NCAA & NJCAA National Athletes of the Week For March 29

Courtesy: Tyler Mayforth & Kyle Terwillegar, USTFCCCA

March 29, 2016   

NEW ORLEANS — Just like that, we have our first repeat selection for National Athlete of the Week during the young outdoor season.

As far as the other nine choices, it goes to show how much parity there is in collegiate track & field.

Here are those 10 men and women from all three NCAA divisions and both NJCAA divisions that earned National Athlete of the Week honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Tuesday.

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.

NCAA DIVISION I MEN — Sam Mattis, Pennsylvania

Senior | Throws
East Brunswick, New Jersey

Sam Mattis is untouchable with a discus in his hand right now.

After another impressive outing, Mattis owns all 10 of the longest throws this season by a collegian. During the Penn Challenge this past weekend, all six of Mattis’ missiles went farther than 195 feet, including his best of 61.69m (202-4).

Want to know the scary thing? All of those throws didn’t touch his from last week when he unleashed the second (67.45m/221-3), third (67.21m/220-6) and sixth-longest throws (66.51m/218-2) in collegiate history.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN — Shayla Sanders, Florida

Junior | Sprints
Pompano Beach, Florida

The strongest 100-meter field of the season to date was assembled this past weekend at the Power Conference Cardinal & Gold Challenge in Los Angeles, California. That’s where Shayla Sanders, Texas’ Teahna Daniels (NCAA 60-meter champ) and USC’s Deanna Hill battled it out.

Sanders ultimately won the race with an NCAA-leading time of 11.13, eight-hundredths of a second ahead of Daniels (11.21).

That same day, Sanders beat Texas’ Morolake Akinosun, the NCAA runner-up at 100 meters last year, at 200 meters. Sanders’ time of 22.77 is the fastest wind-legal time at that distance this season.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN — Garrett Appier, Pittsburg State

Senior | Throws
Paola, Kansas

During the first meet of the indoor season, Garrett Appier must have known his senior year could be special.

Then with what he did at his first outdoor meet, Appier continued to prove that.

At the Pittsburg State Invitational this past weekend, Appier put together a strong series in the shot put with three throws over 19.28m (63-3¼). The reigning NCAA Division II shot put champ’s best throw (19.96m/65-6) put him fifth on the all-time DII chart.

Appier currently leads all DII throwers by nearly seven feet.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN — Courtney Crandall, Sioux Falls

Senior | Pole Vault
Rapid City, South Dakota

Courtney Crandall vaulted into the DII record books this past weekend at the War Hawk Classic.

On the second attempt of her fourth height, Crandall cleared 4.10m (13-5¼). Not only did that give Crandall an automatic qualifying mark for NCAAs, it landed her on the all-time chart.

Crandall is now tied for ninth on the all-time performers list, along with four other vaulters.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN — Arinza Okeke, MIT

Junior | Jumps
Hawthorne, California

Arinza Okeke soared into the DIII lead in the triple jump and is now fifth in the long jump after a solid showing this past weekend at the PLNU Track & Field Invitational.

In the triple jump, Okeke finished third overall after a leap of 14.73m (48-4). That left him on top of the descending order list by 6¼ inches.

Then in the long jump, Okeke was fourth thanks to his second attempt of 6.86m (22-6¼).

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN — Emily Richards, Ohio Northern

Sophomore | Mid-Distance
Delaware, Ohio

Emily Richards didn’t care which heat she ran out of at the Raleigh Relays.

Richards only knew she was going to run fast, regardless.

The sophomore mid-distance standout won her 800-meter heat by more than two seconds and clocked the fastest time in the event (2:07.50). Richards topped 15 DI runners, including NC State’s Megan Moye, who finished seventh at NCAAs in the mile this past indoor season.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN — Brian Williams, Iowa Central CC

Sophomore | Throws
Warren, Michigan

Brian Williams didn’t shy away from the spotlight at the Arkansas Spring Invitational this past weekend.

Williams, competing against numerous DI athletes in the discus, stepped up when it mattered. Needing a big throw on his final attempt, Williams delivered with a heave of 55.71m (182-9) to win the title by five feet.

This all came after Williams finished second and fourth at the NJCAA Indoor Championships in the weight throw and shot put, respectively.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN — Janeah Stewart, Iowa Central CC

Sophomore | Throws
Calumet City, Illinois

Competition was fierce at the Arkansas Spring Invitational in both the shot put and hammer throw.

Janeah Stewart made sure those DI athletes competiting against her wouldn’t forget her name.

Stewart placed third in the shot put (16.26m/53-4¼) behind Mississippi’s Raven Saunders and Oklahoma State’s Chase Ealey, then also took third in the hammer throw (54.44m/178-7) behind Saunders and Missouri’s Rebecca Keating. Those throws have Stewart ranked first and second in NJCAA DI, respectively.

In fact, Stewart’s heave in the shot put set a new junior college record.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN — Brett Evans, Montgomery College

Sophomore | Sprints

At the Gallaudet University Invitational this past weekend, Brett Evans ran to the front of the line in the 100 and 200 in NJCAA Division III.

Evans’ time of 11.10 in the 100 has him eight-hundredths of a second in front of the next fastest competitor, while his 22.02 in the 200 puts him ahead by a bigger margin (.58).

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN — Ebinama Glory, Howard CC

Freshman | Sprints

Surrounded by DIII athletes, Ebinama Glory knew she had to step it up in the 100 and 200 this past weekend.

That’s exactly what Glory did.

The freshman clocked NJCAA DIII’s best time at 100 meters (12.69) and 200 meters (26.21) during the Goucher Track & Field Classic.