NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (October 16)

NEW ORLEANS – The postseason is right around the corner and judging by how fast our National Athletes of the Week ran this past weekend, they’re going to catch up to it pretty quickly.

Here are those 10 athletes who were named National Athlete of the Week on Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

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 – Justyn Knight, Syracuse

Senior | Vaughan, Ontario, Canada

Like the veteran, championship racer he is, Justyn Knight bided his time at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational this past weekend. With that being the fourth time he competed on that same 8K tract in his collegiate career, he knew when to make his move.

That’s exactly what Knight did as he outkicked Stanford’s Grant Fisher down the homestretch and won in his season debut. Knight crossed the finish line in 23:38.9, two-tenths of a second ahead of the also-debuting Fisher.

This was the second year in a row that Knight won the individual title in Madison, Wisconsin, making him the second man in meet history to do so (Arizona’s Lawi Lalang was the other).

Syracuse held Knight out of the first two meets of the season as he recovered from the 2017 IAAF World Championships, where he finished ninth in the 5,000-meter final.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Ednah Kurgat, New Mexico

Sophomore | Eldoret, Kenya

Nothing can slow down Ednah Kurgat, especially not the talented field at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational this past weekend.

Kurgat romped to her second win in a row as she covered the 6K tract in Madison, Wisconsin in 19:23.2. It appeared as if the course record of 19:19 set by Boise State’s Allie Ostrander in 2015 would be in danger, but Kurgat finished four seconds shy of that mark.

During the race Kurgat was one of 10 people with a share of the lead at 2K. Kurgat then opened up a nine-second lead at 4K and eventually won by 16 seconds over Utah’s Grayson Murphy.

Three weeks ago Kurgat nabbed the individual title at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Jereamy Hall, Mount Olive

Junior | Waldorf, Maryland

Jereamy Hall had a solid weekend at the Queen City Invitational this past weekend, finishing second overall with a personal-best time of 24:13.

The junior from Waldorf, Maryland finished just three seconds behind an NCAA Division I runner from Davidson to help his team capture the championship at the meet. Mount Olive defeated 11 teams, including five NCAA Division I programs. Hall’s time over the weekend is good for fourth in the Mount Olive record books.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Leah Hanle, Mount Olive

Sophomore | Lichtenstein, Germany

Leah Hanle is no stranger to this weekly honor and if she continues to run like this, expect to hear her name more often.

The sophomore from Germany finished second overall at the Queen City Invitational with a time of 16:56 – shattering her own school record of 17:37 – as the highest-placing NCAA Division II runner on the women’s side. In a field that featured 104 athletes, Hanle helped her team finish ahead of 11 teams, including four from the NCAA Division I level.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Isaac Garcia-Cassani, SUNY Geneseo

Senior | Holbrook, New York

Isaac Garcia-Cassani might be the prohibitive favorite to win the men’s individual title at the 2017 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships after his performance this past weekend.

Garcia-Cassani topped a talented field to win the Cowbell Classic hosted by Principia College, which served as the Pre-National Invitational. Runners from nearly half of the teams in the top 35 of the most recent National Coaches’ Poll took part. Garcia-Cassani crossed the finish line in 24:41.1.

It was the second win of the season for Garcia-Cassani. He also nabbed the individual title at the Purple Valley Classic on September 23 and was named National Athlete of the Week for the first time in 2017 the following Monday.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Taryn Coradni, Ithaca

Junior | Douglas, Massachusetts

Taryn Cordani delivered another sensational performance this past weekend.

Cordani romped to the individual title at the Cowbell Classic hosted by Principia College, which served as the Pre-National Invitational. She gapped the field early on and eventually won by 37 seconds over Chicago’s Khia Kurtenbach. Cordani posted a finishing time of 20:45.5.

Just a few weeks ago, Cordani hung tough in the NCAA Division I race at the Paul Short Run. Cordani placed 10th and would have been the second runner on all but three of the 42 teams that competed, including meet champion Utah State.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Karim Achengli, Iowa Central CC

Sophomore | Adra, Spain

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Karim Achengli dominated.

The sophomore from Adra, Spain picked up his fourth National Athlete of the Week honor of the season after winning the UW La Crosse Jim Drews/Tori Neubauer Invitational with a time of 24:35.7. Achengli led a pack of 357 runners, with most coming from the NCAA Division III level. Achengli and his squad from Iowa Central CC ran away with the team title, scoring a meager 25 points.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Adva Cohen, Iowa Central CC

Freshman | Jerusalem, Israel

Adva Cohen is another familiar name when it comes to National Athlete of the Week. The freshman from Jerusalem, Israel has been a regular here after her outstanding performances on the cross country circuit, and this past weekend was no exception.

Cohen, like her male counterpart, won the UW La Crosse Jim Drews/Tori Neubauer Invitational with a time of 21:23.8, which was a good 40 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. With nearly 300 women competing, Cohen not only won the individual title, but also led her squad to a team title.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Humberto Wallace, Kingsborough (N.Y.) CC

Freshman | Brooklyn, New York

Humberto Wallace has had himself a nice freshman campaign, and he added to his accomplishments this past weekend at the St. Joseph’s College Invitational. It was there that the freshman from Brooklyn was the second-best collegiate finisher at 27:36.5. Wallace was just a few seconds behind an NCAA Division I competitor from Fordham. Wallace’s second-place finish helped his team come in fourth place out of 21.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Abbey Starks, Howard (Md.) CC

Freshman | Marriottsville, Maryland

Abbey Starks finished second at the Hood College Open against a field comprised mostly of NCAA Division III athletes. The rookie out of Marriottsville, Maryland posted a time of 23:50.3 for a runner-up finish in a race that featured nearly 130 competitors.