Conference Championships

NCAA National Athletes of the Week (May 17)

NCAA National Athletes of the Week (May 17)

NEW ORLEANS — It’s championship season and athletes are putting together memorable performances already.

For the second consecutive weekend, record or near-record efforts lit up the landscape.

Here are six NCAA athletes that stood out and were named National Athletes of the Week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Tuesday.

Find out more about 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 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 — Lindon Victor, Texas A&M

Junior | Combined Events
St. Georges, Grenada

Until this past weekend, Lindon Victor didn’t have a decathlon score to his name under the NCAA umbrella.

Now Victor has one of the best performances of all-time after winning the decathlon title at the SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Victor posted a tally of 8446 and set personal bests in nine of the 10 events. The only discipline in which Victor didn’t PR was the shot put. He fell just shy of setting the collegiate record in the decathlon with his 1500-meter effort of 4:47.12.

Here are the athletes in front of Victor on the all-time chart: Trey Hardee, Tom Pappas and Ashton Eaton. Not bad company to be in if you’re a decathlete.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN — Keturah Orji, Georgia

Sophomore | Jumps
Mount Olive, New Jersey

Windy or not, what Keturah Orji did in this weekend’s SEC Championships triple jump competition was truly special. On her fifth attempt, the reigning indoor and outdoor national champion uncorked an enormous — albeit wind-illegal — leap of 14.60m (47-10¾) with a tailwind of 2.9m/s.

How big was that mark? So big that it is only equaled in all-conditions collegiate history by Erica McClain’s mark of the exact same distance at the 2008 NCAA Championships. The then-Stanford senior had slightly more tailwind behind her, however, at 3.4m/s.

Orji is making a habit of surpassing 14 meters these days. She kicked off the competition this weekend with a wind-legal 14.02m (46-0) leap and posted a huge 14.19m (46-6¾) on her third attempt. Reportedly, she was on track for an even bigger leap on attempt No. 6, but she fouled.

The latter jump is significant for several reasons. First, it’s the fifth-longest wind-legal jump in collegiate history and it solidifies her spot at No. 4 on the all-time college performers list. And second, she surpassed the Olympics entry standard of 14.15m in the triple jump — and is the only American to have done so this year. If that holds, she is a likely Olympian for Team USA.

Speaking of the world stage, she’s currently ranked No. 8 worldwide on the wind-legal list and No. 5 on the all-conditions list.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN — Garrett Appier, Pittsburg State

Senior | Throws
Paola, Kansas

A little less than a month ago, Chris Prange of Northwest Missouri had been securely atop the all-time NCAA DII shot put list for more than a decade. Fast forward to today, and Garrett Appier has almost completely pushed Prange’s one-time standard of 20,14m (66-1) outside the all-time top-10 DII throws list.

Appier continued his prodigious roll this weekend with three more heaves of 67 feet or farther — accomplishing that feat for the second time this year (again, no DII man had ever thrown 67 feet prior to late April of this year).

Competing at the MSSU Last Chance Twilight, Appier uncorked consecutive heaves of 20.52m (67-4), 20.61m (67-7½) and 20.57m (67-6) that landed at No. 6, No. 3 and No. 4 on the all-time DII throws list.

His shortest measured throw of the day? That would be 19.55m (64-1¾) — a mark that only eight other men in NCAA DII history have ever equaled or surpassed.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN — Carly Muscaro, Merrimack

Junior | Sprints
Ashland, Massachusetts

It’s been a long time since any NCAA DII woman has run faster over 400 meters than did Carly Muscaro at this weekend’s NEICAAA Championships. And we mean a long time.

Muscaro ran a blistering 51.17 to win the New England (NEICAAA) Outdoor Championships title in a new New England Intercollegiate record and the third-fastest time in NCAA DII history. The only two DII times faster than Muscaro? That would be the record 50.93 run by Rosalyn Bryant in 1978 at the now-defunct AIAW Championships and Lincoln (Mo.)’s Lorraine Graham’s 51.04 at the 1997 Drake Relays.

Among all collegians this year, Muscaro is ranked seventh in the nation and she is now qualified both the the USATF Olympic Trials and, if she makes it through the Trials, the 2016 Olympics.

She also ran a leg of Merrimack’s runner-up 4×400 relay at the NEICAAA Championships.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN — Dan Arnold, UW-Platteville

Senior | Hurdles
Fargo, North Dakota

Dan Arnold was tired of being on the outside looking in.

After Arnold ran a division-leading 13.93 in the 110 hurdles last week at the WIAC Championships, the sophomore was on the cusp of posting one of the fastest times in DIII history in the event. If Arnold ran 0.01 seconds faster, he’d be in a tie for 10th all-time.

Well, Arnold knocked off 0.02 seconds from his time this past weekend at the UW-La Crosse Open (13.91) and is now the ninth fastest performer with the ninth fastest time in DIII history.

Arnold and the second fastest performer with the second fastest time (Luke Arnold of Salisbury) will duke it out in two weeks at the NCAA Division III Championships.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN — Amanda Frier, Wisconsin Lutheran

Senior | Hurdles
Oostburg, Wisconsin

Amanda Frier found another gear this past weekend.

Pardon the rhyme, but Frier posted a division-leading time.

OK. We’ll stop.

Frier lowered her personal best by a little more than three seconds in a winning effort at the North Central (Ill.) Dr. Keeler Track & Field Meet. The senior from Oostburg ran 1:00.52, putting her ahead of Washington (Mo.)’s Kelli Hancock by 0.23 seconds.

To gain some perspective on this, Frier went from outside the top-50 of the national descending order list to No. 1. Not a bad effort for her at all.