NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (September 20)
NEW ORLEANS – Cross country in the fall is a wonderful thing!
Here are our National Athletes of the Week in NCAA Cross Country and NJCAA Cross Country for September 20, 2021!
- NCAA Division I Men – Isai Rodriguez, Oklahoma State
- NCAA Division I Women – Whittni Orton, BYU
- NCAA Division II Men – Patrick Kiprop, Fresno Pacific
- NCAA Division II Women – Florence Uwajeneza, West Texas A&M
- NCAA Division III Men – Alex Phillip, John Carroll
- NCAA Division III Women – Clara Mayfield, Carleton
- NJCAA Division I Men – Nicholas Kiprotich, Iowa Western CC
- NJCAA Division I Women – Mercy Biwott, Iowa Western CC
- NJCAA Division II Men – Adrian Diaz-Lopez, Cowley College
- NJCAA Division II Women – Karissa Glover, Cowley College
- NJCAA Division III Men – Shazim Permaul, Hudson Valley (N.Y.) CC
- NJCAA Division III Women – Tiffany Lehmann, Joilet (Ill.) JC
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 12 collegiate cross country 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.
Senior | Ringwood, Oklahoma
Course records and opposing runners were no match for Isai Rodriguez at the Cowboy Jamboree this past weekend in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Rodriguez, who finished eighth this past spring at the NCAA DI Cross Country Championships, romped to a 31-second victory in a loaded race and obliterated the course record with his winning time of 23:05.8. The previous course record on the new OSU Cross Country Course was 23:30.2, established just last year by Luis Grijalva of Northern Arizona.
This is the second season in a row that Rodriguez was named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. He also earned the honor this past spring on March 3, 2021.
Senior | Panguitch, Utah
Whittni Orton pushed the pace in the final 1k of the FSU XC Open this past weekend in Tallahassee, Florida, and no one from a star-studded field could match her strength.
Orton, who finished 17th at the NCAA DI Cross Country Championships this past spring, split 3:09.1 down the stretch to win by nearly four seconds in 20:16.8. She led at two of the first five splits and then pulled away from Alison Pray of Southern Utah for the individual title.
This is the first time since 2018 that a female athlete from BYU has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season (Kate Hunter on October 8, 2018).
Freshman | Eldoret, Kenya
Patrick Kiprop is off to a fast start.
Kiprop, a freshman hailing from Eldoret, Kenya, captured the UC Riverside Invitational with a blistering 23:07.8 for 8k to win by nearly 33 seconds seconds. His time was the second fastest 8k of the weekend across all divisions, just behind Isai Rodriguez of NCAA Division I Oklahoma State, who clocked 23:05.8 at the Cowboy Jamboree.
The blistering effort is also the second-fastest performance in meet history. He was nine seconds off the course record of 22:58, set by Cam Levins of Southern Utah in 2011. Levins went on to win The Bowerman in 2012 for being collegiate track & field’s top male athlete.
This is the first time in program history an athlete from Fresno Pacific has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.
Junior | St. Paul, Minnesota
Florance Uwajeneza continues her hot streak.
The junior from St. Paul, Minnesota, picked up her second victory of the season at the Missouri Southern Stampede. Uwajeneza completed the 5k course in 16:43.6 and topped a field that included athletes from NCAA Division I Arkansas and several nationally-ranked NCAA Division II programs. She is also the first DII runner to go under 17 minutes on the course in Joplin, Missouri since 2015.
Uwajeneza, who previously competed for NJCAA Division I Iowa Central CC before attending West Texas A&M, is also undefeated in NCAA cross country competition. She went 2-for-2 in 2020, winning the Lone Star Conference Championships and the DII XC National Invite, while opening the 2021 campaign with a victory at the Texas Tech Open.
This is the second National Athlete of the Week honor for Uwajeneza during the cross country season. She previously earned the honor on November 3, 2020.
