NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (October 2)

NEW ORLEANS – If you missed what happened in cross country this past weekend, you missed a lot.

Incredible performances were turned in across the nation from Pennsylvania to Oregon and across all divisions from NCAA Division I to NJCAA Division III.

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

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 – Dillon Maggard, Utah State

Senior | Kirkland, Washington

Dillon Maggard entered the national conversation last year at the 2016 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships when he finished 12th overall and earned All-America honors.

This past weekend Maggard captured his first signature victory and led Utah State to the team title.

Maggard outran 358 other men on his way to the individual title at the Paul Short Run. The junior from Kirkland, Washington crossed the finish line in 23:26.2, four seconds ahead of Liberty’s Azaria Kirwa. Georgetown’s Jonathan Green finished third.

We’ll see Maggard back on the course in two weeks at the NCAA Division I Pre-National Invitational.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Ednah Kurgat, New Mexico

Sophomore | Eldoret, Kenya

Ednah Kurgat transferred to New Mexico from Liberty after a stellar freshman year that saw her earn All-America honors in cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field.

So the Lady Lobos had a good idea of what kind of athlete they were getting in Kurgat, but had to wait one year due to NCAA transfer rules to see her in action.

Well, Kurgat showed no rust this past weekend as she cruised to an individual win at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational. Kurgat covered the 5K tract in 16:01.8 and beat teammate Alice Wright to the finish line by nearly 11 seconds.

The Women’s Blue Division Race was absolutely stacked as there were eight All Americans from the 2016 XC season as well as seven teams that were ranked in the most recent National Coaches’ Poll.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Leakey Kipkosgei, American International

Junior | Kapsabet, Kenya

Leakey Kipkosgei ran extremely well at the Paul Short Run this past weekend.

The junior from Kapsabet, Kenya raced in a field dominated by NCAA Division I athletes and managed to finish fifth out of 359 runners in the highly competitive meet with a time of 23:44.

Kipkosegei raced for just the second time on the season this past weekend and was bested only by athletes from Utah State, Liberty, Georgetown and Georgia Tech.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Colett Rampf, Saint Leo

Senior | Premnitz, Germany

Out of 221 competitors at the Royals XC Challenge, Saint Leo’s Colett Rampf finished first.

The product out of Premnitz, Germany wrapped up the 5K in 17:05, six seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. In the process, the senior smashed her own school record by a whopping 27 seconds, while helping the Lions place third as a team. Rampf also beat former National Athlete of the Week Hannah Wollkenhauer in the process.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Darin Lau, UW-Eau Claire

Senior | Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Darin Lau and Ian LaMere had quite the rivalry going the past two years.

It’s only right that Lau continues it after LaMere graduated.

This past weekend at the Blugold Invitational, Lau shattered the 8K course record previously held by LaMere and Josh Moen by 14 seconds. Lau crossed the finish line in 24:15.0, compared to the 24:29 that LaMere ran in 2015 and Moen 11 years earlier.

Lau has yet to lose this season as he won the season-opening UW-Eau Claire Alumni Meet, the St. Olaf Invitational and now the Blugold Invitational. His next opportunity to add a fourth win to his ledger in 2017 comes October 14 at the NCAA Division III Pre-National Invitational. That meet will also be one of the toughest for Lau this season.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Kaitlyn Mooney, Coast Guard

Freshman | Manahawkin, New Jersey

Remember the name Kaitlyn Mooney come November.

Mooney notched the second win of her collegiate career this past weekend as she crossed the finish line first at the Saratoga Invitational. The freshman from Manahawkin, New Jersey covered the 5K tract in 17:07.5, 18 seconds ahead of Bates’ Katherine Cook.

To put Mooney’s time in perspective, it was just one second slower than what two-time NCAA DIII XC individual champion Amy Regan ran on that same course back in 2014. Regan won her first NCAA XC individual title later that season.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Karim Achengli, Iowa Central CC

Sophomore | Adra, Spain

Karim Achengli continues to dominate.

The sophomore from Iowa Central posted a seventh-place finish at the highly prestigious Oklahoma State Cowboy Jamboree. The native of Adra, Spain finished with a time of 24:46.7 as the only non-NCAA Division I athlete in the top-10 in a race that featured 103 participants.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Winnie Kibet, Colby CC

Sophomore | Eldoret, Kenya

Winnie Kibet had a highly impressive weekend for Colby CC, as the native of Eldoret, Kenya won the Women’s Black (College) Race at the 2017 Cowboy Jamboree. Racing against a number of other athletes from top JUCO programs, the sophomore posted a time of 18:19.2 for the victory in a race of 93 women. Kibet crossed the finish line 30 seconds before the runner-up.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Jake Caruso, Rowan-Gloucester

Sophomore | Berlin, New Jersey

Jake Caruso has been here before, and if he continues to have outings like this past weekend, he’ll be here again. The sophomore from Berlin, New Jersey finished seventh at the 29th Annual Don Cathcart Invitational as the top NJCAA Division III athlete at the meet. With a time of 25:44.65, Caruso crossed the finish line ahead of 107 competitors, most of whom came from the NCAA Division III level.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Misbah Baig, Harper College

Freshman | Hanover Park, Illinois

Misbah Baig doesn’t let the fact that she is a freshman stand in the way of having success on the cross country circuit. The rookie from Hanover Park, Illinois finished 14th at the Illinois Intercollegiate XC Championships amongst a sea of NCAA Division III and NAIA athletes. Baig’s time of 19:13.9 was almost four seconds faster than her nearest competitor, and she finished ahead of 132 other runners.

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