2020 NJCAA Cross Country Postseason Awards

NEW ORLEANS — Postseason awards for all three divisions of NJCAA Cross Country were released on Tuesday afternoon by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

A season that wasn’t promised in 2020 beget some incredible performances, which culminated in an amazing day of racing at the NJCAA Cross Country Championships this past weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa. All three divisions converged on the Lakeside Municipal Golf Course and turned in countless memorable efforts that will not be soon forgotten.

Keep scrolling down for those award winners in each NJCAA division.

NJCAA Division I

USTFCCCA National Award Winners

National Men's Athlete of the Year

Kelvin Bungei won the men’s individual title at the 2020 NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships this past weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Bungei, a freshman from Kitale, Kenya, took over the lead at the 3 mile split and didn’t look back, winning by 13 seconds in 24:57.38. Bungei also posted victories in three other meets this fall, namely at the Region XI Championships in early November.

National Women's Athlete of the Year

Faith Linga won the women’s individual title at the 2020 NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships this past weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Linga, a sophomore from Nairobi, Kenya, led by four seconds at the 1 mile split and extended it from there, eventually winning by nearly 36 seconds in 18:10.90. Linga, who completed an undefeated season, became just the third woman in NJCAA DI history to win back-to-back individual titles in meet history.

National Men's Coach of the Year

Dee Brown, in his 17th year with the program, led Iowa Central CC to the men’s team title at the 2020 NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships this past weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The Tritons, who won their first national title since 2017, had four runners in the top-20 – which included individual champion Kelvin Bungei – and totaled 65 points, 26 fewer than the runner-up. Iowa Central CC also nabbed top NJCAA DI team honors at the Region XI Championships in early November.

National Women's Coach of the Year

Kathy Graham led Ranger College to the women’s team title at the 2020 NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships this past weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The Lady Rangers, who won their first national title in program history by one point, used a true team effort as they had four runners in the top-20 and posted the second smallest spread between their first and fifth scorers. Ranger College entered the national meet ranked eighth nationally. The Lady Rangers also fared well at several other meets, which included a victory at its own William Graham Ranger College Invitational in early October.


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NJCAA Division II

USTFCCCA National Award Winners

National Men's Athlete of the Year

Melvin Kipkemboi won the men’s individual title at the 2020 NJCAA Division II Cross Country Championships this past weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The freshman from Rift Valley, Kenya, outkicked three other men for the victory in the last 800 meters and crossed the finish line in 24:58.77. Kipkemboi ran well all season long and captured top NJCAA DII individual honors at the Region XI Championships in early November.

National Women's Athlete of the Year

Lubna Suied won the women’s individual title at the 2020 NJCAA Division II Cross Country Championships this past weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The sophomore from Tomball, Texas, overcame her toughest challenge of the season and pulled away over the final 800 meters to win by three seconds in 18:30.42. Suied won five of the six races in which she competed this fall, which included an overall title at the Region VI Championships in early November.

National Men's Coach of the Year

Curtis Vais, in his 17th year with the program, led North Iowa Area CC to the men’s team title at the 2020 NJCAA Division II Cross Country Championships this past weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The Trojans, led by individual champion Melvin Kipkemboi, put four runners in the top-12 and totaled 57 points, 11 fewer than the runner-up. NIACC was locked in a three-way tie at the final split, but its runners dug deep for the win. The Trojans also earned top NJCAA DII team honors at the Region XI Championships in early November.

National Women's Coach of the Year

Ty Wolf, in his first year with the program, led Heartland (Ill.) CC’s women to a runner-up finish at the 2020 NJCAA Division II Cross Country Championships this past weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The Hawks, who are in their first year in existence as a program, put three runners in the top-15 and had the smallest spread out of any team in the field at 37 seconds. Heartland CC won five of the six meets that it entered during the regular season, which included top NJCAA DII team honors at the Region XXIV Championships in early November.


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NJCAA Division III

USTFCCCA National Award Winners

National Men's Athlete of the Year

Donovan Denslow won the men’s individual title at the 2020 NJCAA Division III Cross Country Championships this past weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The sophomore from Eoila, Missouri, led from the gun and won by an astonishing 40 seconds in 26:38.63. Denslow came on strong to finish the season, finishing runner-up twice in cross-divisional competition and capturing the Region XVI individual crown.

National Women's Athlete of the Year

Tiffany Lehmann won the women’s individual title at the 2020 NJCAA Division III Cross Country Championships this past weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The freshman from Joliet, Illinois, picked up the pace down the stretch and won by 14 seconds in 20:10.87. Lehmann, running in her first cross country season of her life, was named National Athlete of the Week five times during the fall.

National Men's Coach of the Year

Steve Davis, in his second year with the program, led Mineral Area (Mo.) to the men’s team title at the 2020 NJCAA Division III Cross Country Championships this past weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The top-ranked Cardinals, led by individual champion Donovan Denslow, set a meet record for the fewest points scored by a winning team with 18. Mineral Area College put its entire scoring lineup in the top-10. The Cardinals also won the team title at the Region XVI Championships in early November.

National Women's Coach of the Year

Jeff DeGraw, in his second year with the program, led Joliet (Ill.) JC to the women’s team title at the 2020 NJCAA Division III Cross Country Championships this past weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The Wolves, led by individual champion Tiffany Lehmann, put four runners in the top-15 and scored 41 points as they held off a strong challenge from the runner-up. Joliet JC was ranked No. 1 in the National Coaches’ Ranking for all four weeks of the regular season.


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