NCAA & NJCAA TF National Athletes of the Week (March 23)

NEW ORLEANS – National Athletes of the Week for March 23 were announced on Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Here are those individuals who earned national honors from the USTFCCCA for their efforts during the track & field season.

Find out more about each of these athletes 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 10 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 – Turner Washington, Arizona State

Junior | Throws
Tucson, Arizona

Look out for Turner Washington in the cage, too – not just the circle.

One week after he capped a record-setting indoor season with a national title in the shot put, Washington surged to the top of the NCAA DI Descending Order List in the discus at 64.23m (210-9), a mark that would have sat No. 2 at the conclusion of the 2019 season. That throw came on his last attempt of the competition, after efforts in Round 4 and Round 5 that would have already topped the Descending Order List this season.

Here’s a fun fact: Washington also leads the nation in the shot put by nearly four feet from a mark of 21.07m (69-1½) from the GCU Outdoor Invitational in early February.

This is the first time in award history that a male athlete from Arizona State has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Marie-Therese Obst, Georgia

Senior | Throws
Oslo, Norway

It’s safe to say Marie-Therese Obst couldn’t wait to throw again in collegiate competition.

Vying at the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Invitational this past weekend, Obst let the javelin fly 58.11m (190-7) on her second attempt and then really reared back three attempts later. Obst’s implement impaled the ground at 59.42m (195-0), which matched the 10th best performer in collegiate history (Brittany Borman, Oklahoma).

That was a massive PR for Obst, who previously had a collegiate best of 53.73m (176-3) from 2019.

This is the third time in program history that a female athlete from Georgia has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season. Obst joins two-time honoree Keturah Orji in that regard (Orji earned the honor in back-to-back years in 2017 and 2018).

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Marcus Gustaveson, Concordia-St. Paul

Senior | Throws
Wheaton, Illinois

Marcus Gustaveson is ready to leave his mark.

The senior from Wheaton, Illinois, won the discus at the Alan Connie Shamrock Invitational with a throw of 58.52m (192-0) on his final attempt of the competition. He established himself as the national leader in the event by more than 13 feet.

Gustaveson shattered his PR of 51.08m (167-7) on his first throw of the day and only got better from there. Four marks in his series went over 55 meters, which also happen to be the top-4 throws in NCAA DII this year.

This is the first time in program history an athlete from Concordia-St. Paul has been Named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Zada Swoopes, West Texas A&M

Senior | Throws
Whitewright, Texas

Zada Swoopes had no trouble transitioning from indoors to outdoors.

Less than a week after winning the national title in the shot put at the NCAA DII Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Alabama, Swoopes threw 16.76m (55-0) on her sixth attempt to win the shot put at the WT Spring Break Classic. The senior from Whitewright, Texas is now the No. 7 performer all-time in NCAA DII history and quickly takes over the divisional lead.

Swoopes also won the discus with a heave of 53.56m (175-9) for the No. 2 mark on the Descending Order List.

This is the second time in program history a female athlete from West Texas A&M has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season. Fatim Affessi was the first Lady Buff to earn the honor on April 17, 2018.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Kyle Rollins, St. John Fisher

Senior | Multi-Events
Groveland, New York

Kyle Rollins played a major role in helping St. John Fisher capture the men’s team title at the Empire 8 Indoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend.

Rollins scored 38 points by himself, winning the high jump, long jump and triple jump, as well as finishing runner-up in the 60H. All of the victories added to his incredible legacy at the Empire 8 Indoor Championships, which saw him win four consecutive high jump titles, three first-place finishes in four years in the triple jump and two long jump crowns.

He ended the 2021 indoor season ranked top-25 nationally in three events: No. 1 in the high jump (2.10m/6-10¾), t-No. 13 in the 60H (8.37) and No. 14 in the triple jump (14.07m/46-2).

This is the second time that Rollins has been named National Athlete of the Week for his efforts in track & field. Rollins previously earned the honor back on December 17, 2019.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Olivia Pawlewicz, St. John Fisher

Junior | Mid-Distance
Fulton, New York

A team title wasn’t going to get away from St. John Fisher – not on Olivia Pawlewicz’s watch.

Entering the meet-ending 4×400 relay at the Empire 8 Indoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend, the Cardinals were clinging to a four-point lead over Nazareth. St. John Fisher led by as many as 26 points after the morning session, but saw its advantage dwindle over the course of the afternoon and left a lot of pressure on the 4×400 relay team. If Nazareth won the event, as it was projected, the Cardinals had to finish second to win the outright championship. Anything less than second place would give St. John Fisher a share of the crown, at best.

Well, Pawlewicz got the baton in fourth place with some work to do, as the Cardinals trailed both Houghton and Utica by five seconds. Pawlewicz, who already finished runner-up in both the 400 and 800 to give St. John Fisher 16 points, hawked down both of those anchors and crossed the finish line second behind Nazareth following the fastest anchor of the day.

This is the first time in program history that a female athlete from St. John Fisher has been named National Athlete of the Week in track & field.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Andrei Romanov, New Mexico JC

Freshman | Throws
Moscow, Russia

Any of Andrei Romanov’s throws that landed in the sector this past weekend at the WTAMU Spring Break College Invitational would have shattered the NJCAA record in the event.

Here’s the thing: Romanov had four incredible efforts that landed 73.25m (240-4) or farther away from the cage. His first landed at 75.30m (247-0), which bettered the previous NJCAA all-time best by nearly 17 feet. Two rounds later, Romanov let go a 75.73m (248-6) howitzer to top his previous best and put the old NJCAA record 18 feet, 2 inches in the rearview mirror.

Romanov also hit 75.13m (246-6) in Round 5 and 73.25m (240-4) in Round 6.

This is the first time in program history that a male athlete from New Mexico JC has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Flomena Asekol, New Mexico JC

Freshman | Mid-Distance
Kapenguria, Kenya

Flomena Asekol picked up where she left off indoors.

Asekol, one of the brightest stars at the NJCAA level in mid-distance events, clocked two division-leading marks this past weekend at the WTAMU Spring Break College Invitational. She started the meet with a 2:12.42 effort over 800 meters (altitude-converted to 2:11.98) and then returned to the track a few hours later to run a 4:38.42 PR for 1500 meters (altitude-converted to 4:34.52), both of which top the NJCAA Descending Order List by more than six seconds.

This is the fifth consecutive year that a female athlete from New Mexico JC has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Ryan Pendergast, St. Charles (Mo.)

Freshman | Mid-Distance
O’Fallon, Missouri

Ryan Pendergast started his first outdoor season with a bang.

Pendergast notched the second-fastest time of the year in the 1500 at 4:28.09 and then doubled back to lead off St. Charles (Mo.)’s nation-leading 4×800 relay to a 10:19.28 mark.

This is the first time in program history that a male athlete from St. Charles (Mo.) has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Elisabeth Dunn, St. Charles (Mo.)

Freshman | Distance
Perryville, Missouri

Elisabeth Dunn got out to a fast start this past weekend.

Competing at the CMU Open against a number of four-year programs, Dunn held her own and recorded nation-leading marks in the 1500 and 3000.

This is the first time in program history that a female athlete from St. Charles (Mo.) has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season.