NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (Jan. 18)

NEW ORLEANS – How great was this past weekend!?

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 – Matthew Boling, Georgia

Sophomore | Sprints/Jumps
Houston, Texas

You know what’s better than one? Two.

What’s even better than that? Doing something that had never been done in world history.

Matthew Boling made headlines this past weekend with his efforts at the Clemson Invitational.

First, Boling soared 8.25m (27-0¾) in the long jump on Friday to record the best January leap by a collegian since current collegiate record holder Miguel Pate back in 2002. That also moved Boling up to No. 15 on the all-time collegiate chart, less than one inch from the all-time top-10.

Then, Boling doubled back with a scintillating 20.49 national-leader in the 200. That matched the time that he ran to qualify second out of the prelims at the NCAA DI Indoor Championships last year and eventually won the national title by 0.01 seconds over Terrance Laird of LSU.

All told, no man in world history has that combination, let alone in the same weekend.

This is the first time since 2017 that male athlete from Georgia has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season (Kendal Williams on February 21, 2017).

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Grace Stark, Florida

Junior | Hurdles/Sprints
White Lake, Michigan

Grace Stark.

Remember the name.

Stark went 7.86 in the 60 hurdles at the Clemson Invitational this past weekend to move into a tie for third on the all-time collegiate chart with former LSU standout Tonea Marshall. Only collegiate record holder Brianna Rollins (7.78) and Virginia Powell (7.84) sit above them in collegiate lore.

This isn’t Stark’s first brush with history, though.

Stark set a world U20 all-time best in the event last year at the SEC Indoor Championships with her mark of 7.91. She finished second at the meet behind Marshall, who ran 7.89.

This is the first time in program history that a female athlete from Florida has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Wes Ferguson, Nebraska-Kearney

Redshirt Sophomore | Middle Distance
Fremont, Nebraska

Wes Ferguson is making a name for himself.

The freshman from Fremont, Nebraska won the 1000m at the Nebraska Graduate Classic. Ferguson snuck past NCAA Division I All-American Adam Fogg of Drake in the final straightaway to win the event in 2:23.80, establishing a new NCAA Division II record in the process. That time is also the second-best time turned in by a collegian this season.

Ferguson is also the NCAA DII leader in the 800 meters. His time of 1:49.8 on the Descending Order List came from the UNK Pre-Holiday Classic on December 10, 2021.

This is the first time in program history that an athlete from UNK has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Alison Andrews-Paul, Simon Fraser

Junior | Middle Distance
Ohope Beach, New Zealand

Alison Andrews-Paul was unmatched at the UW Preview.

The junior from New Zealand opened up her season with a strong victory in the 800 meters. Andrews-Paul crossed the line in 2:08.61 to win by eight seconds over the second place finisher. She sits at the top of the NCAA Division II Descending Order List leader in the event and is ranked No. 10 among collegians this year.

This is the second time in program history that a female athlete from Simon Fraser has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Lindsey Butterworth earned the honor nearly seven years ago on January 20, 2015.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Aidan Ryan, Williams

Senior | Distance
New York, New York

Aidan Ryan ran faster over 3000 meters indoors than anybody in NCAA DIII history.

Ryan stopped the clock at 7:55.29 this past weekend at the 2022 UW Preview to set an NCAA DIII all-time best in the event. And while it’s superior to Dan Meyer’s 28-year-old NCAA DIII record of 7:59.23, Ryan ran on an oversized 300-meter track inside the Dempsey Indoor and the collegiate record book only counts for 200-meter tracks. However, if you convert Ryan’s time for qualification purposes, it comes out to be 8:00.81, which is promising for future efforts.

This is the second time in the past three years that Ryan has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Ryan previously earned the honor on December 10, 2020.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Isabel Maletich, UChicago

Senior | Jumps
Woodridge, Illinois

Isabel Maletich is back at it again.

Maletich, who swept the horizontal jumps at the 2021 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships, soared into the national lead in both the long jump and triple jump this past weekend with her efforts at the North Central College Cardinal Opener. She went 5.86m (19-2¾) in the long jump and bounded 12.01m (39-5) in the triple jump to win both events and remain undefeated through two meets this season.

This is the second time in program history that a female athlete from UChicago has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Maletich joins Laura Darcey, who earned the honor two years ago thanks to an all-time effort in the pentathlon, in that regard.

NJCAA MEN – Adrian Diaz-Lopez, Cowley (Kan.)

Sophomore | Distance
Cazorla, Spain

Adrian Diaz-Lopez opened up his indoor season just where he left off with cross country in the fall – on top.

The NJCAA Division II cross country champ was brilliant twice at the Washburn Rust Buster in Topeka, Kansas. He started off in the mile to win with a PR of 4:13.87, the No. 2 time in the nation. Later that afternoon, Diaz-Lopez came back with the NJCAA’s season leader in the 3000 meters at 8:23.81, his second-best in the event only to the 8:22.74 he used to win last year’s NJCAA Indoor title.

This is the first time an athlete from Cowley has been named National Athlete of the Week in indoor track & field. For Diaz-Lopez, it’s his second such honor across all sports, having already earned such distinction in the recent cross country season.

NJCAA WOMEN – Kiara Brown, Butler (Kan.) CC

Sophomore | Sprints
Dallas, Texas

Kiara Brown had a busy week that ended with two national-leading marks in two different states.

Brown’s unique odyssey started Thursday at the Shocker Prelude in Wichita, Kansas, where she PRed twice in the 60 meters in winning with the NJCAA’s best mark of 7.54.

On Friday, Butler’s team was in Fayetteville for the Arkansas Invitational, where Brown started the afternoon with a nation-leading 400 of 56.05. She then clocked 24.46 in the 200 – No. 2 on the NJCAA seasonal list – before anchoring the Butler 4×400 team with a 55.34 split and the No. 2 mark in the nation at 3:51.61. Last year, Brown ran the leadoff leg for the Grizzlies’ winning team at the NJCAA Outdoor Championships.

Brown is the first female athlete from Butler to earn National Athlete of the Week honors in track & field (indoors or outdoors) or cross country.