NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (Dec. 14)

NEW ORLEANS – Competition is heating up!

Here are those athletes who stood out the most and were named National Athletes of the Week on Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

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 eight collegiate 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 – Zach McWhorter, BYU

Sophomore | Pole Vault
Springdale, Arkansas

Zach McWhorter reached unprecedented heights.

Before this past weekend, no collegian had ever topped 5.79m (19-0) before January 16. McWhorter changed that, as he cleared 5.82m (19-1) this past weekend at the BYU December Invitational and matched the eighth-best performer in collegiate history (Istvan Bagyula).

It marked another strong start to the indoor season for McWhorter. Last year, McWhorter won his first four meets and entered the NCAA Championships with just one loss on his record. He eventually placed second in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with his previous PR of 5.80m (19-0¼).

This marks the first time since at least 2015 that an athlete from BYU has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Abby Steiner, Kentucky

Senior | Sprints
Dublin, Ohio

One of the oldest collegiate records is no longer.

Abby Steiner ripped 300 meters in 35.80 at the Cardinal Classic to take down Merlene Ottey’s 40-year-old all-time collegiate best of 35.86. Steiner also became the ninth-fastest woman – third American – in world history.

You might remember that Steiner is the co-collegiate indoor record holder in the 200 meters, too. Steiner turned one lap of the Randal Tyson Track Center in 22.38 to win the NCAA title back in March to match Gabby Thomas’ title-winning scorcher from 2018.

This is the first time in her career that Steiner has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Steiner is also the fifth female athlete from Kentucky to earn national honors during the indoor season in the past seven years (Marie-Josee Ebwea-Bile in 2019, Olivia Gruver and Sydney McLaughlin in 2018, and Sha’Keela Saunders in 2016 and 2017).

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Rashane Bartlett, Lincoln (Mo.)

Freshman | Sprints/Hurdles
Manchester, Jamaica

Three rounds, three wins, three PRs.

That’s how Rashane Bartlett’s busy Friday went at the Strive for Greatness Indoor Meet at Indiana Tech. An hour separated Bartlett’s 8.14 preliminary heat in the 60-meter hurdles and his 8.11 win in the semifinals that put him in the finals with the day’s third best time.

A thrilling final an hour later saw Bartlett’s 7.94 edge the 7.95 by reigning NAIA runner-up Coby Bailey of Indiana Tech as both hurdlers recorded lifetime bests. Bartlett’s time also gave him the NCAA Division II national lead.

This is the second time in program history that a male athlete from Lincoln (Mo.) has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Hannah Meek, UC-Colorado Springs

Senior | Jumps
Pueblo, Colorado

Hannah Meek’s final attempt in the long jump gave her two reasons to celebrate at the CRC Pre-Holiday Invite & Multi at UC-Colorado Springs.

With victory already secured, Meek soared 6.37m (20-10¾) – more than seven inches farther than her previous indoor PR. It also gave the Mountain Lion the farthest mark of the year in NCAA Division II by more than six inches – a standard previously held by reigning NCAA DII champion Cheyenne Williamson of Saginaw Valley.

Meek came back to improve her seasonal best in the triple jump, taking second at 12.30m (40-4¾).

This is the third time in program history that a female athlete from UC-Colorado Springs has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Mike Jasa, Loras

Senior | Sprints/Hurdles
Fairfax, Iowa

Mike Jasa picked up where he left off in the spring.

Jasa, who is the reigning NCAA Division III outdoor champion at 800 meters, covered that same distance in 1:50.13 at the Dubuque Championships this past weekend to set a PR and move up to No. 8 on the all-time indoor chart in NCAA DIII. If you convert that time from a flat track to a banked track, Jasa would rank No. 2 on the yearly collegiate chart this early in the season.

Later in the meet, Jasa anchored the Duhawks to an NCAA DIII-leading mark of 3:20.67 in the 4×400 relay. He also carried the baton last on Loras’ 4×400 relay that took runner-up honors at the NCAA DIII Outdoor Track & Field Championships back in May.

This is the second year in a row – and the third time in the past four years – that a male athlete from Loras has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Josh Smith took home national honors on February 2, 2021, while Patrick Mikel stood out the most among his peers on December 11, 2019.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Grace Alley, Loras

Sophomore | Combined Events
Dubuque, Iowa

Anybody can be top-2 nationally in one event.

But, two? In completely different events? That takes talent.

Grace Alley did just that this past weekend at the Dubuque Championships, where she set school records in both the pentathlon and triple jump. Alley totaled 3531 points in the multi with another pair of national top-20 marks in the mix and bounded 11.82m (38-9½) in the triple jump.

This marks the fourth year in a row that a female athlete from Loras has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Both Marion Edwards and Kassie Rosenbum (now Parker) were honored in 2021, while Terriana Black and Gabby Noland snagged weekly laurels in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

NJCAA MEN – Kendrick Winfield, Indian Hills (Iowa) CC

Sophomore | Sprints
Louisville, Kentucky

Twice was nice for Kendrick Winfield at the Iowa State Holiday Classic.

Winfield clocked two national-leading times, running 48.11 in the 400 meters for second place and winning the 200 meters in 21.45 in the span of some 90 minutes. Both marks rate No. 2 in Warriors history behind Kenny Bednarek.

This is the third time that a male athlete from Indian Hills has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season, and the first since Bednarek in 2019.

NJCAA WOMEN – Kahliyah Anderson, Indian Hills (Iowa) CC

Sophomore | Sprints
Texarkana, Texas

It took Kahliyah Anderson less than an hour to earn a piece of two national-leading times at the Iowa State Holiday Classic.

Anderson started off with a victory in the 200 meters in 24.92, the fastest time in Indian Hills history. She returned to the track 50 minutes later to anchor the Warriors’ 4×400 relay team with a 57.1 split as Indian Hills won by 4.70 seconds in 3:52.40.

This is the third time a female athlete from Indian Hills has beeen named National Athlete of the Week honors during the indoor season, and the second this year.