NCAA National Athletes of the Week (Nov. 4)

NEW ORLEANS – Postseason racing lit up the grass circuit this past weekend.

We saw some great performances, but none bigger than what these four athletes turned in at their respective conference championships. That is why there were named the final National Athletes of the Week for the 2019 cross country season 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 – Joe Klecker, Colorado

Graduate Student | Hopkins, Minnesota

It had been a while since a Colorado male athlete crossed the finish line first at the conference championships. You have to go back to when the Buffaloes were in the Big 12 for the last time that happened.

Well, Joe Klecker changed that this past weekend at the Pac-12 Championships.

Klecker, a graduate student from Minnetonka, Minnesota, covered the 8K tract at the Ash Creek Preserve in 23:02.7, three seconds faster than Cooper Teare of Oregon, who finished second. It was the first time that the Buffaloes won the individual title since 2007 and that all-important low stick helped pace the squad to the team title.

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

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Weini Kelati, New Mexico

Junior | Leesburg, Virginia

When Weini Kelati finally looked behind her after winning the individual title at the Mountain West Cross Country Championships this past weekend, you could tell there was a genuine look of surprise on her face. There was no one even close to her.

The junior from Leesburg, Virginia, romped to her second win in a row at the conference meet as she crossed the finish line in 19:11.2, 49 seconds ahead of teammate Ednah Kurgat, who finished runner-up. That time by Kelati demolished the previous championships record over the 6K distance by a staggering 26 seconds.

This is the second time this season that Kelati has been named National Athlete of the Week.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Henry Pick, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps

Freshman | Ventura, California

What happens when there is a tie in cross country?

If you’re in the NCAA, you compare head-to-head results between each of the top-5 runners and the team that has the edge is the victor.

Well, this past weekend Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer finished in a dead heat at the SCIAC Championships with 31 points so they had to go to the scorecards to declare a winner.

It was all knotted up through four runners, but ultimately the conference title went to the Stags as Henry Pick, a freshman, crossed the finish line five seconds ahead of the next closest Sagehen athlete, a senior.

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

Careful consideration was also given to former National Athlete of the Week Ryan Cutter of UChicago, who won the individual title at the UAA Championships by 0.3 seconds over another former National Athlete of the Week, Nick Matteucci of Washington (Mo.).

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Sophia Gorman, Colby

Junior | Charlotte, Vermont

Sophia Gorman became the first woman since 2005 to capture back-to-back titles at the NESCAC Cross Country Championships.

The junior from Charlotte, Vermont, broke away late from a talented field that included five nationally-ranked programs and a former National Athlete of the Week to win by six seconds. Gorman crossed the finish line in 21:40.2, her second fastest time of the season over 6K.

This is the second year in a row that Gorman has been named National Athlete of the Week after winning the women’s race at the NESCAC Championships.