Sophomore | Akron, Ohio
According to the results of the All-Ohio Championships, hosted by Cedarville University this past weekend, Alex Phillip is the best in the Buckeye State.
Phillip became just the fourth NCAA Division III male athlete to win the individual title at the meet, crossing the finish line in 24:52.1. He joins William Jones of Fransiscan (2012), Mike Sawicki of Otterbein (2005) and Dave Cooper of Mount Union (1997) in that regard.
This is the first time in program history that a male athlete from John Carroll has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.
Junior | Manhattan, Kansas
Clara Mayfield ran away from the field at the St. Olaf Invitational this past weekend.
Mayfield won by nearly 41 seconds in 22:24.1 over a loaded field with four NCAA Division III top-35 programs. She led by 2.5 seconds at 1600m and extended it to 31.3 seconds by 5k.
This is the first time in program history that a female athlete from Carleton has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.
Freshman | Eldoret, Kenya
No one could have asked for a better debut from Nicholas Kiprotich.
The freshman won the Woody Greeno/Jay Dirksen Invitational in his first race for Iowa Western CC, covering the 8k course in 24:00.5 to beat defending NJCAA DI champion Kelvin Bungei of Iowa Central CC by nearly five seconds.
It was the first chance for the rest of the country to get a glimpse of Kiprotich, as the Reivers’ first meet was stopped in mid-race due to weather and their second event was canceled.
Kiprotich is the second male athlete from Iowa Western CC to be named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season, and the first since 2016.
Freshman | Eldoret, Kenya
Leading from start to finish, Mercy Biwott made her first race for Iowa Western CC a memorable won.
The freshman won the Woody Greeno/Jay Dirksen Invitational, clocking 16:57.0 for 5k to win by more than 10 seconds over Nebraska’s Erika Freyhof. The last Reiver to win this race was Faith Linga in 2019, the year she won the first of two NJCAA Division I titles.
Biwott is the third female athlete from Iowa Western CC to be named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.
Freshman | Spain
It could not have been any closer at the Missouri Southern Stampede, as Adrian Diaz-Lopez and Amos Pkiach crossed the finish line in identical times of 24:40.3 in the College/JC 8k race.
First place was awarded to Diaz-Lopez, who led Pkiach in a 2-3 finish for the Tigers in last year’s NJCAA Division II Cross Country Championships. On the track, Diaz-Lopez already has a national title, winning the NJCAA Indoor 3000 meters in March at 8:22.74.
Diaz-Lopez is the second male athlete from Cowley College to earn this recognition during the cross country season, joining Pkiach from late last year.
Sophomore | Goodwell, Oklahoma
Karissa Glover has settled in well as the top runner for the defending NJCAA Division II champion Tigers.
The sophomore finished in a strong fifth place as the top NJCAA Division II runner in the Missouri Southern Stampede with a time of 19:03.5 over 5k. Two weeks earlier she was the top juco runner of any division at the Terry Masterson Classic. She was 11th in last year’s NJCAA Division II championships.
Glover has good company as the second woman from Cowley to earn National Athlete of the Week honors during the cross country season – the only other Tiger is Lubna Suied, last year’s NJCAA Division II champion.
Sophomore | Schenectady, New York
Shazim Permaul continued his climb toward first place, finishing as a strong runner-up in the Fred Pavlich Invitational.
Permaul, who was timed in 27:39.8 over 8k, has been the top JUCO runner in all three races he’s run this fall for the Vikings.
He is the second male athlete from Hudson Valley (N.Y.) CC to be named National Athlete of the Week in cross country.
Sophomore | Joilet, Illinois
Tiffany Lehman has yet to lose a cross country race to another junior college runner.
The latest race for the defending NJCAA Division III cross country champion was a strong 11th-place finish in the Midwest Intercollegiate meet. Her time of 19:08.2 over 5k was the fastest in school history.
This is the sixth time Lehmann has been named National Athlete of the Week for cross country after earning it five times in 2020.