Postseason Awards Announced for 2016 NCAA DII Cross Country
NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced Tuesday its National Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the 2016 NCAA Division II Cross Country season following the championships in Saint Leo, Florida, this past weekend.
NCAA Division II Cross Country individual champions Vincent Kiprop of Missouri Southern and Kendra Foley of Grand Valley State were named the men’s and women’s USTFCCCA National Athletes of the Year, respectively.
Damon Martin of Adams State and Jerry Baltes of Grand Valley State earned men’s and women’s National Coach of the Year honors, respectively, in leading their teams to national titles.
DOUG WATTS AWARD (MEN’S ATHLETE OF THE YEAR)
Vincent Kiprop, Missouri Southern
Kiprop, a sophomore from Kericho, Kenya, turned the tables on last year’s national champion Alfred Chelanga of Shorter to claim the 2016 national crown. Last year’s national runner-up pulled away from Chelanga in the final two kilometers to cross the line on the 10K course in 29:07.4 for a nearly 30-second victory.
By just before seven kilometers, what had started as a lead pack of half a dozen after the first mile had been whittled down to Kiprop and Chelanga. Kiprop made what would ultimately be the winning move as the two ascended a hill just prior to the 8K split, charging up the incline as Chelanga advanced more laboriously.
The win wrapped up an undefeated sophomore campaign, which included wins at the Arkansas Chile Pepper Festival, the MIAA Championships and the Central Region Championships.
DORIS BROWN HERITAGE AWARD (WOMEN’S ATHLETE OF THE YEAR)
Kendra Foley, Grand Valley State
Foley, a senior from Noblesville, Indiana, made sure in 2016 to avoid a repeat scenario of 2015’s runner-up finish to Alexis Zeis of U-Mary by a third of a second. Making a decisive move at the 6K race’s halfway point, Foley never looked back en route to a 25-second win over Zeis in 20:01.8.
The victory was Foley’s second national title dating back to the 2014 season, and it made her the first woman in NCAA Division II history to win national titles in non-consecutive seasons. She was patient for the first half of the race, allowing Southern Indiana’s Jessica Reeves – the winner of Foley’s Midwest Region – to take an early lead before reeling her in by midway through and pulling away for the rest of the race.
Foley’s season also included a victory at the Michigan State Spartan Invitational and the GLIAC Championships.
JOE VIGIL AWARD (MEN’S COACH OF THE YEAR)
Damon Martin, Adams State
With his men facing a 12-point deficit to Grand Valley State entering the final kilometer of Saturday’s 10K national championship race, 22nd-year Adams State head coach Damon Martin watched as the Grizzlies pulled off the come-from-behind win in the late stages of the race, 54-79, to clinch the NCAA team title.
Adams State’s seventh national title in the past nine seasons was spearheaded by the trio of fourth-place Sydney Gidabuday, eighth-place Kyle Masterson and ninth-place Lucio Ramirez. That trio only accounted for half of the six All-America honors Martin mentored his men to on Saturday, more than any other team in the country for either gender.
Earlier this season, his men lost a tiebreaker at the South Central Region Championship to finish runner-up to go along with a second-place finish at the RMAC Championships.
DUANE VANDENBUSCHE AWARD (WOMEN’S COACH OF THE YEAR)
Jerry Baltes, Grand Valley State
When Baltes’ Laker women made their move halfway through Saturday’s women’s 6K championship race, they never looked back. Led by individual national champion Kendra Foley, GVSU toppled defending national champion Adams State for the title, 116-139.
Baltes, in his 18th year leading the GVSU program, coached four women to All-America honors on Saturday to lead all women’s teams. Frosh Stacey Metzger was 15th overall, while Kelly Haubert and Amy Creutz were 35th and 40th, respectively.
The national title was the Lakers’ fifth in the past seven seasons, and followed up on an undefeated regular season against DII squads. GVSU won at the Midwest Region and GLIAC championships, and scored a win at the Lewis Conference Crossover.