2021 NJCAA Indoor T&F Regional Award Winners
NEW ORLEANS – Regional Athletes & Coaches of the Year for the 2021 NJCAA Indoor Track & Field season were announced on Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Each of the four regions – Atlantic, Central, Midwest and West – honored both genders’ top track athletes and field athletes as well as the top men’s and women’s head coaches and assistant coaches.
Award winners were determined by a vote of USTFCCCA member coaches. Only those individuals from USTFCCCA member programs are eligible for awards.
Men’s Track Athlete of the Year
ATLANTIC REGION – Sidney Littlejohn – Louisburg (N.C.)
Littlejohn, a freshman from Gastonia, North Carolina, is ranked 16th nationally and first regionally in the 60H at 8.32. He is also ranked top-6 in the Atlantic Region in the 200 (23.08) and 400 (54.52).
CENTRAL REGION – Vincent Nchogu – Northwest Kansas Tech
Nchogu, a freshman from Keumbu, Kisii, is ranked first nationally in three different individual events – 5000 (14:22.90 OT), 3000 (8:21.16) and mile (4:11.37) – as well as part of the DMR (10:13.37). He won Top Point Male Track Athlete of the Meet at the Region VI Indoor Championships.
MIDWEST REGION – Jackson Burnett – Indian Hills (Iowa) CC
Burnett, a sophomore from Paterson, New Jersey, is ranked first nationally in the 1000 at 2:26.66 OT. He is also ranked second nationally in the 800 at 1:52.73 and a member of the second-ranked DMR squad at 10:17.25. Burnett won the 1000 at the Region XI Indoor Championships and split 3:06 on the opening leg of the first-place DMR squad.
WEST REGION – Seydi Sall – South Plains (Texas)
Sall, a freshman from Rockville, Maryland, is ranked first nationally in the 600 at 1:19.34 outA. He is also ranked third nationally in the 1000 at 2:29.56c and fourth nationally in the 800 at 1:54.53.
Men’s Field Athlete of the Year
ATLANTIC REGION – Laterrion Johnson – Louisburg (N.C.)
Johnson, a freshman from Fayetteville, North Carolina, is ranked 12th nationally in the long jump at 6.88m (22-7), which is also a school record. He is also a triple jumper, but the last three meets of the regular season were canceled, so he couldn’t record a mark.
CENTRAL REGION – Courtney Lawrence – Cloud County (Kan.) CC
Lawrence, a sophomore from Petersfield, Jamaica, is ranked first nationally in the shot put at 18.92m (62-1). He has notched multiple all-time top-10 marks in NJCAA history this season and broke the Region VI Indoor Championships meet record with a 18.48m (60-8) heave.
MIDWEST REGION – Matteo Capello – Vincennes (Ind.)
Capello, a sophomore from Turino, Italy, is ranked first nationally in the pole vault at 5.40m (17-8½), which puts him at No. 2 on the NJCAA all-time list. He has also topped two other bars that reside in the all-time top-15 and set facility records at three venues this season.
WEST REGION – Romaine Beckford – South Plains (Texas)
Beckford, a sophomore from Portland, Jamaica, is ranked first nationally in the high jump at 2.20m (7-2½). He is undefeated this season and sits seventh on the All-College List this season, combining athletes from every collegiate division in the United States.
Men’s Coach of the Year
ATLANTIC REGION – Cameron Ruppe – Louisburg (N.C.)
Ruppe, in his first year at Louisburg (N.C.), has his team ranked No. 1 in the Atlantic Region. His Hurricanes accumulated two nationally ranked marks and 20 top-8 regionally ranked performances.
CENTRAL REGION – Mark Phillips – Cowley (Kan.)
Phillips, in his 18th year at Cowley (Kan.), has the Tigers ranked No. 6 in the USTFCCCA National Rating Index and No. 3 in the Central Region. The Tigers won the title at the Jayhawk Eastern Conference Championships with six event champions. His athletes have combined for 12 top-10 nationally ranked marks.
MIDWEST REGION – Jordan Burkholder – Iowa Central CC
Burkholder, in his second year at Iowa Central, has his team ranked No. 1 in the USTFCCCA National Rating Index and No. 1 in the Midwest Region. The Tritons won the title at the Region XI Championships and had eight event champions. Burkholders’ athletes combine for 24 marks that rank in the top-10 nationally.
WEST REGION – Erik Vance – South Plains (Texas)
Vance, in his fifth year at South Plains (Texas) has his team ranked No. 2 in the USTFCCCA National Rating Index and No. 1 in the West Region. He guided the Texans to 33 top-5 marks in the West, including 18 efforts that rank in the top-8 nationally.
Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year
ATLANTIC REGION – Sebastien O’Neill – Louisburg (N.C.)
O’Neill, in his third year at Louisburg, coached athletes to regional-leading marks in the 60-meter hurdles and long jump. The team trained and competed without a facility due to COVID protocols, and missed the last three weeks of the season for the same reason.
CENTRAL REGION – Morrie Turner – Coffeyville (Kan.) CC
Turner, in his second year with Coffeyville, guided athletes to nation-leading marks in the 60 meters, long jump and triple jump. Henry Kiner leads both of the horizontal jumps, while Guinove Joanus tops the list at 60 meters. Coffeyville has the top-ranked #EventSquad in both the 60 and 200.
MIDWEST REGION – Justin Anderson – Iowa Central CC
Anderson, in his fourth year coaching the sprints and hurdles at Iowa Central CC, led seven Tritons to qualify for the national championships in four different events, plus the 4×400 relay. Hurdlers Jaheem Hayles and Dashinelle Dyer rank 1-2 in the nation.
