NAIA National Award Winners For 2017 Outdoor T&F Season

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

These awards were voted on by USTFCCCA member coaches based on performances at both the 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and the entire season.

Information on each of the winners can be found below.

NATIONAL ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

MEN’S TRACK – Jackson Thomas, Bacone (Okla.)

Thomas, a senior from Naschitti, New Mexico, pulled off the distance double at the NAIA Championships. He started things off with a victory on Thursday in the 10,000 meters as he crossed the finish line in 30:14.89. Then he added the 5,000-meter crown to his haul on Saturday as he won by 1 second over William Carey’s Geoffrey Kipchumba.

WOMEN’S TRACK – Anna Shields, Point Park (Pa.)

Shields, a sophomore from Torrington, Connecticut, won the 1500-meter title at the NAIA Championships in 4:24.58 and finished runner-up at 800 meters in 2:10.35. She accounted for all 18 of her team’s points during the NAIA Championships. She also showed great range during the regular season as she competed in the 400 all the way up to the 5000.

MEN’S FIELD – Zach Lurz, Concordia (Neb.)

Lurz, a senior from Chadron, Nebraska, finished in the top-5 of three different throwing events at the NAIA Championships. He took 3rd place in both the shot put and hammer throw and had a 4th place finish in the hammer throw. Lurz scored 17 of the Bulldogs’ 46 points in Gulf Shores.

WOMEN’S FIELD – Becky Collier, Westmont (Calif.)

Collier, a senior, made her final NAIA Championships count. She won the heptathlon and high jump crowns in Gulf Shores. Collier put up a total score of 5178 in the multi and cleared the bar at 1.77m (5-9¾) in the high jump.

NATIONAL COACHES OF THE YEAR

MEN’S HEAD COACH – Laurier Primeau, British Columbia

Primeau, in his 2nd year with the program, led the Thunderbirds to the team title. UBC scored 71 points to knock off top-ranked Indiana Tech. The Thunderbirds put athletes in the top-8 of the 800, 1500, 5000, 5000-meter race walk, 3000-meter steeplechase and won the 4×800 relay.

WOMEN’S HEAD COACH – Brian Whitlock, Wayland Baptist (Texas)

Whitlock, in his 2nd year with the program, led the Pioneers to the team title. WBU held the top ranking in NAIA the last 4 weeks of the season and owned up to the billing in Gulf Shores. The Pioneers scored 75 points and picked up points in the 100, 200, 800, 5000, 10000, 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles, 4×400 relay, 4×800 relay, long jump and marathon.

MEN’S ASSISTANT COACH – Chris Johnson, British Columbia

Johnson, in his 9th year with the program, coached a slew of mid-distance and distance runners to top marks in the NAIA during the regular season and top places in Gulf Shores. UBC scored in each event he coaches, which included a sweep of the top-2 places in the 3000-meter steeplechase.

WOMEN’S ASSISTANT COACH – Ed McLaughlin, Concordia (Neb.)

McLaughlin, in his 20th year with the program, helped the Bulldogs to a 6th place team finish in Gulf Shores. His throwers won the shot put (Samantha Liermann), finished 5-6 in the discus throw, 3-5 in the hammer throw and 5th in the javelin throw.