake CC’s Pasca Cheruitot owned the record (16:56.46) since February 16, 2007.
In Ames, Iowa, Pompeani competed in the seeded section of the 5000 and ran against 23 athletes from the NCAA Division I ranks.