NCAA & NJCAA Outdoor National Athletes of the Week (April 25)
NEW ORLEANS – We’re about a month and a half from wrapping up the collegiate outdoor track & field season, but it seems like those athletes are just warming up.
We saw some great marks from athletes this past weekend and that’s why 10 of them were named National Athletes of the Week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Tuesday.
- NCAA Division I Men – Odean Skeen, Auburn
- NCAA Division I Women – Emily Grove, South Dakota
- NCAA Division II Men – Nils Fischer, Angelo State
- NCAA Division II Women – Emily Presley, Missouri Southern
- NCAA Division III Men – Ian LaMere, UW-Platteville
- NCAA Division III Women – Genny Rose Stringer, UW-Whitewater
- NJCAA Division I Men – Sterling Mungro, Iowa Central CC
- NJCAA Division I Women – Candesha Scott, Central Arizona
- NJCAA Division III Men – Brian Donna, Roxbury CC
- NJCAA Division III Women – Andriana Higgins, Roxbury CC
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.
Junior | Sprints
What do you do when you run the nation’s fastest time in the prelims?
You sit out the finals, of course.
At least that’s what Auburn’s Odean Skeen did this past weekend at the War Eagle Invitational when he clocked a wind-legal time of 9.98 in the 100. Skeen blew away the field in the prelims by 32 one hundredths of a second and chose not to race in the finals.
Prior to this past weekend, there have been two sub-10 marks on the NCAA DI Descending Order List, but both were wind-aided. Skeen becomes the first during the 2017 season to do so with a legal wind at his back (2.0 m/s or less).
Skeen knows another duel with Tennessee’s Christian Coleman and Georgia’s Kendal Williams awaits him at the SEC Outdoor Championships. The native of Kingston, Jamaica finished 2nd in the 60 at the SEC Indoor Championships back in February.
Senior | Pole Vault
We have a new member of the 15-foot club and her name is Emily Grove.
The South Dakota senior skied 4.60m (15-1) at the Sioux City Relays this past weekend and took over the top spot on the NCAA DI Descending Order List from Indiana’s Sydney Clute. Grove also became the 9th member of the 15-foot club in the process.
Grove entered the competition at 4.11m (13-5¾) – every other vaulter had gone out long before she joined the fray – and passed until 4.26m (13-11¾). She went over that bar on her 2nd attempt and needed three tries to eclipse 4.40m (14-5¼) and 4.52m (14-10).
The native of Pontiac, Illinois didn’t wait long to add her name to an exclusive sorority when she made it easily over 4.60m (15-1). Grove tried twice at 4.65m (15-3), but couldn’t muster it.
Freshman | Throws
At the NCAA Division II level, no one has chucked the javelin further than Nils Fischer this year.
This past weekend, the freshman from Germany rolled into the Michael Johnson Invitational at Baylor and posted a javelin mark of 71.26m (233-9), good for the top spot on the NCAA DII Descending Order List. At that meet, Fischer came in 2nd while outthrowing Division I athletes from Air Force, Baylor and Stephen F. Austin.
As a matter of fact, Fischer’s mark tied him for the 6th-best performance in all of collegiate track & field in the event this past week.
In just 5 collegiate competitions, Fischer has hit the NCAA Division II automatic qualifying mark in the javelin twice, including his most recent attempt. Don’t be surprised if Fischer eventually rewrites the NCAA Division II outdoor record book, either. This throw was only 4 inches short of tying the 10th-best performance in the history of the event at this level.
Sophomore | Jumps
St. Clair, Missouri
Emily Presley has sat atop the NCAA DII Descending Order List in the pole vault for a few weeks now, but she just added some distance between herself and her nearest competitor.
The sophomore from St. Clair, Missouri, cleared 4.40m (14-5¼) last weekend at the Missouri S&T Dewey Allgood Invitational, which was tied for the 4th-best mark in all of college track & field this past week. Capturing her 3rd-straight event title by a considerable distance, Presley has now outjumped her nearest competitor on the Descending Order List by 9 inches. Her mark also ties her for the 3rd-best performance in NCAA Division II outdoor history.
The reigning NCAA Division II Outdoor champion in the pole vault doesn’t look like she is slowing down anytime soon, either, as she has steadily improved in each meet this season.
Senior | Distance
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Welcome back, Ian LaMere.
A stress fracture robbed him of the opportunity to compete at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships and he’s making up for lost time in a big way.
This past weekend at the Phil Esten Challenge, LaMere clocked a time of 29.18.92 in the 10000, which is the 8th fastest time in NCAA DIII history. LaMere beat UW-Eau Claire’s Darin Lau by nearly five seconds and North Central (Ill.)’s Zach Plank by 45 seconds.
It was back in April of 2016 when LaMere ran the fastest time in NCAA DIII history over 10000 meters (28:38.63), so this just gives the UW-Platteville standout yet another mark in the top-10. He is one of two men to accomplish that feat (Former record holder Dan Mayer is the other).
Senior | Throws
No one – probably not even Genny Rose Stringer – expected her heave during the discus throw competition this past weekend at the Augustana Women’s Invitational to fly as far as it did.
Well, it did and Stringer put her name in the NCAA DIII record books.
Stringer unleashed a throw of 51.51m (169-0) to demolish her old PR and move up to 9th on the all-time NCAA DIII chart. The senior from Assumption, Illinois had a previous PR of 49.90m.
One look at the NCAA DIII Descending Order List will show Stringer is the clear-cut favorite. She now leads Ithaca’s Brandy Smith by 10 feet, 8 inches. Stringer has a great chance to finish better than she did in the discus throw at both the 2014 and 2016 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships where she took 4th place.
Sophomore | Throws
Good luck trying to catch Sterling Mungro in the hammer throw this year, folks.
The sophomore from DeSoto, Texas, was absolutely ridiculous at the Musco Twilight last weekend where he posted a throw of 63.01m (206-9), defeating NCAA Division I athletes from Northern Iowa and Iowa State.
Mungro’s nearest competitor on the Descending Order List sits more than 17 feet below him.
Freshman | Throws
Only a freshman, Candesha Scott has made a name for herself in the javelin throw during her rookie campaign.
The product for Central Arizona notched a throw of 48.83m (160-2) at the Triton Invitational over the weekend, heading to the top of the NJCAA Division I Descending Order List. In San Diego, Scott’s throw went further than a slew of NCAA Division I athletes.
On the season now, Scott sits a little under 21 feet ahead of her nearest competitor in the javelin.
Sophomore | Sprints/Hurdles
Both NJCAA Division III hurdle top marks on the season fell this weekend and both came at the hands of Brian Donna.
The sophomore from Boston was stellar at the Duke Invitational for Roxbury CC, posting a 15.01 in the 110 hurdles and a 54.58 in the 400 hurdles. In the shorter version of the event, Donna outdistanced himself from a plethora of athletes from NCAA Division I programs. But in the 400 hurdles, Donna won his heat in a time that is nearly 2 seconds faster than the next person on the Descending Order List.
Sophomore | Sprints/Hurdles
Much like her male counterpart, Andriana Higgins was a hurdling machine this past weekend.
The sophomore from Milton, Massachusetts, also set new NJCAA Division III bests in the hurdles for the season, running a 14.99 in the 100 hurdles and a 1:05.87 in the 400 hurdles. And like Donna, Higgins set herself apart from her nearest competition at the NJCAA Division III level.
With her new marks, Higgins is over 2 seconds faster in the 100 hurdles and just over 4 seconds faster in the 400 hurdles than any NJCAA Division III competitor this year.