NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (October 8)

NEW ORLEANS – With the postseason rapidly approaching, athletes are picking up the pace across the nation.

Here are 10 athletes (five men and five women) who caught the eye of the USTFCCCA Communications Staff this past weekend and were named National Athletes of the Week on Monday by the Association.

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 – Clayton Young, BYU

Senior | American Fork, Utah

Clayton Young debuted in a big way this past weekend.

The senior from American Fork, Utah, rolled to the individual title at the Steven Reeder Memorial Invitational. He covered the 7K course in 21:04.6 to beat teammate Dallin Farnsworth by 10 seconds and lead No. 2 BYU to a perfect score.

Young had a breakthrough junior campaign on the track, where he PR’d in both the 5000 (13:37.60) and 10,000 (28:27.48) and double qualified for the NCAA Championships.

Remarkably, this is the first National Athlete of the Week honor in the storied history of the BYU men’s program.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Kate Hunter, BYU

Sophomore | Provo, Utah

The largest congregation of ranked teams in the most recent NCAA Division I Women’s National Coaches’ Poll was at the Steven Reeder Memorial Invitational this past weekend with No. 9 BYU, No. 20 Utah State and No. 27 Utah. It was ultimately the Cougars who came away with the win as Kate Hunter’s individual victory propelled them to the top of the podium.

Hunter finished the 5K distance in 18:10.2, two seconds better than runner-up Shannon Maloney from Utah State. This was the first win of Hunter’s collegiate career.

Remarkably, this is the first National Athlete of the Week honor in the storied history of the BYU women’s program.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Austin Nolan, Southern Indiana

Junior | Evansville, Indiana

Austin Nolan was named a National Athlete of the Week after he won the Lewis University Conference Cross-Over this past weekend.

The junior posted a time of 24:33.8 to take the individual title on the 8K course in a race that saw nine teams compete that were ranked in the most recent National Coaches’ Poll.

Nolan became the third cross country athlete honored with the award in Southern Indiana history joining Johnnie Guy and Emily Roberts who were each selected in 2015.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Sophie Seward, Western State

Senior | Marion, Indiana

Sophie Seward earned a National Athlete of the Week selection after she won her third race in a row this season at Lewis University Conference Cross-Over this past weekend.

The senior took home the title with a 21:39.0 performance on the 6K course and has now gone a perfect 3-for-3 at meets this year. She also was the top finisher at the Mountaineer-Cowboy Open and the 25th Annual Joe I. Vigil Open XC Meet.

Seward is the second cross country athlete (first female) honored as a National Athlete of the Week in program history.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Otto Kingstedt, RIT

Senior | Stockholm, Sweden

Otto Kingstedt must be a mudder. We already know he’s a winner.

The senior from Stockholm, Sweden, romped to the individual title in deteriorating conditions at the Highlander Invitational this past weekend. He covered the muddy 8K tract in 26:15.6, 58 seconds ahead of the runner-up finisher to lead No. 27 RIT to the team title over No. 13 SUNY Geneseo.

This was Kingstedt’s third win in as many races. He also captured individual titles at the Short Course Twilight and the Bill Fritz Invitational.

Kingstedt isn’t a stranger to being named National Athlete of the Week in cross country. He earned his first honor last year on October 9.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Natalie Bettez, Tufts

Senior | Bolton, Massachusetts

Natalie Bettez had so much fun being a National Athlete of the Week earlier this season that she came back for more.

Running this past weekend in historic Franklin Park, Bettez notched a huge individual win as she beat 167 other runners from all three NCAA divisions at the All-New England (NEICAAA) Championships. Bettez crossed the finish line in 17:59.9, four seconds ahead of Fian Sullivan Sweeney from NCAA DI Boston College and 25 seconds better than the time she ran on the same course last year.

This was Bettez’s third win in as many races. She won the Super XC Shootout to open the season and then nabbed the individual title at the heralded Purple Valley Classic, for which she won her first National Athlete of the Week honor.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Andrew Kibet, Hutchinson CC

Freshman | Eldoret, Kenya

Andrew Kibet picked up his second National Athlete of the Week selection of the season after he won the ESU Invitational this past weekend.

The freshman posted a time of 26:09.3 on the 8K course.

While it is his second award of the year, Kibet is still the only cross country athlete in program history to be honored.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Katherine Bruno, Pima CC

Sophomore | Tucson, Arizona

Katherine Bruno is a National Athlete of the Week after she won the Mesa Thunderbird Classic.

She posted a mark of 18:09.4 to collect the individual crown on the 5K course.

Bruno is the only athlete from Pima CC to earn a National Athlete of the Week award in program history. The sophomore also collect the honor during the 2017 cross country season.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Mike Dowd, Rowan-Gloucester College

Sophomore | Williamstown, New Jersey

Mike Dowd was selected as a National Athlete of the Week after he finished as the top JUCO runner at the DeSales Invitational this past weekend.

The sophomore posted a mark of 27:02 and was the only JUCO award winner at the meet where he finished 25th overall.

The latest award is the seventh National Athlete of the Week honor earned in program history and the second for Dowd in his career.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Rachel Temple, Harper College

Sophomore | Grant, Illinois

Rachel Temple is a National Athlete of the Week after she finished eighth overall at the Benedictine Eagle Invite over the weekend.

Her time of 23:38.8 was the top mark for a JUCO athlete.

This is the third time this season the Harper women have won the award and the 14th Athlete of the Week honor in school history.