NCAA & NJCAA Outdoor National Athletes of the Week (April 11)

Courtesy: Curtis Akey & Tyler Mayforth, USTFCCCA

April 11, 2017   

NEW ORLEANS As the days tick by during the outdoor season, our National Athletes of the Week keep getting faster and stronger.

Several of those competitors named National Athletes of the Week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Tuesday added their name to the all-time top-10 charts of their respective divisions.

Without further ado, here are those 10 athletes honored by the 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 10 collegiate outdoor track & field athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions and the two in 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 Devon Williams, Georgia

Senior | Combined Events
Marietta, Georgia

Is 2017 the Year of the Multi?

One week after Texas A&M senior Lindon Victor broke the collegiate decathlon record, Georgia senior Devon Williams put up another big score. Williams’ total of 8345 points makes him the 6th best performer in collegiate history with the 8th best all-time score. He beat Kentucky’s Tim Duckworth, who finished runner-up to Williams in the indoor heptathlon, by nearly 400 points.

Williams put together a tremendous effort over the two-day competition, recording lifetime bests in five of the 10 events (400, 110 hurdles, high jump, discus throw and javelin throw) and notched the NCAAs 9th best long jump this season (7.75m/25-5¼).

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Aleia Hobbs, LSU

Junior | Sprints
New Orleans, Louisiana

LSU’s Aleia Hobbs had a busy, but eventful Saturday this past weekend.

Competing at the Battle on the Bayou, Hobbs anchored the Tigers’ 4×100 relay and returned to the track an hour later for the open 100 – and ran exceptionally well.

It was in the 4×100 where Hobbs helped LSU’s quartet run the 2nd fastest time in the nation this year (42.66).

Then in the 100, Hobbs clocked a time of 11.07, which set a personal best by six one-hundredths of a second and now leads the nation. Hobbs’ mark also broke a meet record.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Cole Phillips, Central Missouri

Senior | Jumps
Nixa, Missouri

Cole Phillips was flying high at the SBU Invite in Bolivar, Missouri, this past weekend. While there, the senior from Central Missouri posted an NCAA Division II leading mark in the pole vault at 5.31m (17-5).

Furthermore, Phillips’ mark stands over 4 inches better than the next competitor on descending order list. The native of Nixa, Missouri, hit an NCAA Division II Automatic Qualifying mark on the jump for the 2nd time this year, as he is just one of two men to hit that mark on the year.

With his 1st-place finish at the SBU Invite, Phillips captured his 13th-career pole vault event title during the outdoor season.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Emilyn Dearman, Pittsburg State

Senior | Multis
Stockton, Missouri

What’s better than setting 1 or 2 NCAA Division II leading marks in one meet? How about 3?

Emilyn Dearman did just that over the weekend at the Angelo State David Noble Relays. The senior from Pittsburg State posted an NCAA Division II Automatic Qualifying mark in the heptathlon with 5924 points – good for tops in the nation this year – in addition to recording national-leading marks in the high jump (1.78m/5-10) and in the 100 hurdles (13.43, wind aided). Her high jump mark was also an automatic qualifying mark.

Additionally, Dearman’s point total of 5924 in the heptathlon ranks 2nd all-time in NCAA Division II history, just 217 points behind record holder Salcia Slack’s mark of 6141 set on April 10, 2015. Dearman became just the 2nd woman to score 5900 points in the heptathlon in the history of NCAA Division II.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Tim Nichols, Tufts

Senior | Distance
North Lima, Ohio

Less than one month after narrowly missing double All-America status indoors (1st place 5000 meters, 9th place 3000), Tim Nichols took to the track for his outdoor opener at the Sam Howell Invitational hosted by Princeton.

Nichols, a senior from Tufts, destroyed the field in the 10000. He crossed the finish line in 29:37.09, substantially lowering his PR in the process (previous was 30:12.59). Nichols beat Williams’ Peter Hale, who was the 2017 NCAA DIII 3000 champ, by 23 seconds.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Rebecca Ridderhoff, Washington (Mo.)

Senior | Sprints
Woodridge, Illinois

Rebecca Ridderhoff put her name in the NCAA DIII record book this past weekend.

Ridderhoff clocked a time of 59.38 in the 400 hurdles, which put her 10th on the all-time chart. If Ridderhoff lowers her time by a full second (58.38), she’d be the fastest in DIII history.

It was also during that same meet where Ridderhoff helped Washington (Mo.)’s 4×400 relay team to DIII’s fastest time of the season to date (3:48.78). Ridderhoff ran lead-off.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Gilbert Kigen, Central Arizona

Sophomore | Distance
Eldoret, Kenya

Gilbert Kigen already owned the top time in NJCAA Division I in the 10,000 meters on the season, having run a 30:12.60 a few weekends ago at the Puma Outdoor Invitational.

This past weekend, though, he added to his collection of national-leading marks.

The native of Eldoret, Kenya, ran an NJCAA Division I leading time of 3:47.77 in the 1,500 meters at the Rafer/JJK Invitational in Los Angeles. The sophomore from Central Arizona finished 6th in the race behind 5 NCAA Division I competitors, but managed to post faster times than 13 other NCAA Division I runners. His mark in the event is a shade over 8 seconds faster than the nearest competitor on the descending order list.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Latavia Coombs, New Mexico JC

Sophomore | Multis
St. Catherine, Jamaica

Competing at the WT Classic and Multi in Amarillo, Texas, Latavia Coombs continued her torrid sophomore season by recording the top heptathlon mark in all of NJCAA Division I this year.

The Jamaican – who was named the 2017 USTFCCCA NJCAA Indoor Female Field Athlete of the Year – scored 4698 points against some of the top NCAA Division II talent in the country. Coombs won the 100 hurdles (14.12), while placing 2nd in the high jump (1.64m/5-4½) and long jump (5.58m/18-3¾).

Coombs heptathlon mark is a new personal-best, and currently sits 194 points ahead of her nearest competitor on the descending order list.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Jeff Menyah, Onondaga CC

Freshman | Jumps, Hurdles
Niagara Falls, New York

No one was stopping Jeff Menyah this weekend at the Nazareth College ROC City Track & Field Classic. It was there where the freshman from Onondaga CC recorded the top marks in NJCAA Division III on the year in the 110 hurdles and 400 hurdles while also posting the nation’s 3rd-best long jump mark.

Menyah ran a wind-legal time of 15.16 in the 110 hurdles, 0.26 seconds faster than any other NJCAA Division III athlete this year in addition to running a 56.99 in the 400 hurdles.

In the field, the native of Niagara Falls, New York, leapt 6.77m (22-2½) in the long jump, tying for the 3rd-best leap in the division on the season.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Andriana Higgins, Roxbury CC

Sophomore | Hurdles
Milton, Massachusetts

Andriana Higgins not only recorded the fastest 100 hurdles time in NJCAA Division III this year by a longshot this past weekend, but she did so in a headwind.

The sophomore from Roxbury CC ran a 15.47 in the event at the Regis Spring Classic in Weston, Massachusetts, which is a whopping 1.69 seconds faster than the next competitor on the descending order list. Mother Nature was her enemy on the day, as the native of Milton, Massachusetts, ran the event into a -0.4 wind.

Higgins wasn’t done on the weekend, though, as she also notched a 12.89 (-0.7 wind) in the 100 meters, good for 4th in NJCAA Division III this year.