XC National Athletes of the Week For September 12
NEW ORLEANS — The NCAA and NJCAA cross country seasons are off to a fast start and fast is a perfect adjective to describe our newest National Athletes of the Week.
The following 10 athletes — six across the NCAA divisions, four across the NJCAA — stood out among their peers at this past weekend’s meets.
This week’s male winners include Eastern Kentucky’s Erick Rotich (NCAA Division I), Colorado Mines’ Nathanael Williams (NCAA Division II), NYU’s Jorge Maldonado (NCAA Division III), North Iowa Area CC’s Wal Khat (NJCAA Division I) and Columbus State CC’s Adam Glass (NJCAA Division III).
Female winners are Penn State’s Tessa Barrett (NCAA Division I), U-Mary’s Alexis Zeis (NCAA Division II), Hope College’s Erin Herrmann (NCAA Division III), Susan Ejore (NJCAA Division I) and Harper College’s Ali Gutt (NJCAA Division III).
Find out more about each of these runners 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 six collegiate cross country athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA 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.
Sophomore | Eldoret, Kenya
It was a four-man duel for first place at the Kentucky Bluegrass Invitational. Illinois’ Jonathan Davis battled Kentucky’s Jacob Thomson and the Eastern Kentucky duo of Amos Kosgey and Erick Rotich.
When all was said and done, Rotich kicked past the others to claim his first victory of the young season. Rotich covered the 8K course in 24:30.5, two seconds faster than Thomson, who finished runner-up.
Rotich and the Colonels won’t toe the starting line again until September 30 when they face what should be a talented field at Notre Dame’s Joe Piane Invitational.
Sophomore | Waverly, Pennsylvania
Penn State’s Tessa Barrett is in All-American form early in the season.
For the second consecutive week, Barrett left the field in the dust to capture an individual title. This time it happened at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational.
Barrett not only beat runners from 15th-ranked Syracuse and 19th-ranked Georgetown, she did so in style. The redshirt sophomore smashed the meet record in the process. Barrett crossed the finish line in 20:31, well ahead of the previous best of 20:52, set by Michigan’s Katie Jazwinski 16 years ago.
The Nittany Lions are back on the grass at the Roy Griak Invitational on September 24.
Senior | Carson City, Nevada
Running in his first cross country race since helping to lead Colorado Mines to its first-ever NCAA Cross Country title last fall, Williams appeared to pick right back up where he left off. Williams won the Colorado College Invitational individual title, running 24:55 over 8K to hold off a trio of competitors from RMAC rival CSU-Pueblo by two seconds.
Led by his individual win, Williams’ Orediggers took the team title at Colorado College over CSU-Pueblo, 27-33.
Junior | Bismark, North Dakota
Alexis Zeis kicked off her NCAA Cross Country individual title defense in style this weekend, taking down several All-Americans along the way. Running at the MSU-Moorhead Dragon Twilight, Zeis ran 13:12.3 over 4K to defeat Minnesota-Duluth’s Emilee Trost by 12 seconds. Trost was 29th at NCAAs last year, third-place Ida Narbuvoll of U-Mary was 37th at NCAAs a year ago while running for Edinboro, and fourth-place Breanna Colbenson of Duluth was 30th at NCAAs.
Following Zeis’ lead, U-Mary took the team title over Minnesota-Duluth, 28-42.
Senior | Palisades Park, New Jersey
Three nationally-ranked teams toed the starting line this past weekend at the Ron Stonitsch Invitational hosted by Vassar: No. 3 Williams, No. 24 RPI and No. 29 NYU.
Ultimately it was Jorge Maldonado, a senior from NYU, who ran away with the individual crown. Maldonado crossed the finish line in 19:08.1, 18 seconds faster than Williams’ Ben Decker, who was runner-up.
Decker’s team got the last laugh as the Ephs won the title, but to the victor of the race go the spoils.
Senior | Wheaton, Illinois
Hope College upped the ante this past weekend when it ran at the Ferris State Ray Helsing Bulldog Invitational and competed against numerous Division II athletes.
Well, Erin Herrmann was up for the challenge.
Herrmann put together a clinic over the 5K course, beating the runner-up to the finish line by 16 seconds. Her winning time was 18:25.8.
This was Herrmann’s second win of the season. The last came two weeks ago at the Hope College Vanderbilt Invitational, which also was 5K in distance.
Freshman | Mooseheart, Illinois
North Iowa Area Community College’s Wal Khat is the man to beat so far in NJCAA Division I Cross Country.
Those who competed at the NCAA Division III-heavy Les Duke Invitational this past weekend can attest to that claim.
Khat surged ahead to beat Central College’s Isaac Steffensmeier down the stretch. The winning time for Khat was 26:55.5 over the 8K distance.
Sophomore | Nakuru, Kenya
Monroe College’s Susan Ejore came back in a big way this past weekend.
Running at the Cairn Highlander Invitational, Ejore cruised to a dominant win. Ejore finished in 20:41.3, more than one minute faster than the runner-up (21:54.4).
Freshman | Grove City, Ohio
Running in his NJCAA debut at the Finger Lakes CC Bruce Bridgeman Invitational, Adam Glass was the top NJCAA finisher. He covered the 8K course in 31:49, finishing two seconds ahead of the next-best NJCAA finisher, Alec Ambroso of Mohawk Valley CC.
Sophomore | Schaumburg, Illinois
After a freshman campaign that saw her finish runner-up in cross country and win two titles on the track, Ali Gutt made a strong debut in 2016. Competing over 6K at the Aurora Spartan Classic, Gutt finished second overall in a mostly-NCAA DIII field in 22:57. She was one of only two runners to crack 23 minutes in the race.