First National Athletes of the Week For 2016 Outdoor Season
NEW ORLEANS — Spring has sprung and so has outdoor track & field.
Athletes from around the nation have started their seasons and with that, we have our first batch of National Athletes of the Week.
Click their names — or scroll below — to find out more about their performances.
- NCAA Division I Men — Sam Mattis, Pennsylvania
- NCAA Division I Women — Maggie Malone, Texas A&M
- NCAA Division II Men — Myles Hunter, Minnesota State
- NCAA Division II Women — Nikia Squire, Queens (N.C.)
- NCAA Division III Men — Manni Egbujor, Augsburg
- NCAA Division III Women — Tyra Abraham, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps
- NJCAA Division I Men — Ruebin Walters, Central Arizona
- NJCAA Division I Women — Marleena Eubanks, Central Arizona
- NJCAA Division III Men — Kendall Belser, Howard CC
- NJCAA Division III Women — Amani Jones, Howard CC
National Athlete of the Week is an award selected and presented by the USTFCCCA Communications Staff at the beginning of each week to 10 collegiate outdoor track & field athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions and both NJCAA 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 | Throws
East Brunswick, New Jersey
Welcome "home," Sam Mattis.
This past weekend at the Pennsylvania College Classic, the defending NCAA discus champ unleashed a monster throw in that same event. Mattis hurled the discus 67.45m (221-3), which moved him up to second on the all-time collegiate chart behind former SMU standout Hannes Hopley. For Mattis to top Hopley’s record the New Jersey native would need to throw better than 67.66m (221-11).
After a near five-meter personal best, the sky could very well be the limit for Mattis. And he didn’t stop with just that historic throw, which came on his first attempt. He became the first collegian in history to surpass the 67-meter barrier twice in the same complete track & field meet with a 67.21m (220-6) on his final attempt – the third-best throw in college history – and also heaved 66.51m (218-2) for the seventh-best throw in college history.
(Note: The USTFCCCA does not recognize Julian Wruck of UCLA as the collegiate record holder since his marks came in an exhibition meet at the Claremont Throws Invitational and did not come during a complete track & field meet. Additionally, that meet gave athletes as many as nine throws.)
Senior | Throws
Among all of the huge marks from one of the first weekends of the outdoor season, Texas A&M senior Maggie Malone’s throw in the javelin at the Baldy Castillo Invitational stood out the most.
Malone’s heave of 60.36m (198-0) leads all collegians by more than 15 feet and put her third on the all-time chart behind Irina Kharum (2003) and Kara Patterson (2008). The collegiate record, owned by Kharum, is four feet, 10 inches away.
Before her majestic throw, Malone’s previous personal best was 181-8, set in 2014.
Junior | Hurdles
Days after Myles Hunter made history as the fastest-ever indoor 60-meter hurdler in NCAA DII to become the first NCAA DII man to appear on the Watch List for The Bowerman Trophy (collegiate track & field’s highest individual honor), he showed he might have some more history in store outdoors.
He opened his spring campaign with a career-best 13.70 (-0.4m/s) to win the Arizona State Baldy Castillo Invitational, missing the all-time DII top-10 list by just .04. After his historic 7.53 in the 60-meter hurdles to finish the indoor season as the top collegian in the country, he only needed this one outdoor race to lower his 110 hurdles career-best by more than a quarter of a second from 13.96 two seasons ago.
Senior | Sprints
Columbia, South Carolina
Just one weekend after claiming the indoor 60-meter national title, Nikia Squire already has a signature win under her belt to kick off her outdoor campaign. Squire ran a wind-aided 11.36 (+3.5m/s) at the Charlotte 49er Classic for the top qualifying time in the country thus far, taking down Claflin’s Trisana Fairweather by more than a tenth of a second in the process. Fairweather finished fifth in the NCAA DII Championships 60 meters final in Pittsburg, Kansas, two weekends ago.
To prove her windy mark was no fluke, she ran a wind-legal career-best 11.52 (+1.3m/s) in the prelims, faster than she had ever run entering the weekend, regardless of wind speed.
Freshman | Sprints
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
After a third-place finish in the 60 meters at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships, Egbujor turned his attention to the outdoor campaign.
This past weekend at the USF Bulls Invitational, Egbujor placed third among all competitors in the 200 and fourth in the 100. In the latter, Egbujor ran 10.67 (1st, DIII) and in the latter, he clocked 21.46 (2nd, DIII).
Sophomore | Sprints
New York, New York
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps sophomore Tyra Abraham got a head-start on the competition this season in NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field.
With three meets already under her belt, Abraham turned in a solid performance this past weekend at the Ross and Sharon Irwin Collegiate Scoring Meet. Abraham won the 100 in a DIII-leading time of 12.00 and placed third in the 200 with a time of 25.22, which also tops DIII in the early going.
Sophomore | Hurdles
Central Arizona’s Ruebin Walters went on a rampage during the indoor season. Walters never lost a final in the 60 hurdles and that includes the NJCAA Indoor Championships.
Well, Walters upped the distance this past weekend — and the competition. Walters opened the outdoor season at the Willie Williams Classic where he ran the fastest times this season in NJCAA in the 110 hurdles (13.74) and 400 hurdles (52.76). In the former he competed against NCAA 60 hurdles champ Devon Allen and in the latter, former Washington State standout Jeshua Anderson.
Sophomore | Mid-Distance
After placing second in the 1000 meters at the NJCAA Indoor Championships, Central Arizona’s Marleena Eubanks turned her attention to the outdoor track and the 1500.
At the Willie Williams Classic, Eubanks clocked a 4:34.59 in the 1500, placing second behind a DI runner from Oregon. That time puts Eubanks well ahead of second place on the descending order list (4:52.64).
Freshman | Sprints
Belser took command of the early-season descending order lists at both 100 and 200 meters with strong performances at the VCU Ram Invitational. He ran 11.18 over 100 meters to finish seventh among mostly NCAA competitors, and 22.60 to finish ninth. He also ran a leg of the winning and NJCAA DIII-leading 4×400 relay, and the No. 2 4×100 relay.
Freshman | Sprints
After taking the NJCAA DIII lead at 800 meters earlier this month, Jones claimed the top spot on the national 400-meter leaderboard his weekend at the VCU Ram Invitational. She ran 1:05.04 to finish third in her section and 20th overall amongst the mostly NCAA field.