NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (Feb. 28)

NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (Feb. 28)

NEW ORLEANS — This indoor season has been nothing short of incredible.

Yet another weekend saw a collegiate record fall. Sorry, we should say collegiate records.

Two National Athletes of the Week shattered collegiate records, while another established a new division standard.

Here are those eight athletes honored Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

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 — Edward Cheserek, Oregon

Senior | Distance
Newark, New Jersey

King Cheserek or King of the Indoor Mile?

Well, they’re on in the same now.

This past weekend at the Boston University Last Chance Meet, Oregon star Edward Cheserek clipped Lawi Lalang’s old record and nearly became the first collegian to go sub-3:52 indoors. Cheserek crossed the finish line in 3:52.01 to beat an impressive field that saw 11 of the 12 finishers go sub-4 minutes.

Cheserek is once again qualified for three events at NCAAs – mile, 3000, 5000 – and who knows what he’ll choose to compete in come March 10-11 in College Station, Texas.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN — Keturah Orji, Georgia

Junior | Jumps
Mount Olive, New Jersey

The collegiate records in the triple jump are now unified.

Georgia standout Keturah Orji shattered the indoor collegiate record this past weekend at the SEC Indoor Championships in Nashville, Tennessee.

Orji bounded 14.32m (46-11¾) on her first attempt to top Suzette Lee’s old standard of 14.25m (46-9). Orji then added another mark of 14.32m to her ledger before wrapping up with one of 14.28m. So all told, Orji posted three marks that surpassed the collegiate record – but her first is the one that the record book will remember.

We’ll see Orji in action again next week at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN — Mobolade Ajomale, Academy of Art

Sophomore | Sprints
Richmond Hill, Canada

History was set on Sunday at the Boston University Last Chance Meet.

Mobolade Ajomale rose to 1st in the Descending Order Lists in both the 60 meters and the 200 meters, posting automatic qualifying times for the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in the process. But, the native of Richmond Hill, Canada, did even more.

In the 200 meters, the redshirt-sophomore ran a 20.85 that broke a seven-year Division II record in the event, previously held by Saint Augustine’s Josh Scott. Ajomale must be a big fan of the Boston University Last Chance Meet; just a year ago, he ran what was the 7th fastest time in the 200 meters in Division II history there.

Not to be overshadowed, Ajomale’s time in the 60 meters was also highly impressive. After running a 6.70 in the prelims to become just the third automatic national qualifier this year, he bettered that mark with a 6.64 in the finals, shooting to the top of the Descending Order List.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN — Courtney Crandall, Sioux Falls

Senior | Jumps
Rapid City, South Dakota

Only two women have hit the NCAA Division II Automatic Qualifying mark in the pole vault this season.

The difference between this week and every week since Jan. 28 is that their spots in the Descending Order Lists have changed.

Courtney Crandall of Sioux Falls literally vaulted herself into 1st in the Division II Descending Order List at the NSIC Indoor Conference Championships, clearing 4.32m (14-2). The native of Rapid City surpassed Missouri Southern’s Emily Presley, who held the top mark in Division II for the last month.

The mark is not surprising, as Crandall has cleared 4.00m in all but one meet on the year. With nearly a two-foot lead in seeding at the conference championships, Crandall was challenged by USF Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Reid Ehrisman to break the meet record. She did just that, and in the process, set the 4th-best mark in the event in Division II history.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN — Peter Hale, Williams

Senior | Distance
Swampscott, Massachusetts

Edward Cheserek wasn’t the only collegian running fast at the Boston University Last Chance Meet.

Peter Hale put together quite the performance in the 3000 meters.

Hale finished runner-up to Iona’s Johannes Motschmann in the seeded section, but it wasn’t his placement that had everyone talking. Instead, Hale’s time of 8:09.51 is the 2nd fastest time in NCAA DIII history at that distance. It only trails the NCAA DIII record of 8:07.02 set by St. Thomas (Minn.)’s Ben Sathre in 2012.

We should see an incredible race for the NCAA DIII title next weekend when Hale matches up against UW-Platteville’s Ian LaMere and MIT’s Dennis Maloney, who finished 3rd behind Hale this past weekend.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN — Felicia Koerner, Johns Hopkins

Sophomore | Distance
Munich, Germany

Look at the top of the NCAA Division III Descending Order List and you’ll find Felicia Koerner’s name firmly entrenched above the 3000 and 5000.

The same could be said for her performances this past weekend at the Centennial Conference Championships. Koerner doubled up on the distance titles (3000/5000) and finished 2nd in the mile with a time that now ranks her 6th at that distance (4:57.06).

Earlier this season Koerner ran the 2nd fastest time in NCAA DIII history over 3000 meters (9:24.34) and only sits behind Missy Buttry’s legendary performance. Koerner is also the 9th best performer in NCAA DIII history at 5000 meters (16:41.95).

NJCAA MEN — Kasey Burlingham, Mesa (Ariz.) CC

Freshman | Pole Vault

Kasey Burlingham had been on top of the NJCAA pole vault world for most of the season.

He truly cemented his spot this past weekend at the Mesa Last Chance Indoor Invitational.

Burlingham cleared 5.15m (16-10¾) to win the event and put more than a foot between himself and the runner-up on the NJCAA Descending Order List.

He’ll go for the NJCAA title this weekend in Pittsburg, Kansas.

NJCAA WOMEN — Adriana Janic, Hutchinson (Kan.) CC

Freshman | Combined Events
Malmo, Sweden

Adriana Janic is the woman to beat in the pentathlon this weekend at the NJCAA Indoor Championships.

Janic proved that last week at the Region VI Championships when she posted a total score of 3734 points. That put her in the national lead by 43 points over Barton County (Kan.) CC’s Ayesha Champagne, who was the double winner last year at the national championships in the combined events.