NCAA & NJCAA OTF National Athletes of the Week (March 30)
NEW ORLEANS – National Athletes of the Week for March 30 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.
- NCAA Division I Men – Terrance Laird, LSU
- NCAA Division I Women – Tara Davis, Texas
- NCAA Division II Men – Benjamin Azamati, West Texas A&M
- NCAA Division II Women – Judith Essemiah, Grand Valley State
- NCAA Division III Men – Alex Dimon, Marietta
- NCAA Division III Women – Favor Ezewuzie, Wheaton (Ill.)
- NJCAA Division I Men – Shakwon Coke, Barton County CC
- NJCAA Division I Women – Deisiane Teixeira, Highland CC
- NJCAA Division III Men – Donovan Denslow, Mineral Area College
- NJCAA Division III Women – Mia Tolbert, College of DuPage
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.
Junior | Sprints
If you name the three fastest men in collegiate outdoor history over 200 meters, you can’t do it now without including Terrance Laird of LSU. He made sure of that this past weekend.
Laird, running at the Texas Relays, ripped a half-lapper of 19.81 with a legal +0.8 m/s wind to put him right behind collegiate record holder Walter Dix (19.69) and Divine Oduduru (19.73).
— LSU Track & Field (@LSUTrackField) March 27, 2021
Earlier in the meet, Laird anchored the Tigers’ 4×100 relay to a runner-up effort in 38.70. Laird got the baton in fourth place, but closed extremely well to leave the anchors from third-place Texas A&M and fourth-place North Carolina A&T as if they were standing still.
This is the fifth time since the inception of the award that a male athlete from LSU has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season. Laird joins two-time honoree Mondo Duplantis (2019), Nethaneel Mitchell Blake (2016) and Vernon Norwood (2015).
Junior | Jumps
Agoura Hills, California
Tara Davis is synonymous with collegiate history now.
Davis, exactly two weeks after breaking the collegiate record in the indoor long jump, established the all-time collegiate standard in the outdoor version with her 7.14m (23-5¼) effort at the Texas Relays this afternoon. That topped the former collegiate record of 6.99m (22-11¼) set by Jackie Joyner of UCLA way back in 1985.
— Texas T&F/XC (@TexasTFXC) March 26, 2021
It was already the all-time, all-conditions collegiate best – regardless of wind reading – but when the officials confirmed it to be +1.0 m/s – well within the allowable +2.0 m/s realm – Davis could celebrate her second collegiate record in as many weeks. Carol Lewis of Houston turned in the former all-conditions best 37 years ago at 7.03m (23-0¾).
Davis’ record leap came in Round 4, but to get to Round 4, she had to dig deep in Round 3 after two fouls. What transpired was a legal 6.97m (22-10½) effort that stood as the best jump by a collegiate woman since 1985 and tied the second-best mark in collegiate history.
This is the first time since 2016 that a female athlete from Texas has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season. That turned out pretty well, as that honoree was none other than 2016 The Bowerman winner Courtney Okolo.
Freshman | Sprints
Akim Oda, Ghana
That’s the new standard for the 100 meters in NCAA Division II.
Azamati clocked a blistering 9.97 at the Texas Relays to win his qualifying heat, smashing the near 38-year-old former NCAA Division II record of 10.08, set by Darrell Green of Texas A&M-Kingsville back in 1983. The freshman from Akim Oda, Ghana, also became the first NCAA DII athlete under 10 seconds, regardless of condition.
Not only did Azamati set a new divisional record, he also set the Ghana national record and surpassed the Olympic qualifying standard in the event.
This is the second time in program history a male athlete has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season. Abraham Seaneke was the first to earn the honor on March 26, 2019.
Junior | Throws
Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
Judith Essemiah opened up her outdoor season in a big way.
On her first attempt of the competition, Judith Essemiah launched the hammer 63.22m (207-5) to become the No. 8 performer on the NCAA DII all-time top-10 list. She also threw 63.01m (206-9) and 62.05m (203-7) in her series to claim the top-3 throws in the division this season and she holds the national lead in the event by more than 12 feet.
It was a PR day for Essemiah, as all four of her throws that landed in the sector were over her previous personal best of 56.42m (185-2), set in 2019.
This is the third time in program history a female athlete has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season. Essemiah joins Ellianne Kimes and Rachael Walters, as they each earned the honor back in 2019.
Senior | Hurdles
Two weeks. Two national-leading marks for Alex Dimon.
One week after taking the NCAA DIII lead in the 400H at 53.40, Dimon surged to the top of the Descending Order List in the 110H. Dimon clocked a winning time of 14.37 at the Mount Union Outdoor Meet #1, beating the runner-up to the finish line by 0.59 seconds.
This is the first time in program history that an athlete from Marietta has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season.
Senior | Sprints/Hurdles
Favor Ezewuzie didn’t back down at the Texas Relays this past weekend.
Ezewuzie rose to the challenge in Austin, Texas, using the strong competition to propel her to a trio of top-2 marks on the NCAA DIII Descending Order List, including two chart-toppers in the 100 (11.75) and 100H (14.12 PR). The senior from Malden, Massachusetts, who is also ranked second in the 200 at 25.01, owns those national leads by an average of 0.45 seconds.
This is the second time in her career that Ezewuzie has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season. Ezewuzie previously earned the honor on April 9, 2019.
Sophomore | Jumps
Shakwon Coke soared at the Cowley Tiger Invitational this past weekend.
Coke might have only been competing in the long jump, but he certainly made it count in that only event as he flew 8.16m (26-9¼) with a legal wind at his back. That marked a huge PR for Coke, who previously topped out at 7.78m (25-6¼) during the 2020 indoor season.
Not only that, but Coke is now second on the All-College Descending Order List and sits as the third-best performer in NJCAA history.
This is the third year in a row that a male athlete from Barton County CC has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season. Coke joins Alencar Pereira (2019), Christian Lyon (2018) and Enrique Martinez (2018) in that regard.
Sophomore | Throws
Deisiane Teixeira might have found her favorite implement.
Competing at the Baker University Relays this past weekend, Teixeira launched the javelin 48.94m (160-7) to become the second-best performer with the third-best performance in NJCAA history. That effort came in Round 5, but she also had another 47.95m (157-4) heave in Round 6 that ranks seventh on the all-time performance chart.
During the indoor season, Teixeira threw the shot and the weight.
This is the first time since 2018 that a female athlete from Highland CC has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season (Kira Williams).
Freshman | Distance
Donavan Denslow continues to impress.
After winning the individual title at the NJCAA DIII Cross Country Championships and placing top-15 in two events at the NJCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, Denslow opened his outdoor season this past weekend at the Margaret Simmons Invitational with a 15:18.62 effort over 5000 meters. That placed him fourth in a field mostly composed of four-year athletes.
Denslow is also ranked first nationally in the 1500 at 4:04.05, converted from his effort at the NJCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships.
This is the first time in program history that an athlete from Mineral Area College has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season.
Freshman | Sprints
Mia Tolbert truly made an impact in her freshman debut.
Competing at the Bill Smith Challenge this past weekend, Tolbert notched a pair of NJCAA DIII-leading marks in the 100 and 200. Tolbert went 13.66 in the former and 28.09 in the latter.
This is the first time in program history that an athlete from DuPage has been named National Athlete of the Week during the outdoor season.