NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (Oct. 6)

NEW ORLEANS – The fall cross country season is moving right along!

We’ve seen a number of bigger meets pop up around the nation, including those that happened this past weekend from Florida to Iowa to Texas – and everywhere in between.

Here are those athletes who stood out amongst their peers and 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 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 – Wesley Kiptoo, Iowa State

Junior | Marakwet, Kenya

Athletes at the NCAA Division I level are quickly finding out for themselves what those in NJCAA Division I learned last year: It’s hard to keep up with Wesley Kiptoo (Banguria).

One year after taking the JUCO arena by storm, Kiptoo is off to a fast start at Iowa State, posting consecutive victories to begin the season. His first came at the Bob Timmons Classic two weeks ago and then, this past weekend, he romped to a near 27-second triumph at the Cowboy Jamboree over Isai Rodriguez of Oklahoma State, who finished fourth at the 2018 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships as a freshman and second at the Big 12 Cross Country Championships as a sophomore. It ended up being a course record for Kiptoo, as well, as he covered the 8K tract in 23:34.5.

Kiptoo went undefeated in cross country last year at Colby (Kan.) CC, which included a dominant effort at the NJCAA Division I Championships where he won by one minute. He then turned his attention indoors, wrote his name all over the JUCO record book and scored 25½ points at the NJCAA Indoor Championships with four top-4 finishes in his events.

This is the second year in a row that a male athlete from Iowa State has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. Edwin Kurgat was a two-time honoree in 2019 on September 23 and October 21 following a pair of big wins.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Sarah Chapman, Missouri

Senior | Maidenhead, England

Sarah Chapman used the home course to her advantage this past weekend.

Running at the Missouri-hosted Gans Creek Classic against fellow conference foes Arkansas and Vanderbilt, Chapman found herself among a large pack of Razorbacks throughout the 6K race. But, when it mattered most, Chapman pulled away and crossed the finish line first in 20:01.1, five seconds clear of Lauren Gregory of Arkansas, who finished third at both the SEC and South Central Region Championships two years ago, among others.

Chapman covered the final kilometer of the race in 3:12.7, which allowed her to top her time from the same meet on the same course last year by one minute, 26 seconds. To break it down even more: If Chapman ran the time she ran this past weekend at last year’s meet, she would have won by more than one minute.

This is the second time in program history that a female athlete from Missouri has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. Karissa Schweizer earned the honor three years ago on September 18 after winning the Commodore Classic.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Christian Noble, Lee (Tenn.)

Senior | Greenfield, Indiana

Christian Noble won big in Louisville.

The senior from Greenfield, Indiana, dominated the Blue Race at the Live in the Lou Classic this past weekend for his second win of the season. Noble traversed the 8K course in 23:34 for a one minute, 18 second margin of victory over second place.

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

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Celine Ritter, Lee (Tenn.)

Senior | Roesrath, Germany

Two wins, two national honors.

Celine Ritter, a senior from Roesrath, Germany, claimed her second victory of the year at the Live in the Lou Classic. Ritter completed the 5K grass circuit in 17:40.9 to top the field in the Blue Race.

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

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Brandan Knepper, Calvin

Sophomore | Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

One year has made a world of difference for Brandan Knepper.

As a freshman, Knepper’s best finish in cross country was 13th at the MIAA Championships. Now, two races into his sophomore year, Knepper finished in the top-2 twice, which includes a victory this past weekend at the Knight Invite over teammate and former National Athlete of the Week Jonathan Ellis. Knepper crossed in 24:56.9, four seconds ahead of Ellis.

This is the first time in award history that two different male teammates from the same program at the NCAA Division III level have earned National Athlete of the Week honors during the same cross country season.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Evie Bultemeyer, Trine

Senior | Fort Wayne, Indiana

Make it back-to-back wins for Evie Bultemeyer.

