NCAA & NJCAA National Athletes of the Week (April 12)
NEW ORLEANS — A light schedule on the national scale didn’t keep these 10 athletes from shining this past weekend.
Here are those NCAA and NJCAA athletes who earned National Athlete of the Week honors on Tuesday, as presented by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
- NCAA Division I Men — Shaquille Walker, BYU
- NCAA Division I Women — DeAnna Price, Southern Illinois
- NCAA Division II Men — Abraham Alvarado, Cal State Stanislaus
- NCAA Division II Women — Heavin Warner, Central Missouri
- NCAA Division III Men — Jamal Watkins, Birmingham-Southern
- NCAA Division III Women — Maya Weigel, Pomona-Pitzer
- NJCAA Division I Men — Lamarion Arnold, Butler CC
- NJCAA Division I Women — Christine Moss, New Mexico JC
- NJCAA Division III Men — Joel Thomas, Prince George’s CC
- NJCAA Division III Women — Coneisha Smith, Prince George’s CC
Find out more about these athletes by either clicking their name 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 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.
Junior | Mid-Distance
Richmond Hill, Georgia
Shaquille Walker left it all on the track this past weekend.
Walker has a legendary mark to show for it.
At the Sun Angel Track Classic, Walker made the 800 look like child’s play. Walker cruised to a near two-second win over Minnesota’s Goaner Deng when he ran 1:44.99.
To put Walker’s race in perspective, only one man in collegiate history ran faster than him in the month of April: South Carolina’s Otukile Lekota in 2001 (1:44.76).
Walker’s prior personal best outdoors was 1:45.78, which — interestingly enough — he ran last year at that same meet.
Senior | Throws
Moscow Mills, Missouri
Price finished last month with the farthest-ever mark in the hammer throw by a collegian in the month of March, and she’s already off to an incredible start in April. Competing at the Auburn Tiger Track Classic, the senior launched a massive 72.48m (237-9) heave on her final attempt to move to give her the third-farthest throw in collegiate history. It also improves upon her standing as the
She went farther than 70 meters four times on the day, including a third-attempt bomb of 71.88m (235-10). Combined with her winning mark, she became just the second collegian in history to record two marks of 71.50m or farther in the same meet – joining collegiate record-holder Jenny Dahlgren of Georgia, who surpassed 71.50m three times on this same weekend in 2007.
No other collegian has thrown farther than 67.04m this season – a mark Price surpassed six times this weekend.
Sophomore | Mid-Distance
The aforementioned Walker of BYU wasn’t the only NCAA Division leader in that quick Sun Angel 800-meter race this weekend. Finishing fourth was last year’s NCAA DII runner-up Alavarado, who shaved three-quarters of a second off his career-best to run 1:47.23 — good for the 2016 DII lead by more than a second.
Not only does the time put him atop DII and eighth among all collegians in 2016, it’s also one of the fastest ever run by a DII man. Though he was already No. 8 on the all-time DII list and remained in that position, he did become just the eighth man in the Division’s history to crack the 1:48 barrier.
Just for good measure, he added a leg for the fifth-place 4×400 relay team.
Two weekends ago at the Texas Relays, he followed another DI star — indoor national champion Clayton Murphy of Akron — to a fourth-place finish, two spots ahead of Olympic 1500-meter silver medalist Leo Manzano. With this weekend’s effort, he now finds himself two spots ahead of Murphy, who ran 1:47.38, on the college leaderboard.
Senior | Throws
St. Joseph, Missouri
Already the best hammer thrower in NCAA Division II history, Warner is starting to work her way up the history books in another event: the discus.
Among her three wins in the discus, shot put and hammer at the MIAA vs. NSIC Showdown was a massive 55.00m (180-5) heave on her final attempt. The mark was good enough to assume the NCAA DII lead and just missed the all-time DII list by nine centimeters.
It took her until May of last year to set her then-PR 54.98m (180-4), two weekends before the NCAA Championships.
She also threw a season-best 14.15m (46-5¼) to win the shot put, and though her winning 62.51m (205-1) mark in her signature hammer event was well shy of her season and career-bests, it still surpassed the next-best mark in DII by more than 11 feet.
Sophomore | Sprints
Jamal Watkins faced stiff competition this past weekend at the Heart of Dixie Brawl.
It was in the first section of the 100 meters where Watkins lined up alongside Stillman’s Donavius Wright, a sprinter who finished second in the 400 at DII nationals last year. Wright is also currently ranked second in DII at 200 meters, so the pressure was high.
Watkins didn’t back down and blistered the track with a 10.63. That time left him atop the DIII descending order list and gave him a new personal best.
This all came one month after Watkins finished second in the 60 at NCAAs.
Junior | Distance
Los Altos, California
When the dust settled after six sections of the 1500 this past weekend at the Pomona-Pitzer Track & Field Invitation, Maya Weigel stood as the top collegian in the field.
Weigel, competing in a strong first section, crossed the finish line in 4:23.56. That time left Weigel as not only the school record holder but the DIII leader as well.
With only four 1500s under belt this season, Weigel improved on her personal best from last year by six seconds. Weigel has also dropper her 800 time by the same amount.
Sophomore | Sprints
Lamarion Arnold asserted himself in a big way this past weekend.
Arnold, a sophomore, took over the NJCAA lead at 200 meters (20.56) and is now fourth at 100 meters (10.35). All of these marks for Arnold came at the Butler CC-hosted Grizzly Invitational.
During the same meet, Arnold helped his team to wins in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays.
Freshman | Sprints
St. Elizabeth, Jamaica
Until this past weekend, no woman had usurped Monroe College’s Zakiya Denoon atop the 200-meter chart. Denoon had been NJCAA’s best since January 29.
Well, that all changed when Christine Moss took to the track at West Texas A&M.
Moss clocked an altitude-converted 23.49 (23.42) to drop Denoon to second.
Sophomore | Sprints
Upper Malboro, Maryland
Joel Thomas did what no man had done yet this season in the 100 — break 11 seconds.
Thomas did just that in big fashion, reeling off a 10.68 at the Don Webster Invitational, hosted by Coppin State.
He is also ranked fourth in NJCAA DIII at 200 meters.
Sophomore | Jumps
This past weekend saw two women triple jump further than 10 meters in NJCAA DIII.
Coneisha Smith had one of them and in doing so, catapulted to the top of the national chart. Smith soared 10.10m (33-1 ¾) at the Don Webster Invitational.