USTFCCCA News & Notes
NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (Sept. 29)
NEW ORLEANS – Cross country is (mostly) back!
We’ve seen some great racing recently, so it’s only right to honor those who stood out the most.
Here are 12 athletes named National Athletes of the Week on Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
- NCAA Division I Men – Rohann Asfaw, Virginia
- NCAA Division I Women – Sasha Neglia, North Carolina
- NCAA Division II Men – Anthony Farmer, Lewis
- NCAA Division II Women – Lauren Bailey, UIndy
- NCAA Division III Men – Joe Freiburger, Wartburg
- NCAA Division III Women – Kassie Rosenbum, Loras
- NJCAA Division I Men – Habtamu Geta, Cloud County (Kan.) CC
- NJCAA Division I Women – Patricia Koma, Cloud County (Kan.) CC
- NJCAA Division II Men – Sam Mickelson, Hawkeye (Iowa) CC
- NJCAA Division II Women – Sarah Bertry, North Iowa Area CC
- NJCAA Division III Men – Donovan Denslow, Mineral Area (Mo.) College
- NJCAA Division III Women – Tiffany Lehmann, Joliet (Ill.) JC
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 12 collegiate cross country athletes, when applicable (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions and three 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 – Rohann Asfaw, Virginia
Senior | Rockville, Maryland
Rohann Asfaw proved ready in the first meet of the season.
The senior from Rockville, Maryland, won the individual title at the Virginia Invitational this past weekend at Panorama Farms. Competing against fellow ACC programs North Carolina and Wake Forest, he covered the 8K course in 24:03.1, eight seconds faster than the next finisher.
This is the second year in a row that Asfaw posted a season-opening victory. His first collegiate win came last year on September 14 at the Cavalier Classic in 24:25.9.
Asfaw is the first Cavalier to be named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. He is also the first male ACC athlete honored since Justyn Knight in 2017.
NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Sasha Neglia, North Carolina
Freshman | Kingsport, Tennessee
Sasha Neglia didn’t back down in her first collegiate cross country meet.
Competing at the Virginia Classic against conference foes Virginia and Wake Forest, Neglia cruised to a 14-second victory this past weekend, covering the 5K tract at Panorama Farms in 17:01.4, marginally faster than the winning time on the same course from the first meet in 2019.
This is the first time in program history that an athlete from North Carolina has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.
NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Anthony Farmer, Lewis
Freshman | Elgin, Illinois
Anthony Farmer has started his collegiate career with a bang.
Farmer, a freshman from Elgin, Illinois, took home top honors in the UIndy Triangular in his collegiate debut. He crossed the line at 18:41.4 in the 6K race ahead of teammate Dustin Macuiba. The Lewis 1-2 punch lifted the Flyers to the team title over defending GLVC Champions Southern Indiana.
This is the first time that a male athlete from Lewis has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.
NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Lauren Bailey, UIndy
Senior | Westfield, Indiana
Lauren Bailey opened up her senior season in dominating fashion.
Following a ninth place finish at the 2019 NCAA Cross Country Championships, the senior from Westfield, Indiana, set a personal best for 5K as she ran away with the individual crown at the GLVC Triangular. Bailey navigated the grass circuit in 17:01.7, nearly a minute over runner-up Jennifer Comastri, who finished 23rd at NCAAs a year ago.
This is the first time a female athlete from UIndy has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.
NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Joe Freiburger, Wartburg
Senior | Holy Cross, Iowa
Joe Freiburger picked up right where he left off.
The senior from Holy Cross, Iowa, has posted consecutive victories to begin the season, most recently at the Kohawk Quadragular this past weekend, where he won by 28 seconds (25:18 to 25:46) and led Wartburg to a sweep of the team standings. Two weeks before that, Freiburger cruised to a win at the John Kurtt Triangular by six seconds and paced another sweep.
Freiburger is carrying momentum he gained from a breakthrough junior year. He doubled up on distance titles at the A-R-C Indoor Championships in the 3000 and 5000, which came just a few months after he finished 22nd at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
This is the first time that a male athlete from Wartburg has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.
NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Kassie Rosenbum, Loras
Junior | Guttenberg, Iowa
Kassie Rosenbum won the Loras Triangular this past weekend by three minutes, 10 seconds.
That’s not a typo.
Rosenbum made quick work of the competition on her home course, covering the 6K tract in 21:52.3, light-years ahead of runner-up Cat Lucht of Simpson in 25:02.4.
This came one week after Rosenbum, a tri-champion from the A-R-C Indoor Championships and the fifth-place individual at last year’s NCAA Cross Country Championships, won the first A-R-C Triangular by nearly two minutes and set a course record.
Rosenbum is the first athlete from Loras to be named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.
NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Habtamu Geta, Cloud County (Kan.) CC
Sophomore | Houston, Texas
Habtamu Geta continued his strong season this past weekend.
The sophomore from Houston, Texas, was the top collegiate finisher at the Cottonwood Challenge, covering the 8K course in 25:02.9. He finished right behind Kwanele Mthembu, a former Cloud County (Kan.) CC athlete, who ran unattached.
Geta entered the competition on a two-meet win streak. He earned individual titles in back-to-back weeks at the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic as well as the Ollie Isom Invitational.
This is the 12th time that a male athlete from Cloud County (Kan.) CC has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. Three different men had combined for 11 honors in three of the past four years (Moses Dirane had four in 2016, Dennis Kiptoo added three in 2018 and Dais Malebana chipped in four of his own last year).
NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Patricia Koma, Cloud County (Kan.) CC
Sophomore | Wichita, Kansas
Patricia Koma cruised to victory this past weekend at the Cottonwood Challenge.
Koma covered the 5K tract in 19:32.6, nearly 14 seconds ahead of Lauren Nutting of Newman, who finished runner-up.
That marked consecutive victories for Koma, as she also broke the tape first at the Ollie Isom Invitational two weeks ago. Koma also added a runner-up effort in her season opener at the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic.
Koma is the first woman from Cloud County (Kan.) CC to be named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.
NJCAA DIVISION II MEN – Sam Mickelson, Hawkeye (Iowa) CC
Sophomore | East Dubuque, Iowa
Sam Mickelson made it look easy this past weekend.
Mickelson rolled to victory at the 27th Annual Mustang Gallop, covering the 8K tract in 26:33.0, some 35 seconds ahead of the next closest competitor.
Two weeks ago, Mickelson posted his second individual victory of his collegiate career, winning the Fighting Bee Invitational. Mickelson also won a 3000 on the track this past January.
This is the first time that an athlete from Hawkeye (Iowa) CC has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.
NJCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Sarah Bertry, North Iowa Area CC
Freshman | Boyde, France
If Sarah Bertry was running track, she would have lapped the field – and then some.
Bertry won going away this past weekend at the Spartan Classic, covering the 5K tract in 19:39.9, nearly two minutes faster than the next closest competitor.
Three weeks ago, Bertry finished third at the Grand View Open behind two standout runners from Iowa Central CC.
This is the first time that a female athlete from North Iowa Area CC has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.
NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Donovan Denslow, Mineral Area (Mo.)
Sophomore | Clarksville, Missouri
Donovan Denslow fared well at the Tiger Cross Country Invitational this past weekend.
The sophomore from Clarksville, Missouri, finished eighth out of 131 runners in a race that featured athletes from both the NCAA Division III level as well as the JUCO level, including the former National Athlete of the Week from NJCAA DIII. He crossed the finish line in 16:11.80, just 0.20 seconds out of seventh place.
This is the first time that an athlete from Mineral Area (Mo.) has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.
NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Tiffany Lehmann, Joliet (Ill.) JC
Freshman | Joliet, Illinois
Make it back-to-back national honors for Tiffany Lehmann.
The freshman from Joliet, Illinois, was the top-ranked finisher from a JUCO program this past weekend at the Tiger Cross Country Invitational. She crossed the finish line 15th in 20:09.10 for the 5K distance, right behind several runners from four-year NCAA Division III institutions.
It marked a 20-second improvement from the time that Lehmann, who is competing in her first-ever cross country season, clocked last week over the same distance to finish third at the Heartland XC Invitational.