One week after posting her first victory of the season at the Tiger Cross Country Invitational, Bultemeyer triumphed at the Knight Invite this past weekend in a big way. Bultemeyer won by nearly 10 seconds in 21:43.5, besting a chase field that included former National Athlete of the Week Sadie Herringa of Calvin, who finished 30 seconds behind in fourth place.

This is the second year in a row that Bultemeyer has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. She also earned the honor on September 9, 2019.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Teagan Flanagan, Hutchinson (Kan.) CC

Sophomore | Wichita, Kansas

Teagan Flanagan has turned himself into a contender in the blink of an eye.

One year after finishing 81st at the NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, Flanagan has posted three consecutive strong efforts to begin the season, most recently at the Red Devils Duals. Flanagan cruised to a 22-second victory in 25:07.0 after taking runner-up in back-to-back weeks at the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic and Muthama Rogers XC Invitational.

This is the fourth time that an athlete from Hutchinson (Kan.) CC has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. Andrew Kibet earned the honor three times during the 2018 season on September 4, October 8 and October 29.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Faith Linga, Iowa Western CC

Sophomore | Nairobi, Kenya

This is Faith Linga’s world: We’re all just running in it.

Linga notched her second consecutive victory by a hefty margin this past weekend at the Briar Cliff Invitational, crossing the finish line in 16:41.8, 26 seconds ahead of Eleonora Curtabbi of Iowa Central CC, who finished fifth at the NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships last year (Linga won that race by 23 seconds as a freshman).

Dating back to last year, this is the fifth time that Linga has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NJCAA DIVISION II MEN – Devan Crow, Allen (Kan.) CC

Sophomore | Demorest, Georgia

Devan Crow led Allen (Kan.) CC to victory at the Red Devil Duals this past weekend.

In a meet that featured athletes and teams from NJCAA Division I and NJCAA Division II, Crow finished third individually behind two talented athletes from the NJCAA Division I level and was nearly three minutes clear of the next closest NJCAA Division II competitor at 25:42.7. Thanks to Crow’s low stick, the Red Devils were able to win the meet and take down Hutchinson (Kan.) CC and Butler (Kan.) CC, both of whom are ranked in the top-5 in NJCAA Division I.

This marks the first time in award history that an athlete from Allen (Kan.) CC has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NJCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Lubna Suied, Cowley (Kan.) College

Sophomore | Tomball, Texas

Lubna Suied ran to another easy victory this past weekend.

Competing against a number of NJCAA Division I programs, Suied left no doubt that she was the class of the field, running away from the pack early. Suied crossed the finish line victorious in 19:09.2, 53 seconds ahead of the next closest competitor. A few weeks ago, Suied won the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic by nearly 26 seconds.

This marks the third time in her career that Suied has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. She also earned the award over opening weekend in 2019.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Hunter Brignall, Finger Lakes (N.Y.) CC

Sophomore | Seneca Falls, New York

Hunter Brignall wants teams to look out for Finger Lakes (N.Y.) CC in November.

If Brignall has his way, they’ll be looking out for him, too, at the front of the pack.

Brignall picked up his second victory of the season this past weekend, crossing the finish line first at the MVCC Hawks Invitational in 17:15.5, nearly 33 seconds ahead of the runner-up. He led the fourth-ranked Lakers to a 27-point win over seventh-ranked Tompkins Cortland (N.Y.) CC in the team standings.

This marks the first time in award history that an athlete from Finger Lakes (N.Y.) has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Brooke Bertovich, Westmoreland County (Pa.) CC

Sophomore | Smock, Pennsylvania

Brooke Bertovich picked up a big win this past weekend.

Bertovich, a sophomore from Smock, Pennsylvania, covered the 5K tract at the inaugural Penn Highlands Black Bear Invitational in 21:49.37, four seconds ahead of the next closest finisher. Not only that, but she also led the second-ranked Wolfpack to a close head-to-head victory over fourth-ranked Lorain County (Ohio.) CC.

This is the first time in program history that an athlete from Westmoreland County (Pa.) CC has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.