WEST REGION – Wes Miller – South Plains (Texas)
Miller, in his second year coaching the sprints, hurdles and middle distances at South Plains, guided athletes to region-leading performances in six individual events in addition to the 4×400 relay, which is also fastest in the nation. Five of his athletes are among the nation’s top-10, led by Seydi Sall, who is tops in the 600 meters.
Women’s Track Athlete of the Year
ATLANTIC REGION – Tania Dunbar – Bryant & Stratton (Va.)
Dunbar, a sophomore from Virginia Beach, Virginia, is ranked seventh nationally in the 60H at 8.95. She also competed as a member of the seventh-ranked 4×400 relay this season at 3:54.68.
CENTRAL REGION – Mercy Ntia-Obong – Cloud County (Kan.) CC
Ntia-Obong, a sophomore from Calabar, Nigeria, is ranked among the top-2 nationally in two individual events – 60 (No. 1, 7.31); 200 (No. 2, 23.84 OT) – and one relay event – 4×400 (No. 1, 3:44.34). If her mark in the 60 looks fast, it’s because it is: Ntia-Obong is the No. 2 performer in NJCAA history in that event with a mark that came out of the prelims at the NJCAA Region VI Indoor Championships.
MIDWEST REGION – Nickisha Pryce – Iowa Western CC
Pryce, a freshman from Clarendon, Jamaica, is ranked first nationally in both the 400 (55.07c/55.80f) and the 200 (23.71c/24.07c). She set NJCAA Region XI records in both of those events this year.
WEST REGION – Rosemary Chukwuma – South Plains (Texas)
Chukwuma, a sophomore from Abuja, Nigeria, is ranked second nationally in the 60 (7.35c/7.33A) and third nationally in the 200 (24.11c out/24.04A). She is undefeated this season at 60 meters.
Women’s Field Athlete of the Year
ATLANTIC REGION – Jada Venters – Bryant & Stratton (Va.)
Venters, a sophomore from Chesapeake, Virginia, is ranked third nationally in the pentathlon at 2731 points. She is also ranked 14th nationally in the long jump at 5.56m (18-3).
CENTRAL REGION – Ana Da Silva – Barton (Kan.) CC
Da Silva, a sophomore from Ribeirao das Neves, Brazil, is ranked first nationally in the shot put (16.10m/52-10) and third nationally in the weight throw (18.22m/59-9½). She swept the throws events at the NJCAA Region VI Indoor Championships and is ranked top-5 in NJCAA history in the shot put.
MIDWEST REGION – Vicki (Victoria) Adu – Iowa Central CC
Adu, a freshman from Berlin, Germany, is ranked first nationally in the weight throw (19.61m/64-4) and ninth nationally in the shot put (12.24m/40-2). She is currently the No. 3 performer in NJCAA history in the weight throw with the division’s best marks in the past five years.
WEST REGION – Onaara Obamuwagun – South Plains (Texas)
Obamuwagun, a sophomore from Lagos, Nigeria, is ranked first nationally in the triple jump (13.38mA/43-10¾) and fifth nationally in the long jump (5.84mA/19-2). She is undefeated this season in both of those events.
Women’s Coach of the Year
ATLANTIC REGION – Claude Toukene – Bryant & Stratton (Va.)
Toukene, in his first year at Bryant & Stratton (Va.), has his team ranked No. 10 in the USTFCCCA National Rating Index and No. 1 in the Atlantic Region. The Bobcats have nine nationally ranked top-15 marks across six disciplines, including the top ranked 60H and pentathlon groups in the #EventSquad Rankings.
CENTRAL REGION – Ted Schmitz – Cloud County (Kan.) CC
Schmitz, in his 40th year at Cloud County (Kan.) CC, has his Thunderbirds ranked atop the USTFCCCA National Rating Index and Central Region. The Thunderbirds claimed their first Region VI Championship in 40 years thanks to four event champions. His athletes have 22 nationally ranked top-10 marks this year, including the top marks in the 60, 600 and DMR.
MIDWEST REGION – Douglas Marshall – Iowa Western CC
Marshall, in his third year at Iowa Western CC, has his team ranked No. 3 in the USTFCCCA National Rating Index and No. 3 in the Midwest Region. The Reivers won the team title at the Region XI Championships with 12 event champions, including four Region XI records and five school records. His athletes combine for five national leading marks.
WEST REGION – Erik Vance – South Plains (Texas)
Vance, in his fifth year at South Plains (Texas), has his team ranked No. 2 in the USTFCCCA National Rating Index and No. 1 in the West Region. He had guided his athletes to 13 regional leading marks and 37 top-5 performances. The Lady Texans also have 11 top-10 nationally ranked marks, including the top performer in the triple jump.
Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year
ATLANTIC REGION – Kevin Nichols – Bryant & Stratton (Va.)
Nichols, in Bryant & Stratton’s second year as a program, helped the Bobcats lead the region in all 11 events the team contested. Jada Venters ranked highest nationally, rating No. 3 in the pentathlon.
CENTRAL REGION – Cameron Rieth – Cowley (Kan.)
Rieth, in his second year at Cowley (Kan.), led two athletes to combine for four conference titles and five top-10 national rankings. Most impressive was Lubna Suied, who rates No. 2 in 3000, No. 3 in the 5000 and No. 4 in the mile.
MIDWEST REGION – Shellene Williams – Iowa Western CC
Williams, in her ninth year at Iowa Western, guided five athletes to top-10 national rankings in the sprints. Highest of all is Nickisha Pryce, who leads the nation in the 200 and 400.
WEST REGION – Wes Miller – South Plains (Texas)
Miller in his second year at South Plains, oversaw region-leading performances in four individual events in addition to the 4×400 relay. Eight athletes combine for nine top-10 national rankings in individual events including the springs, hurdles, middle distances and pentathlon.