NCAA DII National Award Winners For 2019 Outdoor Season

NEW ORLEANS – National Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the 2019 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field season were announced by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Wednesday.

The awards were voted on by USTFCCCCA member coaches based on performances both at 2019 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships that took place this past weekend in Kingsville, Texas, along with the body of work posted during the regular season.

USTFCCCA National Award History

On the track Zach Panning of Grand Valley State and Caroline Kurgat of Alaska Anchorage took home honors, while the field honors were captured by Eldred Henry of Findlay and Fatim Affessi of West Texas A&M.

For the coaches, Jud Logan of Ashland and Victor Thomas of Lincoln (Mo.) were the selections for National Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year, respectively, while the top assistant awards went to Ernie Clark with his work with the men’s program from Ashland and Asaundra Dalton because of the job she did with the SF State women’s unit.

Information on each of the winners can be found below.

USTFCCCA National Awards are presented by Pro Form Sports.

National Athletes of the Year

Men’s Track – Zach Panning, Grand Valley State

Panning, a redshirt-senior from Fort Wayne, Indiana capped his career in impressive fashion with what he was able to accomplish in his final season of competition. The Laker standout swept the 5000 and 10,000 in Kingsville, Texas, and in doing so, became just the fifth man in NCAA DII history to complete double.

During the regular season, Panning posted the ninth best performance in NCAA DII history with a 13:37.94 in the 5000 at the Bryan Clay Invitational. That came just a few months after he recorded the 11th best performance in NCAA DII history over 10,000 meters with a 28:30.77 to take third overall at the Raleigh Relays.

Panning was also crowned the GLIAC champion in the 5000.

Women’s Track – Caroline Kurgat, Alaska Anchorage

Kurgat, a senior from Eldoret, Kenya, was an easy choice for National Athlete of the Year after she spent the 2019 outdoor season rewriting the record books.

Just this past weekend at the NCAA DII Outdoor Championships, she became just the third woman in NCAA DII history to complete the distance double in back-to-back years as she won individual titles in the 5000 and 10,000.

That enough would have been impressive, but Kurgat isn’t your typical athlete.

She set the NCAA DII record over 10,000 meters with a 32:08.09 against a stacked field of professional and NCAA DI athletes at the Stanford Invitational. She also now ranks third in division history in the 5000 with her 15:40.45 that she posted at the Bryan Clay Invitational to take third overall in the event, behind two NCAA DI athletes.

Kurgat was crowned champion in the 1500, 5000 and 10,000 in the GNAC during outdoors as well, where she set facility and conference meet records in the 1,500 and 5,000.

Men’s Field – Eldred Henry, Findlay

Henry, a junior from the British Virgin Islands, is the Men’s National Field Athlete of the Year after taking over the record books in the shot put this past season. Henry won the outdoor national championship in the event with a never-before-done performance of 21.47m (70-5¼). He was the first athlete to break 70-feet in NCAA DII history and it was the seventh-best heave in the world so far this season.

If you’re counting, Henry posted the No. 1, 4, 7, 12, 14, 15 and 16 (among others!) best marks in the shot in NCAA DII history just this outdoor season.

Women’s Field – Fatim Affessi, West Texas A&M

Affessi, a junior from Geneva, Switzerland, was the choice for Women’s National Field Athlete of the Year after leading the nation across jump events all season. Affessi won the national title in the long jump and placed second overall in the triple at outdoor nationals. During the year she posted a mark tied for the second-best all-conditions performance in the long jump in NCAA DII history (6.68m, 21-11) to go with one of the best all-conditions showings in the triple jump (13.23m, 43-8¾), which ranks in a tied for 12th overall on the all-conditions bests list.

The junior also took first in both events at the Lone Star Outdoor Championships.

National Coaches of the Year

Men’s Head Coach – Jud Logan, Ashland

Logan, in his 25th year overall and 14th as head coach, must have a flair for the dramatic as he team won the men’s team title this past weekend by a single-point, the same margin in which he program captured the indoor title earlier in the year.

His program rallied from a final-day, 29-point deficit to win the title behind a strong effort from two standouts in Trevor Bassitt (Co-High Point Athlete of the Meet; first in 400H, second in 110H and 4×400 relay) and Myles Pringle (first in the 400, second in the 4×400 fourth in the 200 and seventh in the high jump). Thrower Alex Hill was also a big factor as he recorded 11 points across his third-place hammer and fourth-place discus performances.

It is the first men’s or women’s outdoor national honor earned by Logan for his career. He also was named Women’s Indoor Coach of the Year in 2008 and Men’s Indoor Coach of the Year in 2009.

Women’s Head Coach – Victor Thomas, Lincoln (Mo.)

Thomas, in his 17th year at the helm of the program, watched as his athletes went from zero points entering the final day of competition to NCAA DII champs as the Blue Tigers roared back with all 64 of its points on the final day of the meet.

The team won the national titles in the 100 and 200 (Rene Medley), 400 (Kissi-Ann Brown) and both the 4×100 and 4×400 relays to storm back and pull off the comeback victory. Thomas also coached the High Point of the Meet Athlete in Medley as the junior was responsible for 25 points just by herself between the four title-winning performances by the team.

It was the second consecutive outdoor title earned by Thomas and his program and the ninth outdoor championship overall in school history.

Thomas has now been named the Women’s Head Coach of the Year six times between the indoor (2006, 2010 and 2016) and outdoor (2014, 2018 and 2019) seasons.

Men’s Assistant – Ernie Clark, Ashland

Clark, in his fourth year with the Ashland program, helped his team to the national title as his sprints, hurdles and relay groups stepped up in a big way at the outdoor championships. His athletes combined to score 41 of the Eagle’s 54 points (75.9 percent) including individual champions in the 400 and 400H to help the Eagles win the team title by just a single point. The group’s 4×400 clinched the championship with its second-place finish.

Clark also coached the GLIAC High Point Track Athlete of the Meet as his units wracked up 91 points to place second at the outdoor conference championships.

It is the second straight year that Clark has been named Men’s Outdoor Assistant Coach of the Year.

Women’s Assistant – Asaundra Dalton, SF State

Dalton, in her first year with SF State, had her athletes play a big role as the program won the CCAA Outdoor Championships and finished fifth overall at outdoor nationals, a program-best. The group posted victories in the 4×100, 4×400, 100H, 400H, 200 and 400 for a grand total of six event champions at the conference meet. The Gators then went to have nine athletes qualify for outdoor nationals, with the best performances of the weekend going to national runner up Monisha Lewis in the 100H and the 4×100 and 4×400 units. In total Dalton’s athletes recorded 37 point of the team’s 42 points (88.1 percent) at the national meet.

It is the first career Assistant Coach of the Year award for Dalton as she became the first SF State assistant to ever get selected for the national honor.