NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (Sept. 16)

NEW ORLEANS – Don’t look now, but the cross country season is almost one month old!

We’ve seen a dizzying number of strong performances, especially those that happened this past weekend.

Here are 10 athletes that stood out the most from their peers and were named National Athletes of the Week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Monday.

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, when applicable (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 – Kigen Chemadi, Middle Tennessee

Junior | Ainbkoi, Kenya

Welcome back to the grass circuit, Kigen Chemadi!

After placing 23rd at the 2017 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, Chemadi drew a redshirt in 2018 and came back with a vengeance in 2019. Chemadi has picked up two wins to start the season, most recently at the Commodore Classic this past weekend.

It was in Nashville, Tennessee, where Chemadi topped Indiana’s Kyle Mau by three seconds to win the individual title. Mau is an accomplished athlete in his own right, placing eighth in the 5000 at NCAAs this past outdoor season and 49th in cross country last year.

This is the second time in his career that Chemadi has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. His first honor came back on September 5, 2017.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Bailey Hertenstein, Indiana

Sophomore | Lithia, Florida

Bailey Hertenstein picked a thrilling way to earn the first victory of her collegiate career.

Hertenstein outkicked Georgia’s Jessica Drop to win the individual title at the Commodore Classic this past weekend by 0.5 seconds. The Indiana sophomore crossed the finish line in 21:08.0, compared to the Georgia senior’s 21:08.5.

The best finishes for Hertenstein as a freshman was a 22nd-place effort at the Paddy Doyle Meet of Champions and a 28th-place showing at the Big Ten Championships.

This is the first time that a Hoosier has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Samuel Blake, UC San Diego

Senior | Campbell, California

Samuel Blake dug deep and picked up his first career victory in cross country.

The senior edged Queens (N.C.)’s Anthony Raftis, an All-American in cross country last year, by a tenth of a second to take the victory at the Cougar Challenge. His winning time of 24:11.0 at the 8K distance is also a lifetime best.

This is the first time that an athlete from UC San Diego has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Hannah Wolkenhauer, Queens (N.C.)

Senior | Lincoln, Nebraska

Hannah Wolkenhauer began her final cross country with a win and a lifetime best.

Wolkenhauer posted a time of 21:08.4 to win the Cougar Challenge for a 19-second personal best at the 6K distance. She won the race by four seconds over the next closest competitor.

This is Wolkenhauer’s second career National Athlete of the Week Honor, previously receiving the honor back on September 18, 2017.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Danny Aschale, Connecticut College

Senior | Caimbridge, Massachusetts 

Danny Aschale is ready to make his senior year the best one yet.

Aschale, an XC All-American last year, rolled to a dominant, 28-second win this past weekend at the Bates Super XC Shootout at Pineland Farms when he covered the 8K course in 25:23.6.

This is the first time that an athlete from Connecticut College has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Genny Corcoran, SUNY Geneseo

Senior | Syracuse, New York

Genny Corcoran posted a convincing win this past weekend against a host of NCAA Division III talent and picked up a National Athlete of the Week honor for her efforts.

Corcoran won the Women’s 6K at the Yellowjacket Invitational by nine seconds over Ithaca’s Parley Hannan. It was also a near two-minute improvement over her time from last year on the same course (Corcoran ran 21:50.1 this year compared to 23:31.1 last year).

This is the second time in the past three weeks that an athlete from SUNY Geneseo has been named National Athlete of the Week. Ciara Knott nabbed the honor to begin the season back on September 3.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Wesley Banguria, Colby CC

Sophomore | Eldoret, Kenya

Wesley Banguria is showing he’s made big strides from last year.

His first race of the cross country season resulted in a dominating win at the Colorado College Invitational, winning the 8K race in 25:04.8. That was 54 seconds  ahead of the nearest competitor and more than two minutes faster than he ran there last year.

This is the first time a male athlete from Colby CC has been named the National Athlete of the Week. The only previous was Winnie Kibet, who earned the honor on October 2, 2017.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Sharon Chumo, Monroe College

Sophomore | Eldoret, Kenya

Sharon Chumo dominated the Queensborough Invitational, covering the famous 5K course at Van Cortlandt Park in a meet record of 18:49.0. Chumo won by more than one minute and was the only athlete to break 20 minutes in the race.

This is the first time since 2016 that that an athlete from Monroe College has won the Athlete of the Week Award.  Susan Ejore won it three times that season, the last on October 10, 2016.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Luis Antonio Fernandez, Suffolk CC

Sophomore | Centereach, New York

Luis Antonio Fernandez picked up right where he left off last year.

Fernandez ran strong this past weekend at the Queensborough Invitational, placing third overall and was the top-ranked athlete from NJCAA Division III by a comfortable margin.

This is the fourth time in the past five years that a male athlete from Suffolk CC has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Alexandra Smith, Suffolk CC

Freshman | Shoreham, New York

Alexandra Smith has hit the ground running as a freshman.

Smith has finished third at both meets she competed in this year, most recently at the Queensborough Invitational this past weekend. She covered the 5K course in 20:22.0.

This is the first time since 2015 that a female athlete from Suffolk CC has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.