NJCAA DI National Award Winners For 2017 Outdoor T&F Season

NEW ORLEANS – National Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the 2017 NJCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field season were announced Wednesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

These awards were voted on by USTFCCCA members coaches based on performances at both the 2017 NJCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend and the entire season.

Information on each of the winners can be found below.

NATIONAL ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

MEN’S TRACK – Gilbert Kigen, Central Arizona

Kigen, a sophomore from Eldoret, Kenya, capped an incredible career at the JUCO level this past weekend. He swept the 5000- and 10000-meter crowns in dominant fashion. Kigen won the 5000 by nearly 28 seconds over Cloud County (Kan.)’s Thobile Mosito. The Kenyan won the 10000 by more than one minute over Iowa Central’s Karim Achengli and set a stadium record of 29:33.19 in the process.

WOMEN’S TRACK – Susan Ejore, Monroe (N.Y.)

Ejore, a sophomore from Nakuru, Kenya, made quick work of the competition this past weekend. She won individual titles in the 800 and 1500, then helped the Mustangs cruise to a crown in the 4×800 relay. Ejore won the 800 in 2:10.73 and the 1500 in 4:36.62, a near 7-second win over New Mexico JC’s Esther Gitahi. A strong anchor leg in the 4×800 gave Ejore another gold medal and a total of 22 points to her team’s total.

MEN’S FIELD – Ricky Nelson, Jr., Barton (Kan.) CC

Nelson, a sophomore from Belleville, Illinois, stepped up in a big way this past weekend in Hutchinson, Kansas. He placed in the top-8 of the discus throw, hammer throw and shot put. It was in the discus throw where he crushed the competition by more than 26 feet. Nelson took 4th in the hammer throw and wrapped things up with an 7th-place finish in the shot put.

WOMEN’S FIELD – Latavia Coombs, New Mexico JC

Coombs, a sophomore from Kingston, Jamaica, turned in another fantastic peformance at the national meet. The future Kentucky Wildcat won the triple jump with a mark of 13.03m (42-9) and finished 2nd in the heptathlon with a total score of 4778 points. On the All-College Descending Order List, Coombs sits 6th in the triple jump with her PR of 13.56m (44-6) and is the only JUCO athlete in the top-40.

NATIONAL COACHES OF THE YEAR

MEN’S HEAD COACH – Erik Vance, South Plains (Texas)

Vance, in his 1st year as head coach of the program, continued a legacy set before him. The Texans rolled to their 11th consecutive NJCAA DI team title as they scored 126 points, 28 more than runner-up Barton (Kan.) CC. Athletes from South Plains (Texas) finished in the top-10 of 15 events and nabbed 13 top-3 finishes in the process. The Texans were ranked 2nd in the final USTFCCCA National Team Computer Rankings.

WOMEN’S HEAD COACH – Keith Blackwill, New Mexico JC

Blackwill, in his 12th year with the program, led the Thunderbirds to the indoor-outdoor sweep. This past weekend, New Mexico JC scored a total of 97 points to trump runner-up Barton (Kan.) CC. The Thunderbirds tallied 24 top-10 performances in Hutchinson, Kansas, including three individual titles.

MEN’S ASSISTANT COACH – Willie Calvin, Hinds (Miss.) CC

Calvin, in his 3rd year with the program, helped guide the Eagles to a 4th-place finish at the NJCAA DI Championships thanks to his sprinters. Under Calvin’s direction, Keitavious Walter won the 200-meter title, Tyler Terry captured the 400-meter crown and the program swept the 4×100 and 4×400 relays.

WOMEN’S ASSISTANT COACH – Jeff Becker, New Mexico JC

Becker, in his 7th year with the program, helped the Thunderbirds to the national title. His athletes finished 2nd and 5th in the 1500, 1st in the 5000 as well as 1st and 3rd in the 3000-meter steeplechase. All told, his athletes scored 38 of New Mexico JC’s 97 points.