NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (Sept. 17)

NEW ORLEANS – Another exciting week of cross country came and went. With it, there were a number of strong performances turned in by athletes.

Here are 10 performances that caught the attention of the USTFCCCA National Office. Thus, they were named National Athletes of the Week in NCAA Cross Country and NJCAA Cross Country on Tuesday.

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 – Azaria Kirwa, Liberty

Senior | Eldoret, Kenya

Azaria Kirwa turned on the jets at the Iona Paddy Doyle Meet of Champions this past weekend and captured his second individual title in a row in the early goings of the season. Kirwa crossed the finish line in 25:01.0, two seconds ahead of Iona’s Jamie Dee.

Last week Kirwa broke through at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships when he finished 25th overall. That came one week after he finished third in the Southeast Region.

Kirwa is the first athlete from Liberty to be named National Athlete of the Week in cross country in program history.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Dorcas Wasike, Louisville

Junior | Kitale, Kenya

Remember the name Dorcas Wasike come November.

Wasike continues to build off an incredible season on the outdoor track with her second win in a row on the cross country circuit. She cruised to an individual victory at the Commodore Classic hosted by Vanderbilt in a time of 17:09.4.

This past June, Wasike finished runner-up to Sharon Lokedi in the 10,000 at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. That was the biggest achievement of her career thus far as she was also ACC champion and picked up the individual title at the Raleigh Relays.

Wasike is the first athlete from Louisville to be named National Athlete of the Week in cross country in program history.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Jacob Klemz, Washburn

Junior | Topeka, Kansas

Jacob Klemz earned the National Athlete of the Week honor after he picked up the individual title at the Missouri Southern Southern Stampede this past weekend with a 24.45.4 performance on the 8K course.

The junior finished first of 277 runners that included a field of Division I and II athletes and some of the top-ranked programs in his division. He also beat a former National Athlete of the Week winner in Mason Phillips, who finished eighth at the meet for Sioux Falls.

It was the second individual win in a row for Klemz to open the season and the first National Athlete of the Week honor for Washburn in program history.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Sarah Berger, Grand Valley State

Graduate Student | Wadsworth, Ohio

Sarah Berger collected the National Athlete of of the Week after she finished fifth overall at the Michigan State Spartan Invitational this past weekend.

The graduate student posted a time of 21:41.8 on the 6K course to finish as the top Division II runner in the field. She helped her team to a second-place finish, trailing the winner No. 15 Michigan State by 28 points.

Berger is the third female and fourth athlete overall from Grand Valley State to be named a National Athlete of the Week during cross country.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Dhruvil Patel, North Central (Ill.)

Senior | Skokie, Illinois

Dhruvil Patel turned in his second dominant performance in as many weeks.

This past weekend at the Illinois State Cross Country Invitational, Patel topped a field that featured athletes from five different NCAA DI programs by 12 seconds. Patel covered the 8K tract in 24.57.0, which is a personal best for him at that distance.

Two weeks ago, Patel captured the individual title at the Elmhurst College Earlybird Invitational when he won by six seconds.

Patel is the second male athlete from North Central (Ill.) to be named National Athlete of the Week in cross country. He joins Troy Kelleher, who was named National Athlete of the Week on October 27, 2014.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Sam Slattery, UW-Eau Claire

Junior | Waunakee, Wisconsin

Sam Slattery took care of business this past weekend at the Augsburg Invitational.

Running against a primarily NCAA Division III field with several ranked teams in attendance, Slattery won by nearly 16 seconds. Slattery covered the 6K tract in 23:32.7.

Slattery is hoping to build on a sophomore year that saw her place 15th overall at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships and ninth in the 10,000 at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

She is the first female athlete from UW-Eau Claire to be named National Athlete of the Week in cross country.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Dennis Kiptoo, Cloud County CC

Freshman | Eldoret, Kenya

Dennis Kiptoo is your National Athlete of the Week for the second week in a row after he finished second overall at the Woody Greeno/Jay Dirksen Invitational with a 24:25.7 performance for the 8K course.

The meet included squads from Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, among others.

Kiptoo is just the second athlete from Cloud County CC to win a National Athlete of the Week Award in cross country (Moses Dirane did so four times in 2016).

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Gladys Jermaiyo, South Plains College

Freshman | Kenya

Gladys Jermaiyo got the nod for the National Athlete of the Week after she finished fourth overall with a 17:56.5 showing over the 5K course at the Texas Tech Open.

It was the second individual win in as many tries for Jermaiyo this season and the first National Athlete of the Week award received for an athlete in South Plains program history.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Michael Sisko, Harper College

Sophomore | Elgin, Illinois

Michael Sisko picked up the National Athlete of the Week award after he finished fourth overall at the Forest College Invite with a time of 27:38.2 for the 8K course.

Sisko helped led his team to a second-place finish against a field that included all four-year colleges and universities except for Harper College.

It is the second week in a row that a Harper athlete has won the award. Sisko becomes the fourth male to receive a National Athlete of the Week honor in cross country for Harper.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Tyesha James, Kingsborough CC

Sophomore | Brooklyn, New York

Tyesha Jame picked up the National Athlete of the Week award with a fifth-place showing at the Queensborough Invitational.

The sophomore covered the 5K field in 21:50.8 and finished fifth out of 167 competing athletes.

It is the just the third National Athlete of the Week honor overall for Kinsborough CC during the cross country season and James is the only female athlete from the program to earn the award after she picked up the honor once during the 2017 season.