2017 NCAA Division II Cross Country National Award Winners
NEW ORLEANS – National Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the 2017 NCAA Division II Cross Country season were announced Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) following the national championship meets in Evansville, Indiana this past weekend.
James Ngandu of Tiffin and Caroline Kurgat of Alaska Anchorage were honored with the Doug Watts Award (Men’s Athlete of the Year) and the Doris Brown Heritage Award (Women’s Athlete of the Year) respectively. The duo won their respective races at the Angel Mounds this past Saturday.
Damon Martin of Adams State swept the coaching awards, picking up the Joe Vigil Award (Men’s Coach of the Year) and the Duane Vandenbusche Award (Women’s Coach of the Year) after his Grizzlies became the first program since 2009 to win both the men’s and women’s NCAA Division II Cross Country Championship team titles.
Scroll below for more information on each of the four award winners.
James Ngandu, Tiffin
James Ngandu absolutely dominated a strong field at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships.
The product out of Nairobi, Kenya, posted a time of 30:18.8 to defeat his nearest competitor by a whopping 34 seconds while leading the entire race.
The win in Indiana capped an undefeated season for the senior, as he won all six meets in which he competed in 2017, including the GLIAC Championship and the Midwest Regional.
After finishing in third at the 2016 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships a year ago, Ngandu did what he needed to do this year to fill the last spot in his trophy case.
Ngandu is the first runner from Tiffin to win this honor, while also becoming the first Dragon to ever win a national postseason honor from the USTFCCCA for their work on the cross country circuit.
Caroline Kurgat, Alaska Anchorage
Caroline Kurgat was nearly unstoppable this year.
After a tune-up at the University of San Francisco Invitational – where she finished fifth behind four NCAA Division I runners – the native of Eldoret, Kenya went on a tear. The senior rattled off four-straight wins in convincing fashion, capitalized by the first-ever national championship performance by an Alaska Anchorage cross country female athlete.
Kurgat blew through the competition in Indiana, making her charge to the head of the pack between the 2,000-3,000 meter mark on her way to winning by nearly 30 seconds. Like Ngandu, Kurgat finished third a year ago.
This is the first time in the history of the Alaska Anchorage track & field/cross country program that a female athlete garnered a postseason award from the USTFCCCA.
Damon Martin, Adams State
Damon Martin is no stranger to this award. Then again, Adams State is no stranger to winning a national championship.
This is the ninth time Martin has won this award, as well as his second-year in a row, thanks in large part to his men’s team taking home the NCAA Division II Cross Country team title in grand fashion this past weekend.
The Grizzlies defeated Grand Valley State by a score of 44-64 after all five Adams State scorers finished within the top-17.
Martin’s men also took home the South Central Region team title, beating Colorado Mines, 35-38.
Damon Martin, Adams State
Do not adjust your monitor; Damon Martin is just that good.
The Adams State women also won a national title this past weekend under Martin’s watch, becoming the first NCAA Division II team to sweep the championships since 2009. It’s no surprise that Martin’s teams were the ones to accomplish that feat eight years ago.
The women of Adams State saw four of its five top-scorers finish in the top-50 in Indiana this past weekend on its way to a victory over U-Mary, 126-137.
At the RMAC Championships, the Grizzly women dominated, with the top-four crossing the finish line donning the green and white. Adams State won with a meager 22 points at that competition. They followed that up with an astounding performance at the South Central Regional with a 26-82 win over runner-up Colorado Mines. The top-three finishers in that race were from Martin’s roster.
This is the 13th time Martin has won this award.