NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (Oct. 27)

NEW ORLEANS – Just a few weeks remain in the fall cross country season!

There were a number of strong performances this past weekend across the nation.

Here are those athletes who were named National Athletes of the Week on Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

NOTE: There weren’t enough results at the NCAA Division I level to allow choices this week. The NCAA Division I National Athlete of the Week award program will return next week following Conference Championships Weekend.

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 II MEN – Dylan Ko, Colorado School of Mines

Junior | Windsor, Colorado

Dylan Ko and the Orediggers successfully defended their RMAC titles.

The junior from Windsor, Colorado, became the first Oredigger in program history to win two straight RMAC titles. Ko crossed the finish line in 24:18.4 for 8K over a star-studded field featuring four All-Americans that finished in the top-12 of last year’s NCAA meet.

Ko led the Orediggers to their second consecutive RMAC championship with 22 points and fourth conference title in the last five years. He was one of six Orediggers to finish in the top-10.

This is the second time Ko has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. Ko previously earned the honor on October 28, 2019.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Lauren Bailey, UIndy

Senior | Westfield, Indiana

After finishing third as a sophomore and second as a junior, it was time for Lauren Bailey to claim her first GLVC title in cross country.

The senior traversed the 6K course in 20:23.5 to break the GLVC meet record by 2.5 seconds. Her winning time was also a 27-second victory over second-place Elysia Burgos, who was the 2019 GLVC champion. Bailey’s victory came over a field that featured five All-Americans from last year’s NCAA Championships.

This is the second National Athlete of the Week honor for Bailey during the cross country season.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Joe Freiburger, Wartburg

Senior | Holy Cross, Iowa

Connect Four isn’t just a game for children.

Joe Freiburger proved that on the grass circuit.

Freiburger captured his fourth consecutive victory this past weekend at the Wartburg Triangular and remained undefeated this season. He broke his own Max Cross Country Course record that he set two weeks ago when he covered the 8K tract in 24:32.0, 9.3 seconds faster than he did earlier this month in a victory at the Dan Huston Triangular.

This is the third time that Freiburger has been named National Athlete of the Week this season, making him just the fourth male athlete in NCAA DIII award history to achieve that standing.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Kassie Rosenbum, Loras

Junior | Guttenerg, Iowa

Course records don’t last as long as they used to.

Two weeks after a 10-year-old all-time best fell at the Max Cross Country Course, Kassie Rosenbum destroyed that mark to win the Wartburg Triangular this past weekend in Waverly, Iowa. Rosenbum covered the 6K tract in 21:13.3, nearly 20 seconds faster than Aubrie Fisher of Wartburg did earlier this month to win the Dan Huston Triangular.

This past weekend was supposed to be Rosenbum’s toughest test – but she passed with flying colors. Rosenbum ran stride-for-stride with Fisher and 2019 A-R-C champion Carina Collet at the 1K mark and then put 14 seconds on them over the next 4K and cruised in from there.

We’ll see if Rosenbum, who now has earned two National Athlete of the Week honors this season, can polish off an undefeated campaign at the A-R-C Championships in a few weeks.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Pur Biel, Iowa Central CC

Sophomore | Minneapolis, Minnesota

Pur Biel tuned up for the postseason in a big way this past weekend.

Running against talented athletes from several different divisions, Biel captured the individual title at the Mustang XC Jamboree. He covered the 8K tract in 25:11.1, nearly three seconds faster than runner-up Jeremy Fopma of Maranatha Baptist, who placed first individually at the the 2019 NCCAA Cross Country Championships.

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

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Maura Williams, Southern Idaho

Sophomore | Nephi, Utah

Maura Williams keeps improving as a sophomore.

Williams placed sixth at the UM Western Bulldog Open to pace the fifth-ranked College of Southern Idaho women to a third-place team finish. She covered the 5K tract in 19:32.8, more than one minute faster than the next closest NJCAA Division I finisher.

This is the first time that Williams has been named National Athlete of the Week.

NJCAA DIVISION II MEN – Sam Mickelson, Hawkeye (Iowa) CC

Sophomore | East Dubuque, Iowa

Sam Mickelson is ready for the postseason.

Mickelson battled tough all race long this past weekend at the Mustang XC Jamboree and eventually placed fifth as the top NJCAA Division II finisher in 25:35.3. He competed on the same course exactly one month before and took a full minute off his time from then.

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

NJCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Ryann Portch, Hawkeye (Iowa) CC

Freshman | Avoca, Iowa

No NJCAA female was better than Ryann Portch at the Mustang XC Jamboree.

Portch led the chase pack throughout the proceedings this past weekend and finished sixth overall in 19:23.7, nearly 13 seconds faster than Lilia Alvarez of Iowa Central CC.

This is the first time that Portch has been named National Athlete of the Week.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Donovan Denslow, Minera Area (Mo.)

Sophomore | Eolia, Missouri

With Donovan Denslow leading the way, Mineral Area (Mo.) isn’t just the best team in NJCAA Division III – The Cardinals are making moves against teams from other divisions.

Denslow finished runner-up at the St. Louis Fall Classic this past weekend, covering the 8K tract in 26:22.9. That low stick by Denslow propelled Mineral Area (Mo.) to its second victory in a row against teams from NJCAA Division II and the NAIA levels.

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

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Paige White, Georgia Military College

Freshman | Helena, Georgia

Paige White led Georgia Military College to a pair of team titles.

White finished runner-up at the NJCAA Region XVII Championships/GCAA Conference Championships as the Bulldogs swept South Georgia College. Anna Ashe, who competed unattached for Central Georgia Tech, won the individual title in 21:29.5.

This is the first time that White has been named National Athlete of the Week.