NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (October 31)
NEW ORLEANS — Championship season is upon us.
When it comes to NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II and NCAA Division III, that means conference championships. Two weeks ago it was NCAA Division II’s turn. This past weekend NCAA Division I and NCAA Division III had their go.
For those runners in the NJCAA, region championships serve as a final tune-up before the national championship meets start up in just 12 days.
One thing that all of our National Athletes of the Week have in common is that they are all championship-level contenders.
The men are Oregon’s Edward Cheserek (NCAA Division I), Virginia Union’s Luis Nieves (NCAA Division II), UW-Platteville’s Ian LaMere (NCAA Division III), Central Arizona’s Gilbert Kigen (NJCAA Division I) and SUNY Adirondack’s Jason Linendoll (NJCAA Division III).
The women are Washington’s Amy-Eloise Neale (NCAA Division I), Winston-Salem State’s Domtilla Kiplaget (NCAA Division II), Stevens’ Amy Regan (NCAA Division III), Iowa Central’s Leanne Pompeani (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 10 collegiate cross country athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions as well as the NJCAA).
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.
Senior | Newark, New Jersey
Before this past weekend, no man in the storied history of the Pac-12 Conference had won four consecutive cross country titles. Steve Prefontaine and Henry Rono won three, yet couldn’t close the deal on a fourth.
Edward Cheserek one-upped them on Friday and joined former Arizona star Amy Skiersez as the only runners to capture four Pac-12 crowns in a row.
Cheserek took control of the race after 4000 meters on a sweltering day in Arizona and pulled away from there. The Oregon senior crossed the finish line in 23:58.9, nearly 15 seconds ahead of runner-up Grant Fisher of Stanford.
Now Cheserek turns his attention to the West Region Championships on November 11 and then NCAAs on November 19, where he could make history once again.
Junior | Snohomish, Washington
Through 5K of the women’s race at the Pac-12 Championships last Friday, Colorado’s Kaitlyn Benner and Erin Clark were ahead of the pack. Benner and Clark had a two-second lead on third-place Bethan Knights and three seconds on Washington’s Amy-Eloise Neale, who sat in seventh.
By the finish, Neale mounted an incredible rally and captured the individual title.
Neale overtook six runners in the last 1K and recorded a finishing time of 20:22.9. She closed the final 1K in 3:08, four seconds faster than Clark did as the runner-up.
This continues to be a breakout season for Neale, as she finished fourth at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational two weeks ago. Neale will be back in action in 11 days at the West Region Championships.
Junior | Miami, Florida
No one in the CIAA as faster than Luis Nieves of Virginia Union, as the junior covered the 8K course in Richmond, Virginia, in 27:48.0. The next finisher crossed the line more than half a minute later. Led by his win, the Virginia Union men took the CIAA title, 32-75, over Virginia State.
Sophomore | Eldoret, Kenya
Domtilla Kiplaget claimed the CIAA individual title this past Thursday with an 18:35.4 clocking over five kilometers. The junior completed the course six seconds faster than her teammate Fawzia Kheir, leading the Rams to a decisive win in the team standings, 26-106, over Virginia Union.
Senior | Green Bay, Wisconsin
Very few men in NCAA DIII history ran as fast as Ian LaMere did last year at NCAAs.
LaMere made sure no man in WIAC history ran faster than he did this past weekend at the WIAC Championships.
Running ahead of the pack, as he often does, LaMere covered the 8K course in 23:55.2. That broke his old record of 24:07.26 that he set in a winning effort last year.
LaMere became the third runner in UW-Platteville history to win back-to-back individual titles. The Pioneers have won the individual title eight times since 2000.
Senior | Green Brook, New Jersey
Amy Regan’s Cross Country Victory Tour continued this past weekend.
Regan cruised to the individual title at the Empire 8 Championships as she crossed the finish line in 17:17.4 and beat Ithaca’s Taryn Cordani by five seconds. That was Regan’s fourth Empire 8 title in a row and she became the first woman in conference history to accomplish that feat.
To give an idea of Regan’s fitness, she averaged 5:33.9 per mile over the 5K tract. She ran that same course in mid-September and averaged 5:48.2 mile splits.
Regan will race again in less than two weeks at the Atlantic Region Championships, a meet she has won once in her career. She placed 2nd there as a sophomore in 2013.
Gilbert Kigen is in a class of his own in Region I Cross Country.
Kigen rolled to the individual title this past weekend as he covered the 4.90-mile course in 23:34, a staggering 57 seconds clear of the runner-up.
That was Kigen’s fourth win of the season and he could make it five in 12 days at the NJCAA Division I Championships in El Dorado, Kansas.
Sophomore | Canberra, Australia
Winning and Leanne Pompeani are synonymous.
For the third time this season, Pompeani captured an individual title. This one came at the Region XI Championships where she clocked a winning time of 17:36.9 and beat the runner-up by nearly 47 seconds.
Pompeani and the top-ranked Iowa Central women will try to both win national titles come November 12 in El Dorado, Kansas.
Sophomore | Hudson Falls, New York
Jason Linendoll took the title at the NJCAA Region III Championships, defeating NJCAA DIII track & field All-American Alec Ambruso of Mohawk Valley CC head-to-head. Linendoll covered the 8K course in Utica, New York, in 30:04.3 to win by 23 seconds.
Sophomore | Schaumburg, Illinois
Not only was Gutt the top NJCAA DIII finisher at this weekend’s Region IV Championship at Moraine Valley CC, she was the top overall finisher. The multiple-time National Athlete of the Week notched a 35-second victory on Saturday, covering the 5K course in 19:39.9. The nearest NJCAA DIII athlete was 86 second behind her.