NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (February 20)

NEW ORLEANS – The postseason is coming up across the nation and athletes appear ready for it.

Not much has slowed down the athletes on the track or stopped them from hitting huge marks in the field.

As a matter of fact, these eight athletes stood out from amongst their peers this past weekend and were named National Athletes of the Week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Tuesday.

Find out more about these athletes 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 eight collegiate indoor track & field athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions and NJCAA Division I).

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 – Chris Nilsen, South Dakota

Sophomore | Pole Vault
Kansas City, Missouri

Chris Nilsen kept raising the bar this past weekend at the Nebraska Tune-Up.

By the time the sophomore standout was done in the pole vault, he set an all-conditions PR of 5.80m (19-0¼) and moved into a tie for ninth on the all-time top-10 in the event.

Nilsen entered the event at 5.35m (17-6½), promptly cleared it on his first attempt to earn the win and took the runway again on every third height (5.50m, 5.60m, 5.71m).

After a second-attempt clear of 5.71m (18-8¾), Nilsen moved the bar to 5.80m. A first-attempt miss showed him the way and on his second try, Nilsen went up and over with ease.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Annette Echikunwoke, Cincinnati

Senior | Throws
Pickerington, Ohio

Annette Echikunwoke had been knocking on the door of the all-time top-10 in the weight throw for quite some time. She grew tired of waiting and kicked it in this past weekend.

Echikunwoke launched the implement 24.78m (81-3¾) and moved into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time collegiate chart. That was the best collegiate throw by a woman since 2008 and was one of three attempts that sailed more than 23 meters.

If you’re wondering how the all-time top-10 looks now, Echikunwoke broke a bit of a logjam. Here’s how it reads: Brittany Riley, Brittany Riley, Brittany Riley, Annette Echikunwoke, Brittany Riley, Brittany Riley, Brittany Riley, Brittany Riley, Brittany Riley and Brittany Riley.

Chances are Echikunwoke will add her name to that list once again before the year is over.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Juan Scott, Central State

Sophomore | Hurdles
Dayton, Ohio

There’s no one better in the 60 hurdles at the NCAA Division II level than Juan Scott this year.

The sophomore from Dayton, Ohio, posted a blistering 7.82 in the event at the Ohio State University Buckeye Tune-Up this past weekend, hitting an NCAA Division II Automatic Qualifying Mark for the fourth time this season while also picking up the event title in Columbus, Ohio. Scott defeated athletes from NCAA Division I programs.

Scott’s time was the third-fastest in the nation this past weekend, behind only Larry Donald of Arkansas, and on the year, his mark sits tied for 23rd on the All-College Descending Order List.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Danielle Kohlwey, Minnesota-Duluth

Junior | Hurdles
Onalaska, Wisconsin

There were only a handful of NCAA Division II Automatic Qualifying Marks hit by women this past weekend, but Danielle Kohlwey got one of the more impressive ones.

The junior out of Onalaska, Wisconsin, ran an 8.37 in the 60 hurdles at the Maverick Invite, putting her second on the NCAA Division II Descending Order List this year. This weekend’s performance was the second time this year that Kohlwey reached the NCAA Division II Automatic Qualifying Mark threshold.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Jordan Johnson, Benedictine (Ill.)

Junior | Sprints
Tucker, Georgia

Jordan Johnson is hitting his stride at the perfect time of the season.

With three weeks to go until NCAAs, Johnson recorded the top marks in the nation in both the 60 and 200 at the F. Lee Slick Invitational and has been named National Athlete of the Week for the second time this season.

Johnson is tied for the No. 1 spot in the 60 with Ausburg’s Emmanuel Egbujor, who also clocked a time of 6.79 this past weekend. It was a big win for Johnson as he won by .16 seconds.

Then later in the meet, Johnson ripped around the track in 21.52. That pushed him ahead of UW-La Crosse’s Ernest Winters on the Descending Order List by .01 seconds.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Emily Richards, Ohio Northern

Senior | Mid-Distance
Delaware, Ohio

Stop us if you heard the name Emily Richards before.

OK. We’ll stop.

Richards took aim at the NCAA DIII record book once again this past weekend, but this time in the mile – not the 800 or 3000, like she had done earlier this season.

The senior from Delaware, Ohio traversed eight laps of the new track at the University of Michigan in 4:46.11 and beat six NCAA DI runners from Michigan in the process. That time also left Richards sixth all-time in NCAA DIII history, pushing Emily Bryson of Brandeis out of the way (who ran 4:46.63 just one week earlier).

Richards is now the top-ranked woman in NCAA DIII this season in the 800, mile and 3000.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Emmanuel Yeboah, Western Texas College

Freshman | Sprints

Looking for the man who ran the fastest 60 time in the nation this past weekend? Look no further.

Emmanuel Yeboah of Western Texas College was untouchable this week, as the freshman from Ghana posted a 6.62 at the Texas Tech Matador Qualifier against NCAA Division I competition that ties him for the lead in the NJCAA this season. However, it was literally the fastest time run by any competitor this past week across all divisions.

On the season, his mark is now tied for 15th on the All-College Descending Order List. 

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Gabbreil Harris, Cloud County CC

Sophomore | Throws
Erial, New Jersey

Gabbreil Harris won the 2018 Region VI Indoor Championship in the weight throw with a mark that puts her atop the NJCAA Descending Order List.

The sophomore from Erial, New Jersey, recorded a throw of 18.42m (60-5¼) to take home the title, while also distancing herself from the nearest NJCAA competitor by almost a quarter of a meter.

Harris also won the shot put title at the meet, posting a mark of 12.58m (41-3¼).