NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (Oct. 28)

NEW ORLEANS – The postseason is in full swing!

That means athletes are stepping up to the plate as they compete for conference glory.

Here are 10 of those athletes who stood out the most this past weekend and were named National Athletes of the Week on Monday 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 – Meshack Kipchirchir, Norfolk State

Sophomore | Eldoret, Kenya

Meshack Kipchirchir crossed the finish line first at the MEAC Championships to lead Norfolk State to its fifth conference title in the past 10 years.

The sophomore from Eldoret, Kenya, covered the 8K tract in 25:03.5 and beat teammate Evans Cheruiyot by more than six seconds.

This is the first time in program history that a male athlete from Norfolk State has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Martha Bissah, Norfolk State

Senior | Accra, Ghana

Martha Bissah proved her strength on the oval throughout her career.

Now she is hitting her stride on the grass circuit.

The senior from Accra, Ghana, posted a dominant victory at the MEAC Championships this past weekend to lead Norfolk State to its first conference title since 2009. Bissah crossed the finish line some 14 seconds ahead of the next closest competitor.

This is the first time in program history that a female athlete from Norfolk State has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Dylan Ko, Colorado School of Mines

Sophomore | Windsor, Colorado

There was a lot of great racing during Conference Championships Weekend in NCAA Division II, but no male athlete ran faster – or won against better competition – than Dylan Ko.

The sophomore from Windsor, Colorado, posted a 10-second victory over former National Athlete of the Week Taylor Stack of Western Colorado this past weekend at the stacked RMAC Cross Country Championships when he crossed the finish line in 23:20.9. Not only that, but Ko also ran faster than anybody else at the NCAA DII level this past weekend while racing at 3,579 more feet of elevation.

Careful consideration for the honor was also given to Joshua Chepkesir of UNC Pembroke, who shattered a 17-year-old record for the winning time at the Peach Belt Conference Championships.

Ko is the third different athlete from Colorado School of Mines in the past four years to be named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Stephanie Cotter, Adams State

Sophomore | Cork, Ireland

Talk about a season debut.

In her first race of the season, Stephanie Cotter won the individual title at the RMAC Cross Country Championships with a time of 19:40.3. The sophomore from Cork, Ireland, posted a 13.7-second victory over teammates Eilish and Roisin Flanagan, who finished second and third, respectively, and leading the Grizzlies to their eighth straight RMAC title.

This is the second time this season that a female from Adams State has been named the National Athlete of the Week and the third overall in program history. Eilish Flanagan previously won the honor on October 7.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Merlin Padilla Jr., CCNY

Senior | New York, New York

Make it back-to-back conference titles for Merlin Padilla, Jr.!

The senior from New York, New York, earned the individual title at the CUNYAC Championships this past weekend when he covered the 8K tract at historic Van Cortlandt Park in 28:58.7.

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

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Glory Odeh, Lehman

Junior | Lagos, Nigeria

Glory Odeh battled tough conditions on her way to an individual title at the CUNYAC Championships.

The junior from Lagos, Nigeria, worked her way through a driving rainstorm to cover the venerable 6K tract at historic Van Cortlandt Park in 25:34.1, three seconds faster than the next closest competitor.

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

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

Sophomore | Eldoret, Kenya

Wesley Banguria won the individual title at the NJCAA Region VI Championships, scorching the 8K course in 23:30.6 for a 40-second margin of victory. The field included six ranked teams, including top-ranked Cloud County CC and top runner Dais Malebana.

This is the fourth National Athlete of the Week honor for Banguria, matching him with Malebana (this year) and another Cloud County athlete, Moses Dirane (2016), for most honors by a JUCO male runner in one year.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Winrose Chesang, Iowa Central CC

Sophomore | Kenya

Winrose Chesang repeats as National Athlete of the Week, thanks to a huge victory at the NJCAA Region XI Championships over Iowa Western CC’s Faith Linga Chepengat. Chesang, a sophomore, covered the 5k course in 16:41.2, 11 seconds ahead of fellow Kenyan Chepengat, herself a three-time winner of this honor this year.

This is Chesang’s third career National Athlete of the Week honor, having also earned it last year on Sept. 24.

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

Freshman | Kajiado, Kenya

Edwin Kipainoi has made it a habit of winning this season.

The freshman from Kajiado, Kenya, posted maybe his biggest victory of his freshman year with a dominating victory at the NJCAA Region XVI Championships this past weekend. He covered the 8K tract in 28:26.9, 19 seconds faster than the next closest competitor.

This is the third time this season that Kipainoi has been named National Athlete of the Week.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Audrey Kelly, St. Charles (Mo.) CC

Freshman | St. Peters, Missouri

Audrey Kelly nabbed the first victory of her collegiate career this past weekend, winning the individual title at the NJCAA Region XVI Championships.

The freshman from St. Peters, Missouri, covered the 5K tract in 20:42.1, 35 seconds ahead of the next closest competitor.

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