National Athletes of the Year Announced For 2016 NCAA DI Outdoor Season
NEW ORLEANS — Following the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships this past week in Eugene, Oregon, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced Thursday this season’s National Athletes of the Year.
Arkansas’ Jarrion Lawson and Texas’ Courtney Okolo were named the Men’s and Women’s Track Athletes of the Year, respectively, while Texas A&M’s Lindon Victor and Georgia’s Keturah Orji each garnered their gender’s Field Athlete of the Year honors.
The winners were determined by a vote of USTFCCCA member coaches.
Read more about all of the four honorees below.
Men’s Track Athlete of the Year
JARRION LAWSON, ARKANSAS
Arkansas senior Jarrion Lawson knew he’d be a busy man at NCAAs.
Counting his track events — and that’s all that should be in consideration for this award — he was entered in the 100, 200 and 4×100 relay. The Razorbacks knew if Lawson made the finals — or helped make the finals — in all three, he’d provide them crucial points in the team standings.
Well, Lawson came through huge for Arkansas and completed the second 100-200 sweep in as many years (Andre De Grasse, 2015). He also took the baton second and pushed Arkansas’ 4×100 team to a third-place finish.
That’s 21.5 points for Lawson by himself based off his track accomplishments and he would have beat all but six teams with that total. (It should also be mentioned that Lawson won the long jump and became the first man to complete the 100-200-long jump triple since Jesse Owens in 1936 — but that’s a field accolade.)
Women’s Track Athlete of the Year
COURTNEY OKOLO, TEXAS
Very few women left as big of a mark on the track portion of the collegiate record books this season as Texas’ Courtney Okolo did.
One month into the regular season, Okolo lowered her collegiate record at 400 meters to 49.71. She became the first woman in collegiate history to go sub-50 in the event.
Then at the NCAA West Prelims, Okolo took the baton last to anchor a Longhorn team that ran the ninth fastest 4×400 team in NCAA history (3:25.59).
Two weeks later in Eugene, Okolo captured her second 400-meter title with the 10th fastest time in collegiate history (50.36) and authored a dramatic come-from-behind win in the 4×400.
Men’s Field Athlete of the Year
LINDON VICTOR, TEXAS A&M
During the SEC Championships, Texas A&M junior Lindon Victor burst onto the decathlon scene with the fourth best score in collegiate history (8446). He set personal bests in nine of the 10 contested events and bettered the all-time collegiate decathlon discus record with a throw of 54.56m (179-0).
Victor then went to Eugene and fended off a number of strong contenders en route to the NCAA decathlon title. He led all decathletes in the shot put and discus and placed second in the javelin throw. Victor’s mark of 53.46m (175-5) in the discus throw broke a Hayward Field record for decathlon discus throw.
Women’s Field Athlete of the Year
KETURAH ORJI, GEORGIA
Collegiate records are one thing: American records are another.
For Georgia sophomore Keturah Orji, that standard is now one in the same.
Two weeks after she broke the collegiate record at the NCAA East Prelims with a mark of 14.29m (46-10¾), she upped the ante in Eugene. Orji soared 14.53m (47-8) to improve her own standard and break the American record in the process.
If it weren’t for a pesky, illegal tailwind at the SEC Championships, Orji would have already had an outstanding mark. Her 14.60m (47-10¾) became the farthest all-condition mark in collegiate history.