NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (Feb. 2)
NEW ORLEANS – The barrage on the collegiate indoor record book continues.
Here are eight athletes who left their mark this past weekend and were named National Athletes of the Week on Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
- NCAA Division I Men – Charlie Hunter, Oregon
- NCAA Division I Women – Tyra Gittens, Texas A&M
- NCAA Division II Men – Christian Noble, Lee (Tenn.)
- NCAA Division II Women – Cheyenne Williamson, Saginaw Valley State
- NCAA Division III Men – Josh Smith, Loras
- NCAA Division III Women – Marion Edwards, Loras
- NJCAA Men – Courtney Lawrence, Cloud County CC
- NJCAA Women – Victoria Adu, Iowa Central CC
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.
RS Junior | Mid-Distance
Charlie Hunter had himself a weekend.
On Friday night, Hunter toted the baton third for Oregon’s Distance Medley Relay team that not only demolished the collegiate record by more than five seconds, but set an all-time world best in the event with their time of 9:19.42. Hunter covered 800 meters in 1:47.65.
Then on Saturday, Hunter doubled back in the mile and matched the fourth best performer and the fourth best performance in collegiate indoor history with his 3:54.54. Now just 2.53 seconds stand between Hunter and the Oregon school record, which also happens to be the collegiate record as well: Edward Cheserek ran 3:52.01 back in 2017.
This is the first time since 2017 that an individual male athlete from Oregon has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Hunter also earned a group honor last year as part of the previous collegiate record-setting DMR on February 4.
RS Junior | Combined Events
Tyra Gittens launched herself into the upper echelon of multi-event athletes in collegiate history with her performance at the Texas Tech Invitational this past weekend.
The redshirt junior from Nashville, Tennessee, amassed 4612 points in Lubbock, Texas, to become the third best performer in collegiate history in the pentathlon.
Gittens opened the competition with a 8.33 PR in the 60H, followed by another PR in the high jump of 1.91m (6-3.25) that we’ll get to in a little bit. After a heave of 12.94m (42-5.5) in the shot put, Gittens nearly PR’d again in the long jump. Gittens soared 6.58m (21-7.25) on her final attempt, barely missing her PR of 6.62m (21-8.75) that she set two weeks ago. All that was left for Gittens was the 800, where she turned four laps in 2:30.86.
Here’s where we talk about that 1.91m (6-3¼) clearance in the high jump. Gittens is now the national leader in that event and notched the fourth best pentathlon bar in collegiate history.
This is the second week in a row that a female athlete from Texas A&M has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season (Athing Mu).
Senior | Distance
January was a record-breaking month for Christian Noble.
The native of Greenfield, Indiana, continued his assault on the NCAA Division II record book in distance events. Noble went 7:51.46 over 3000 meters at the Magic City Elite 2 on Sunday evening to break the NCAA DII record in the event, previously set by Sydney Gidabuday of Adams State in 2019. His time also broke the facility record of 7:52.85, turned in by Morgan McDonald of Wisconsin en route to an NCAA DI title in 2019.
Noble now holds three national leading marks – the mile (4:00.6), 3000, and the 5000 (13:37.39) – and two NCAA DII records (His mark in the 5000 was also certified by the NCAA).
This is the third consecutive National Athlete of the Week honor for Noble and fourth overall for Lee (Tenn.). It is the first time an NCAA DII athlete has earned National Athlete of the Week honors for three consecutive weeks.
Sophomore | Combined Events
It was a big weekend for Cheyenne Williamson in the pentathlon.
The sophomore from Essexville, Michigan, took over the national lead with a score of 3906 points at the SVSU Jet’s Pizza Invitational. It was a 276 point PR that puts her 70 points away from cracking the NCAA Division II all-time top-10 list.
Williamson got her day started in the 60H with a strong time of 8.84 seconds and cleared 1.67m (5-5¾) in the high jump. She then hit a personal best in the shot put with a heave of 10.80m (35-5¼) before soaring 5.85m (19-2½) in the long jump. Williamson closed out the competition with a PR of 2:24.91 in the 800.
Her mark of 5.85m in the long jump also surpassed the provisional qualifying standard and ranks her No. 5 on the NCAA DII Descending Order List.
This is the first time in program history that an athlete from Saginaw Valley State has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.
Junior | Sprints
Josh Smith began his junior year in a big way.
Smith doubled up on national leads this past weekend at the Wartburg Friday Night Lights Meet, surging to the top of NCAA Division III in the 60 at 6.88 and the 200 at 21.86.
His crowning moment of the meet came in the 200, where he beat Derrick Smith of Wartburg. What’s so special about that? Smith is currently No. 2 on the Descending Order List.
Those were just in his individual events, because he also toted the baton first on the national-leading 4×400 relay, which got the stick around in 3:19.73c (3:22.34).
This is the first time since the 2019 season that a male athlete from Loras has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season (Patrick Mikel on December 11, 2018).
Junior | Sprints
Marion Edwards showed tremendous range this past weekend.
Edwards competed at the Wartburg Friday Night Lights Meet and starred in the 60, 200 and 4×400 relay.
In the 60, Edwards clocked a national-leading time of 7.77. Then in the 200, she finished runner-up to an NCAA Division I athlete from Northern Iowa and turned in a time of 25.93 for the second fastest mark on the Descending Order List. Then in the 4×400, Edwards anchored Loras to an NCAA DIII-leading mark of 3:55.51c (3:58.63).
This is the third year in a row that a female athlete from Loras has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Edwards joins Terrianna Black (2020) and Gabby Noland (2019).
Sophomore | Throws
History can’t wait when Courtney Lawrence steps into the circle.
Lawrence has quickly developed into one of the best throwers in NJCAA history, already notching three all-time top-10 marks this season in the shot put. Two of those efforts came this past weekend at the Region VI/KJCCC Invitational when he let it fly 18.92m (62-1) on his fourth attempt for the second best mark in divisional history, not long after his second attempt went 18.25m (59-10½) for what is now the ninth best mark in history.
This is the second time this season that Lawrence has been named National Athlete of the Week.
Freshman | Throws
Victoria Adu is making NJCAA history one throw at a time.
Adu, competing at the Region VI/KJCCC Invitational this past weekend, became the third best performer in division history in the weight throw. The freshman from Berlin, Germany, launched the implement 19.61m (64-4), which is also the sixth best performance in NJCAA history.
This is the second time this season that Adu has been named National Athlete of the Week.