NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (Jan. 21)

NEW ORLEANS – Buckle your seat belts, folks, because if this past weekend is any inclination, we’re about to go on a heck of a ride the rest of the collegiate indoor track & field season.

We saw some incredible performances across the nation, but these are the eight that stood out the most and those athletes were named National Athletes of the Week on Tuesday 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 eight collegiate indoor track & field athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions as well as the NJCAA).

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 – Darryl Sullivan, Tennessee

Senior | High Jump
Marion, Illinois

Darryl Sullivan soared to historic heights this past weekend.

The senior from Marion, Illinois, cleared 2.33m (7-7¾) in the high jump at the Virginia Tech Invitational to not only take over the collegiate lead, but move into a tie with six other men as the fourth best performer in collegiate history.

Sullivan needed three attempts to clear the previous bar of 2.27m (7-5¼) and then clamped down to top the next one in just two attempts. After he landed on the mat, both his coaches and his teammates swarmed him on the apron.

This is the first time since 2017 that an athlete from Tennessee has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season (Christian Coleman). 

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Tonea Marshall, LSU

Senior | Hurdles
Arlington, Texas

Tonea Marshall joined some historic company this past weekend.

The senior hurdler from Arlington, Texas, became the third fastest performer with the fifth fastest performance in collegiate history when she went 7.86 in the 60 Hurdles at the Corky Classic. It was a substantial PR for Marshall as she lowered her previous best from 8.04.

Marshall, who is the first collegian to go sub-7.87 since 2013, is now chasing just two women in the collegiate record book: Brianna Rollins (now McNeal) and Virginia Powell.

This marks the first time since 2015 that a female athlete from LSU has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season (Tori Bliss).

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Trevor Bassitt, Ashland

Junior | Sprints/Hurdles
Lima, Ohio

Trevor Bassitt has taken the NCAA Division II sprints scene by storm.

The junior from Lima, Ohio, bolted to a new personal best and Ashland school record in the 200, clocking a time of 20.88 to win the YSU College Invitational. His previous personal best entering the weekend was 21.20. He also won the 60 Hurdles in 7.92 for the second-fastest time of his career.

Bassitt is currently the division leader in three events: 200 (20.88), 400 (46.88) and 60H (7.88).

This is the sixth time that a male athlete from Ashland has been named the National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Bassitt joins Zac Ball and four-time recipient Myles Pringle.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Fatim Affessi, West Texas A&M

Senior | Jumps
Geneva, Switzerland

Fatim Affessi is leaving her mark in the sand and in the record book.

Affessi, a senior from Geneva, Switzlerland, posted the sixth-best long jump in NCAA Division II history. Her best mark of the day at the Corky Classic went 6.37m (20-10¾) as she jumped better than 20 feet three times in her series. This is also the best mark at the NCAA DII level since 2015.

This is the third time that a female athlete from West Texas A&M has won the award and the second time for Affessi in her career, previously earning the honor on February 27, 2018.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Taylor Rooney, Gustavus Adolphus

Junior | Hurdles
Andover, Minnesota

Taylor Rooney is ready to prove he belongs on the national scene.

The junior from Andover, Minnesota, clocked another sub-8.10 performance in the 60 Hurdles to win the event title at the Minnesota State Invitational against NCAA DII and JUCO competitors.

Right now Rooney has gone sub-8.10 four times this season with a division-leading best of 8.03 from the Chuck Peterson Invitational in early December. Last year no man went sub-8.10 more than three times.

This is the first time in program history that an athlete from Gustavus Adolphus has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Parley Hannan, Ithaca

Senior | Distance
Orlean, Virginia

Parley Hannan is back at it again.

The senior from Orlean, Virginia, notched her third division lead of the season this past weekend when she went 4:54.81 in a solo effort at the Ithaca College Tri-Meet. It was such a dominant effort for Hannan that she won by nearly a full minute over the closest competitor.

This marks the second week in a row that Hannan has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. It is the first time since 2018 that a female athlete has won back-to-back honors (Wadeline Jonathas, UMass Boston).

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

Sophomore | Distance
Eldoret, Kenya

Wesley Banguria started the indoor season right where he left off in cross country – dominating.

Banguria, a sophomore from Eldoret, Kenya, opened his indoor season with a victory in the 3000 meters at the Graduate Classic in Lincoln, Nebraska, by 15 seconds in 8:00.14. That’s the second-fastest ever recorded by a JUCO runner, and the fastest since 1993.

This is the second time Banguria has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season, having also earned the award a year ago on January 22. He also won it four times during the fall cross country season.

NJCAA WOMEN – Onaara Obamuwagun, South Plains (Texas)

Freshman | Horizontal Jumps
Nigeria

In her first competition in the United States, Onaara Obamuwagun made a splash.

Obamuwagun, a freshman from Nigeria, won the triple jump at the Corky Classic in Lubbock, Texas, with a lifetime best of 13.20m (43-3¾) to become the No. 2 performer on the all-time JUCO list and farthest jumper since 2002. She was the African U20 champion last year.

She is the fifth female athlete from South Plains College to be named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor track & field season and the first since February 5 of last year, when Gladys Jemaiyo earned the award.