NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (September 4)

NEW ORLEANS – Cross country is back!

That also means that so is National Athlete of the Week.

Here are the eight athletes who were named National Athlete of the Week on Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

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 – Garrett Corcoran, California

Senior | Villa Park, California

Garrett Corcoran is ready to make the most of his final cross country season.

Corcoran, a senior from Villa Park, California, opened the 2018 campaign at the University of San Francisco Invitational this weekend and posted his first win on the grass circuit. Going up against athletes from Stanford, Santa Clara and San Francisco, among others, Corcoran crossed the finish line of the 8K course in 24:31.2, nearly five seconds ahead of the runner-up.

Last year Corcoran earned All-Region honors in the super competitive West Region when he finished 15th overall. He later finished 140th at NCAAs. There is no doubt Corcoran is hoping to improve upon both of those showings in 2018.

Corcoran is the first California Golden Bear to be named National Athlete of the Week in cross country.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Jaci Smith, Air Force

Senior | Edmond, Oklahoma

Jaci Smith ran away from the pack en route to her first cross country win.

Smith, a senior from Edmond, Oklahoma, captured the individual title this past weekend at the Wyoming Invitational with a time of 17:58.5 over the 5K course. She won by nearly 13 seconds over a field that included athletes from Colorado and Colorado State, among others.

It wasn’t too long ago that Smith opened a bunch of eyes on the track circuit. Smith capped her junior year with a First-Team All-America effort in the 10,000 at the NCAA Championships this past June, which came after she PR’d at the NCAA West Preliminary Round in the same event with a time of 32:28.15.

Smith is the second female athlete from Air Force to be named National Athlete of the Week. She joins Hannah Everson, who earned the honor in the first week of the 2015 season.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Mason Phillips, Sioux Falls

Redshirt Junior / Bailey, Colorado

For the second consecutive season, Mason Philips won the Augustana Twilight individual title as he helped Sioux Falls to a second-place finish against a field that included NCAA Division I programs Nebraska, Creighton and South Dakota, along with NSIC Preseason favorite and host Augustana at Yankton Trails Park this past weekend.

Phillips, a NSIC Preseason Athlete of the Year selection, recorded a time of 21:14.12 for the 7K course. He finished more than 12 seconds faster than the runner-up.

The redshirt junior is looking to build on strong sophomore campaign that ended with a 15th-place showing at the NCAA Championships last year.

This is the second time that Phillips has been named National Athlete of the Week in cross country (September 25, 2017).

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Kayla Wooten, UC-Colorado Springs

Junior / Oswego, Illinois

Kayla Wooten set a new course record as she took the individual crown at the 11th annual UCCS Rust Buster Invitational at Monument Valley Park on Saturday.

Wooten led all runners in the 5K race with an 18:13.6 performance as she helped her team to a victory to open the season. The individual victory comes after she finished second at the same meet a year ago and showed over a 50-second improvement from last season.

Wooten is the first athlete from UCCS to earn a National Athlete of the Week award.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Langston Gash, Stevenson

Senior | Edgewood, Maryland

Langston Gash made quick work of the Mustang Stampede this past weekend.

Gash, a senior from Edgewood, Maryland won the 4K race with a time of 12:37.97. That was a near 15-second win for Gash, who had one other career XC win to his credit from back in 2016.

He has been improving each year and this could be his best one yet. Gash is a two-time All-Region honoree and was one of two individuals from Stevenson to qualify for NCAAs last year (He finished 161st overall).

Gash is the first athlete from Stevenson to be named National Athlete of the Week in cross country.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Clare Schoen, Misericordia

Senior | Scranton, Pennsylvania

No one had an answer for Clare Schoen this past weekend at the Misericordia Invitational.

Schoen opened the 2018 season with a resounding win. The senior from Scranton, Pennsylvania, left the rest of the competitors in the dust and won by nearly 43 seconds.

This was her second win in a row at the Misericordia Invitational and her third career win on the cross country circuit. Schoen, who earned All-Region honors last year in cross country after she placed ninth overall, hopes to work her way up the pack and contend for the win this year.

Fun fact: This marks the second year in a row that Schoen was named National Athlete of the Week to begin the cross country season.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Andrew Kibet, Hutchinson Community College

Freshman / Eldoret, Kenya

Andrew Kibet won the individual title at the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic at the Fun Valley Sports Complex this past weekend.

Kibet paced the field with a 19:32.6 showing for the four-mile course and recorded the best mark of the day by six seconds. He helped Hutchinson CC to a team victory in the event as well with his performance.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Aminata Kenyawani, Pratt Community College

Sophomore / Tucson, Arizona

Aminata Kenyawani took the individual title at the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic at the Fun Valley Sports Complex this past weekend.

Kenyawani outlasted Lisyo Ewoi of Hutchinson Community College by less than one second in what was a great battle to the finish. The sophomore from Tucson, Arizona, posted a winning-mark of 18:37.5 for the three-mile course.