NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (January 10)

By Tyler Mayforth, USTFCCCA

January 10, 2017   

NEW ORLEANS — The 2017 indoor track & field season is off to a roaring start and athletes are posting record-breaking marks and times as well as establishing new personal bests.

This past weekend we saw some incredible action at the Orange & Purple Classic as well as a few other meets.

NCAA Division III will get into the swing of things next weekend and at that time we’ll resume its awards for the National Athletes of the Week next Monday.

Without further ado, here are the National Athletes of the Week in NCAA DI, NCAA DII and the NJCAA.

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 8 collegiate outdoor track & field athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions and 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.

NCAA DIVISION I MEN – Grant Holloway, Florida

Freshman | Sprints
Chesapeake, Virginia

Talk about an impressive debut!

Florida freshman Grant Holloway turned in a performance for the ages at the Orange & Purple Classic hosted by Clemson this past weekend.

Holloway opened his season with a blistering victory in the 60 hurdles. The Virginia native clocked a time of 7.63, which was the fastest pre-NCAA Indoor Championships time by a freshman in the past 15 years.

He then followed it up with another quick race, this time in the 300 meters. Holloway won the event in 32.80 seconds, which is the second fastest time by any man prior to turning 20 years old and the third fastest time in collegiate history.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Tatiana Gusin, Georgia

Senior | Jumps
Orhei, Moldova

It looks like Georgia’s Tatiana Gusin saved her best for last.

Entering her senior year, Gusin had a previous personal best in the high jump of 1.87m (6-1½) set in 2015 at the SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships.

After one meet in 2017, Gusin pushed that PR to 1.90m (6-2¾) and notched a big victory in the process. Gusin cleared that bar on her final attempt at the height at the Orange & Purple Classic hosted by Clemson. That clearance gave Gusin the victory over Clarissa Cutliff of Florida International, who is 2nd on the descending list right now.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Michael Sandle, Minnesota State

Junior | Jumps
Eden Prairie, Minnesota

Sandle finished his 2016 season atop the world of NCAA Division II triple jumping, and it is to there – plus a bit higher – where he leapt to open up his 2017 campaign.

The reigning NCAA DII outdoor champion leads all collegiate triple jumpers in 2017 after soaring a career-best 16.16m (53-¼) to win the event at his home Alumni Open on Saturday. The performance well exceeds his previous PR of 14.93m from a year ago and even approaches his windy all-conditions career-best of 16.22m (53-2¾) to win the outdoor crown.

Historically, Sandle became just the eighth man in DII history to fly farther than 53 feet in the triple jump indoors, and the first since Ramon Sparks of Abilene Christian did so in January of 2010. Sandle checked in at No. 7 on the all-time DII performers list.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Megan Tomei, Ashland

Senior | Throws
Tallmadge, Ohio

If Tomei’s early season returns are any indication, her senior season is in store for far greater than a pair of 12th-place finishes in the shot put at both indoor and outdoor NCAAs.

Tomei, the lone DII woman in the seven-thrower field at Ohio State’s Buckeye Invitational on Friday, took the win in convincing fashion with a 15.91m (52-5½) heave on her final attempt. Though she could have also defeated runner-up Sade Olatoye of Ohio State with her additional marks of 15.33m and 15.12m, Tomei’s final mark also boosted her to No. 7 among all collegians in the shot put early in 2017 and within nine centimeters of her career best.

Currently, Tomei leads all DII women shot putters by nearly two feet, and is also ranked seventh in DII among weight throwers (though she didn’t compete in that event this weekend).

NJCAA MEN – McKinley West, Barton County CC

Sophomore | Sprints
Camilla, Georgia

Coming off a fifth-place finish in the NJCAA Indoor 60-meter final a year ago, West has already proven himself to be in national-title-contending form to kick off his 2017 campaign. The sophomore blistered a career-best 6.72 in the 60 meters prelims at the Kansas Bill Easton Classic and then went 6.74 in the final to finish runner-up behind only former NCAA DI standout John Teeters.

His performance in the prelims earned him an early-season No. 5 rank among all collegians over the distance.

NJCAA WOMEN – Nessa Mathews, Iowa Central CC

Sophomore | Throws
Fort Dodge, Iowa

What a difference a year made for Mathews, who – in just one meet so far in 2017 – has already improved her career-best in the weight throw by a full meter. The sophomore took the win at the Minnesota State Alumni Open by more than two meters with a heave of 16.50m (54-1¾). She came within a centimeter of her old PR on her second throw at 15.49m, and got the winning mark on her fourth.

She leads all NJCAA women by nearly three meters in the event. She also finished fourth in the shot put at Minnesota State, again with a career-best 12.48m (40-11½). That mark puts her third on the 2017 NJCAA list.