NCAA DI National Award Winners For 2018 Outdoor Season
NEW ORLEANS – National Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the 2018 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field season were announced Wednesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
These awards were voted on by USTFCCCA member coaches based on performances both at this past weekend’s NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, as well as performances throughout the entire regular season.
Information on each of the winners can be found below.
National Athletes of the Year
MEN’S TRACK – Michael Norman, Southern California
There is fast. Then there is Michael Norman fast. Norman, a sophomore from Murrieta, California, clocked a collegiate-record, title-winning, 400-meter time of 43.61 this past weekend at NCAAs and split 43.62 on the anchor leg of the record-setting 4×400 relay just a few weeks after a split of 43.06 at the NCAA West Preliminary Round which is the second fastest split in world history. Norman also went undefeated in both the 200 and 400 throughout the season and became just the third man in Pac-12 history to sweep those events at the conference championships.
Norman is the first Southern California athlete to be named Men’s National Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year since Andre De Grasse in 2015.
WOMEN’S TRACK – Aleia Hobbs, LSU
Aleia Hobbs was historically quick in 2018. Hobbs went undefeated in the 100 during the outdoor season and notched five sub-11 second wind-legal times – four of which sit in the top-7 of the collegiate record book. It was in Eugene, Oregon, where Hobbs clocked a time of 10.91 in the semifinals, then won the NCAA title with the quickest 100 into a headwind in collegiate history (11.01). All of this isn’t even accounting for what she helped LSU do in the 4×100 relay. With Hobbs on the anchor, the Tigers ripped off three of the fastest times in collegiate history, including a collegiate record of 42.05 at the SEC Championships.
Hobbs is the first LSU athlete to be named Women’s National Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year since Kimberlyn Duncan in 2012.
MEN’S FIELD – Denzel Comenentia, Georgia
Denzel Comenentia doubled up in a big way at NCAAs. Comenentia became just the third man in NCAA DI history – first since 2008 – to sweep the hammer and shot put titles at the same NCAA meet. The junior from Amsterdam, Netherlands, kicked off his winning ways in the hammer when he hurled the implement 76.41m (250-8) and became the 10th best performer in collegiate history. Comenentia added the shot put title to his tally later in the night when he took the lead for good on his fifth attempt of 20.61m (67-7½). At the SEC Championships, Comenentia won the shot put and hammer, while also finishing sixth in the discus.
Comenentia is the first athlete from Georgia to be named the Men’s National Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year.
CO-WOMEN’S FIELD – Maggie Ewen, Arizona State & Keturah Orji, Georgia
Maggie Ewen and Keturah Orji capped their incredible senior years by making history at the NCAA meet this past weekend.
Ewen became just the fifth woman in NCAA DI history win both the shot put and discus titles. The senior from St. Francis, Minnesota, dominated the shot put competition and captured the discus title on her final attempt. Ewen left her name all over the record book during the outdoor season. She bettered her own collegiate record in the hammer to 74.53m (244-6), broke Raven Saunders’ record in the shot put with a heave of 19.46m (63-10¼) and ended the season with seven of the top-10 all-time marks in the shot put and five of the top-8 marks in the hammer.
Orji became just the third woman in NCAA DI history to sweep the horizontal jump titles and completed an undefeated season in each event. Earlier in the year Orji bettered her own collegiate record in the triple jump to 14.62m (47-11¾) and added two more top-6 marks to her ledger in the event. Orji barely missed the all-time top-10 chart in the long jump when she soared 6.81m (22-4¼) at the SEC Championships.
Ewen and Orji are the first athletes to split the vote for Women’s National Field Athlete of the Year since Jenny Dahlgren and Jacquelyn Johnson in 2006. Ewen won singularly in 2017, while Orji did as well in 2016.
National Coaches of the Year
MEN’S COACH – Petros Kyprianou, Georgia
Georgia only brought 10 entries to the NCAA meet, but scored 52 points with them for the first national title in program history. The Bulldogs, led by Petros Kyprianou, scored in four different disciplines and made history in two of those. Denzel Comenentia became just the third man in NCAA DI history to sweep the hammer and shot put at the same NCAA meet, while Karl Saluri and Johannes Erm became the first teammates to finish in the top-3 of the decathlon since 1992.
This is the first time that Kyprianou has been named Men’s National Outdoor Coach of the Year, which couples well with his Women’s National Outdoor Coach of the Year honor from last year.
WOMEN’S COACH – Caryl Smith Gilbert, Southern California
Caryl Smith Gilbert watched the Women of Troy bring home the program’s first NCAA outdoor title since 2001 in dramatic fashion. Southern California needed a victory in the 4×400 relay to overcome Georgia and did exactly that with Kendall Ellis on the anchor leg. The Women of Troy, under Smith Gilbert’s direction, scored in seven events at the NCAA meet and brought home event titles in two of those (200, 4×400). Southern California also won its first Pac-12 crown since 1996 and held its first national No. 1 ranking in the past three years.
This is the first time that Smith Gilbert has been named Women’s National Outdoor Coach of the Year. Smith Gilbert is also the first woman to be named Women’s National Outdoor Coach of the Year since UCLA’s Jeanette Bolden in 2004.
MEN’S ASSISTANT – Quincy Watts, Southern California
Quincy Watts coached Michael Norman and the rest of the 4×400 relay team into the record book. Norman broke the collegiate record in the 400 with his time of 43.61 and anchored the 4×400 relay that lowered the collegiate record to 2:59.00. Watts watched his athletes score 43 of Southern California’s 118 points at the Pac-12 Championships, including Norman’s 200-400 double which was only the third time that has been accomplished in Pac-12 history.
This is the first time that Watts has been named Men’s National Outdoor Assistant Coach of the Year. He is the first assistant coach from Southern California to win the honor since John Henry Johnson in 2013.
WOMEN’S ASSISTANT – Zeb Sion, Stanford
Stanford entered the NCAA meet with 12 entries, of which five belonged to athletes coached by Zeb Sion. When all was said and done in Eugene, Oregon, those athletes scored 31 of the team’s 51 points and the Cardinal finished third in the team standings. Sion guided Mackenzie Little and Jenna Gray to the first 1-2 sweep of the javelin in NCAA DI women’s history, Valarie Allman to third place in the discus and eighth place in the hammer and Lena Giger to third place in the shot put. Sion’s athletes also scored 42 of Stanford’s 119 points at the Pac-12 Championships.
This is the first time that Sion has been named Women’s National Outdoor Assistant Coach of the Year. He is also the first coach from Stanford to win this honor.