NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (Sept. 30)

NEW ORLEANS – We’re seeing vapor trails on the cross country course and not just in the sky.

That’s because our National Athletes of the Week just keep getting faster and faster.

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 – Conner Mantz, BYU

Sophomore | Smithfield, Utah

There were eight men within one second of the lead by the fifth split at the Bill Dellinger Invitational: Conner Mantz of BYU, Robert Brandt of UCLA, Garrett Reynolds of UCLA, Ryan Adams of Furman, Ahmed Muhumed of Boise State, Cooper Teare of Oregon, Jacob Heslington of BYU and Amir Ado of Washington State.

One split later, that number dwindled to just two: Mantz and Brandt.

From there, only one could win. And that winner was Mantz.

The sophomore from Smithfield, Utah, pulled away over the final portion of the race and beat Brandt by nearly two seconds. Mantz covered the 8K tract in 23:24.7, matching his PR at the distance from West Coast Conference Championships last year.

This is the second year in a row that a male athlete from BYU has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. Clayton Young nabbed the honor last year on October 8.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Ericka VanderLende, Michigan

Freshman | Rockford, Michigan

Ericka VanderLende was the crown jewel of Michigan’s 2019 recruiting class.

VanderLende has shown why through the first three meets of the season.

The freshman from Rockford, Michigan, finished fourth at the John McNichols Invitational last week and then followed that up with an emphatic victory at the Ohio State-Buckeye Preview this past weekend in her first try at the 6K distance. VanderLende covered the same course that will host the Big Ten Championships in a time of 20:17.9,

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

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Tanner Chada, Grand Valley State

Sophomore | Hinckley, Illinois

Tanner Chada, a sophomore from Hinckley, Illinois, topped a NCAA Division I field at the Ohio State-Buckeye Preview. His winning time of 24:27.2 was 10 seconds better than second place and also a personal best at 8K.

Chada joins elite company, as he is just the second male athlete in program history to be named National Athlete of the Week in cross country. He joins Zach Panning, who was the first Laker to earn the recognition on October 15, 2018.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Ida Narbuvoll, U-Mary

Senior | Narbuvoll, Norway

Make it two-for-two on wins and national honors for Ida Narbuvoll.

Narbuvoll earned her second crown of the year with a dominating performance at the Roy Griak Invitational. The senior from Norway won the Maroon division by more than one minute and led her team to a runner-up finish in the team standings. Her winning time of 21:24.5 was also a course record.

This is Narbuvoll’s second National Athlete of the Week honor of the year, earning the honor previously on September 9 after winning the MSU Moorhead Dragon Twilight. This is also the seventh overall honor for the women’s program.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Aidan Ryan, Williams

Junior | New York, New York

Make it back-to-back-to-back wins for Aidan Ryan.

Ryan, a junior from New York, New York, picked up his third consecutive win of the season this past weekend as he cruised to the individual title at the Purple Valley Classic. He covered the 8K tract in 26:07.3, nearly 24 seconds faster than Jacob Davis of RPI, who finished runner-up.

Back on September 7, Ryan opened the season with a victory at the Monmouth University XC Kickoff and followed that up with a win the following week at the Little 3 Cross Country Meet.

This is the first time that a male athlete from Williams has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season since Bijan Mazaheri took home the honor on October 5, 2015. Ryan is the third male athlete from Williams to earn the honor, joining Mazaheri and Colin Cotton (September 15, 2014).

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Sabrina Gornisiewicz, Tufts

Senior | Fort Lauderdale, Florida

It didn’t take long for Sabrina Gornisiewicz to make an impact.

Gornisiewicz, who is in her first year as a member of the cross country team, finished runner-up in her first race two weeks ago and then captured the individual title this past weekend at the stacked Purple Valley Classic. The native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, covered the 6K tract in 22:44.2 and won by nearly seven seconds to pace Tufts to the team title.

It should also be noted that Gornisiewicz wasn’t fazed by losing a shoe 1.5 miles into the race.

This is the second year in a row that the Jumbos had a female athlete named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. Natalie Bettez earned the honor twice last year.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Wesley Banguria, Colby (Kan.) CC

Sophomore | Eldoret, Kenya

Wesley Banguria remained undefeated this year, winning the Emporia State Invitational on Friday. He clocked 25:44.3 for the 8k course, almost 35 seconds ahead of Sylvestre Kibarar of Hutchinson (Kan.) CC and more than a minute up on Kibrara’s teammate Andrew Kibet, who is the defending national champ.

This is Banguria’s second time as National Athlete of the Week, having also earned the honor two weeks ago.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Flomena Asekol, New Mexico JC

Freshman | Eldoret, Kenya

Flomena Asekol made it three wins in three races this month, the latest coming on home turf at the New Mexico JC Invitational in Hobbs, New Mexico. She covered the 5k course in 17:50.4, almost 14 seconds ahead of South Plains’ Gladys Jemaiyo, who was runner-up in last year’s nationals.

Asekol is the first Thunderbird to be named National Athlete of the Week since Esther Gitahi on September 11, 2017.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Edwin Kipainoi, St. Charles (Mo.) CC

Freshman | Kajiado, Kenya

Edwin Kipainoi stood out this past past weekend from his peers.

Kipainoi, a freshman from Kajiado, Kenya, finished fifth overall at the H.W. Wright Classic hosted by Milikin College. He was the top-finishing JUCO athlete by nearly 40 seconds.

This is the first time that an athlete from St. Charles (Mo.) has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Katie Dorton, Oxford College

Sophomore | Atlanta, Georgia

Katie Dorton starred at the Willie Laster Invitational.

Dorton, a sophomore from Atlanta, Georgia, captured the individual title and set a PR over the 5K distance in the process. She crossed the finish line in 20:14.5, nearly six seconds ahead of the runner-up.

This is the second year in a row that a female athlete from Oxford College has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. Emily Elder earned the honor last year on October 22.