NCAA & NJCAA National XC Athletes of the Week (September 5)

NEW ORLEANS – Today we honor the first National Athletes of the Week for the 2017 cross country season, which began in earnest this past weekend.

The men’s winners are Middle Tennessee State’s Kigen Chemadi (NCAA Division I), New  Mexico Highlands’ Collins Kurui (NCAA Division II), Central College’s Mark Fairley (NCAA Division III), Iowa Central’s Karim Achengli (NJCAA Division I) and Columbus State CC’s Aaron Kennelley (NJCAA Division III).

The women’s winners are Florida State’s Militsa Mircheva (NCAA Division I), Alaska Anchorage’s Caroline Kurgat (NCAA Division II), Misericordia’s Clare Schoen (NCAA Division III), Iowa Central’s Adva Cohen (NJCAA Division I) and Elizabeth Finley (NJCAA Division III).

Find out more about each of these runners 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 cross country athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions and two NJCAA divisions).

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. Nominated athletes are noticed before those athletes found through searching TFRRS.

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 – Kigen Chemadi, Middle Tennessee State

Junior | Ainbkoi, Kenya

Middle Tennessee State topped Ole Miss in an early-season matchup between top-25 teams and Kigen Chemadi was a big reason for that success.

Chemadi, a junior from Ainbkoi, Kenya, won the men’s four-mile race in a time of 19:46.3. That averaged out to a pace of 4:56.6 per mile.

It was a five-second win for Chemadi as he beat teammate Jacob Choge and NAIA stalwart Geoffrey Kipchumba. Choge earned All-America status last year in cross country, while Kipchumba finished runner-up in both distance races in outdoor track and was runner-up at the 2016 NAIA Cross Country Championships.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Militsa Mircheva, Florida State

Junior | Dobrich, Bulgaria

Florida State waited a long time to see what Miltsa Mircheva could do on the cross country course. The Seminoles finally got a look this past weekend at the Covered Bridge Open.

Running in cool and rainy conditions, Mircheva won the women’s 5K race in 16:53.29, 31 seconds faster than runner-up Ann Asipan.

Mircheva has a strong pedigree as she competed in the marathon at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Last year she also competed in the European Cross Country Championships, where she finished 30th overall.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Collins Kurui, New Mexico Highlands

Junior | Iten, Kenya

Junior Collins Kurui got out to a solid start to his penultimate collegiate season, as the native of Iten, Kenya, posted the top collegiate finish at the UNM Lobo Cross Country Invitational (5K) this past weekend, running a time of 15:24.4. He was only bested by an unattached athlete on the day.

In the field of 35, 21 were NCAA Division I level athletes from the likes of UTEP, New Mexico, Fresno State and New Mexico State.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Caroline Kurgat, Alaska Anchorage

Senior | Eldoret, Kenya

Competing against NCAA Division I cross country powerhouse San Francisco didn’t seem to deter Caroline Kurgat from having a solid debut to the 2017 season. The senior from Eldoret, Kenya finished fifth out of 51 at the USF Invitational (6K) as the top NCAA Division II competitor at the meet.

Kurgat’s time of 21:39.3 helped Alaska Anchorage average a finish of 23.09, higher than NCAA Division I teams put together from California and Santa Clara.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Mark Fairley, Central College

Senior | Dubuque, Iowa

Mark Fairley made his final home meet count in a big way.

Fairley won the Central Dutch Invitational by 42 seconds over the closest competitor. He covered the 6K course in 19:59.2, an average of 5:21.6 per mile.

A few months ago Fairley finished runner-up in the steeplechase at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships. His best finish at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships is 61st, a mark he could definitely improve on in 2017.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Clare Schoen, Misericordia

Junior | Scranton, Pennsylvania

Clare Schoen had quite the debut to the 2017 cross country season.

Schoen, a junior from Scranton, Pennsylvania, won the Misericordia Invitational with a time of 15:08. She beat the runner-up by 10 seconds and helped the Cougars to the team title.

Last year Schoen finished fourth at her season-opening meet, a place she’d replicate once again the following week. Schoen already has a win under her belt in 2017 and will be looking to build on that as the season progresses.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Karim Achengli, Iowa Central CC

Sophomore | Adra, Spain

The only NJCAA team entered in the Hawkeye Invitational (6K), Iowa Central CC bested five NCAA Division I programs, thanks in large part to Karim Achengli’s performance.

The sophomore from Adra, Spain finished second in a field of 77 with a time of 17:50.1 to lead the Tritons to victories over Iowa, Illinois State, Drake, Northern Iowa and Creighton. Only Festus Lagat of Iowa State bettered Achengli on the day, and not by much as Achengli was just 0.9 behind the leader.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Adva Cohen, Iowa Central CC

Freshman | Jerusalem, Isreal

Talk about a debut.

Iowa Central CC’s Adva Cohen burst onto the scene in her first collegiate cross country race at the Hawkeye Invitational (4K) with a runner-up finish of 13:50.1. In a field that featured 61 athletes – 53 of which came from the NCAA Division I level – Cohen’s outing helped the Titans claim wins over Drake and Illinois State.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Aaron Kennelley, Columbus State CC

Freshman | Circleville, Ohio

Aaron Kennelley got his collegiate career off to the right start, as the rookie from Circleville, Ohio was Columbus State CC’s top finisher at the Wittenberg Invitational that pitted the Cougar’s up against mostly NCAA Division III and NAIA talent.

Kennelley recorded a finish of 17:47.6.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Elizabeth Finley, Columbus State CC

Sophomore | Galloway, Ohio

Like her teammate Aaron Kennelley, Elizabeth Finley paced Columbus Sat CC at the Wittenberg Invitational over the weekend. The sophomore from Galloway, Ohio wrapped up the meet with a time of 23:31.9.

Finley finished ahead of over 20 competitors from the NCAA Division III and NAIA levels.