NCAA National Indoor T&F Athletes of the Week (Dec. 8)

NEW ORLEANS – Indoor track & field is back!

Competition began in earnest this past weekend and you better believe we had our eyes on it.

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

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, when applicable (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions and 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 – Tejaswin Shankar, Kansas State

Senior | High Jump
New Delhi, India

Everybody knows Tejaswin Shankar can high jump.

After all, Shankar won the event at the 2018 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships and placed runner-up the following year. Shankar actually finished with the same height as 2019 champion JuVaughn Harrison of LSU at 2.27m (7-5¼), but Harrison had a clean sheet through five bars.

Well, Shankar can also hurdle, long jump, throw the shot put and run 1000 meters pretty well, too. Shankar proved that this past weekend at the K-State Winter Invitational as he totaled 4343 points in the pentathlon and became the fourth best performer in collegiate history.

The senior from New Delhi, India, earned a glut of his points in the high jump, where he cleared 2.24m (7-4¼) before fouling out at 2.27m (7-5¼). That nearly matched his seasonal best from one year ago, where he cleared 2.25m (7-4½) at the Iowa State Classic to settle into a five-way tie for the No. 5 performer on the Descending Order List.

This is the second year in a row that Shankar has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. It is also the third consecutive year that a Kansas State male athlete has earned the honor (Brett Neelly took it home on December 11, 2018).

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Akealy Moton, North Dakota State

Junior | Throws
West Fargo, North Dakota

Name a better duo than North Dakota State athletes and throwing implements quite far.

Go ahead. We’ll wait.

Akealy Moton opened her season in a big way this past weekend at the Dakota Dual, launching the shot 17.31m (56-9½) to win the event by more than seven feet. Moton also had three other marks in the series that were better than 17.16m (56-3¾).

If Moton threw that winning mark last year, she would have already been No. 10 on the NCAA Division I Descending Order List. Moton has bigger goals than that, though, and proved it last year when she was ranked fourth nationally going into the canceled NCAA DI Indoor Championships.

This is the first time that a female athlete from North Dakota State has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Trevor Bassitt, Ashland

Senior | Hurdles
Lima, Ohio

It had been more than nine months since Trevor Bassitt last raced – but he didn’t skip a beat in his season opener this past weekend.

The senior from Lima, Ohio, clocked the second fastest 60 hurdles mark ever turned in by a NCAA Division II athlete in December. His winning time of 7.79 at the Tiffin University Challenge puts him behind Myles Hunter’s 7.76 from 2014.

It is also the second fastest time of Bassitt’s career, behind his PR of 7.75 set last year – a mark that has him ranked No. 6 on the NCAA DII all-time list in the event (Hunter owns the NCAA DII record at 7.53).

This is Bassitt’s fourth career National Athlete of the Week honor during the indoor season. He matches Myles Pringle for the most honors in Ashland history.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Hannah VanBuskirk, Central Missouri

Junior | Multis
Overland Park, Kansas

Hannah VanBuskirk kicked off her junior year in style.

VanBuskirk, a junior from Overland Park, Kansas, won the pentathlon at the Doane College Happy Holiday Multi Meet with 3844 points. She beat her previous PR of 3604 by 240 points thanks to strong efforts that set or matched indoor bests in all five events.

She started her day with a PR in the 60 Hurdles of 8.89, before matching her PR in the high jump of 1.74m (5-8½). She closed her day with three more personal best marks, going 10.23m (33-6¾) in the shot put, 5.61m (18-5) in the long jump and 2:26.96 in the 800.

Her score would have placed her No. 2 on the NCAA Division II Descending Order List a year ago, moving her up from No. 17 with her previous best.

This is the first time since 2015 a female athlete from Central Missouri has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Heavin Warner and Eriak Kinsey each earned the honor that year.