NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (Feb. 1)

NEW ORLEANS – This season just keeps getting better!

Here are the National Athletes of the Week in NCAA and NJCAA Indoor Track & Field for February 1!

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 – Ayden Owens, Arkansas

Sophomore | Combined Events
Wexford, Pennsylvania

Take a break, Ayden.

You deserve it.

Owens had a weekend to remember as he recorded PRs in four of the seven events in the heptathlon to amass 6271 points, which cemented him as the No. 2 performer in collegiate history behind 2010 The Bowerman winner Ashton Eaton. It was nearly 12 years ago when Eaton set the current collegiate record – and former world record – of 6499 points.

After wrapping up Day 1 of the heptathlon at the Razorback Invitational with 3476 points, more than 100 behind leader Kyle Garland of Georgia, Owens went to work on Day 2. Owens added 1012 points to his total with a 7.88 clocking in the 60 hurdles, 865 more in the pole vault when he cleared 4.85m (15-11) and wrapped competition with a 2:35.93, 919-point effort in the 1000.

All told, Owens turned a 152-point deficit into a 109-point win in just three events.

This is the first time that an Arkansas male athlete has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season since at least 2015.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Jasmine Moore, Florida

Junior | Horizontal Jumps
Grand Prairie, Texas

All hail, Jasmine Moore!

The new Queen of the Indoor Triple Jump.

Moore, competing inside the same building and on the same runway that 2018 The Bowerman winner Keturah Orji set the collegiate record in the triple jump four years ago, topped that mark at the Bob Pollock Invitational this past weekend. The native of Grand Prairie, Texas, bounded 14.55m (47-9), which bested Orji’s previous all-time best of 14.53m (47-8).

That record effort was part of a field series in which Moore notched each of the top-4 marks among collegians this week: 14.55m (47-9), 14.35m (47-1), 14.28m (46-10¼), 14.22m (46-8).

This is the second time in the past three years that Moore has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season, as well as the first time a female athlete from Florida has captured this distinction since at least 2015. Moore previously earned the honor on February 4, 2020, while competing as a member of Georgia’s track & field’s program.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – American International DMR

History is written by the victors.

American International won the distance medley relay at the John Thomas Terrier Classic and broke the NCAA DII record in the process. The Yellow Jackets’ quartet of Gavin Smith, Marvin Dure, Clement Paillon and Callum Elson finished first in 9:36.62 to break the previous record of 9:40.14 set by Western Oregon in 2017. It also topped the all-conditions best of 9:39.38 set by Grand Valley State last year.

AIC wasn’t the only DII program to go under the old divisional record. Simon Fraser, who finished third in the field, clocked 9:38.04 for the second-fastest time in DII history.

This is the second time this season that a male athlete(s) have been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Bernice Cleyet-Merle, UIndy

Senior | Middle Distance
Saint-Sulpice-Des-Rivoires, France

The reigning NCAA DII Champion in the 800 is back and better than ever.

Berenice Cleyet-Merle clocked the second-fastest 800 in NCAA Division II history as she went on to win the IU Relays. Her time of 2:03.89 topped the Division I field by more than three seconds and is the fastest time turned in by a collegian in 2021. She also demolished her PR and UIndy school record by nearly three seconds, topping her old best of 2:06.80 set last year at the GVSU Big Meet.

If you look elsewhere on the DII leaderboard, you’ll also find Cleyet-Merle at No. 1 in the Mile. Her time of 4:40.84 at the Hoosier Open in December makes her the eighth-best performer in divisional history.

This is the second time that Cleyet-Merle has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. She previously earned the honor on February 16, 2021.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Aidan Ryan, Williams

Senior | Distance
New York, New York

Aidan Ryan is rewriting NCAA Division III history one event at a time.

Just a few weeks after clocking an NCAA DIII all-time best over 3000 meters, Ryan etched his name into the record book once again – but this time at the mile distance. Ryan obliterated the NCAA DIII record this past weekend at the John Thomas Terrier Classic when he stopped the clock at 3:56.88 and became just the second man in divisional history under 4 minutes.

Not only that, but Ryan was also the fastest collegiate miler this past weekend on a record-eligible, 200-meter track, regardless of division. If we take it a step further, using the same criteria, Ryan is now the second-fastest collegian this season behind Olin Hacker of Wisconsin.

This is the second time this season that Ryan has been named National Athlete of the Week. Ryan previously earned the award two weeks ago after his all-time effort at the UW Preview.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Ari Marks, Wellesley

Senior | Distance
Eagle Point, Oregon

Ari Marks burst onto the scene during the cross country season.

Now, she’s staying in the spotlight thanks to her strong running indoors.

Marks, who finished runner-up at the 2021 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships back in November (which was her only loss of the season), became the 11th-fastest performer in divisional history in the 5000 this past weekend with her 16:38.21 effort in Boston. It was also the seventh-fastest mark by a collegian over the past week.

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

NJCAA MEN – Caleb Jackson, Butler (Kan.) CC

Sophomore | Sprints
Pleasant Grove, Alabama

It took Caleb Jackson all of 6.58 seconds to move high up the all-time NJCAA chart in the 60 meters.

How high? All the way to a share of No. 3 in becoming just the sixth man in NJCAA history to run sub-6.60. Jackson needed every ounce of that speed, as Antoine Evans of Coffeyville (Kan.) ran 6.60 for second in a close finish at the Wendy’s/Pittsburg State Invitational.

Jackson leads an impressive sprint group at Butler, whose squad owns five of this year’s seven fastest 60 times in the nation.

Jackson is the second male athlete from Butler to earn this honor in indoor track & field, and the first since 2018.

NJCAA WOMEN – Kimeone McLeod, New Mexico JC

Sophomore | Hurdles
St. Catherine Parish, Jamaica

For the third meet in January, Kimeone McLeod has run a lifetime best in the 60-meter hurdles. This time, McLeod’s exploits have put her into the all-time NJCAA top-10 list.

McLeod’s fastest effort of 8.40 came this weekend in winning the Wendy’s/Pittsburg State Invitational, moving into a tie for No. 9 all-time among NJCAA hurdlers. That lowered her PR from the 8.48 she ran at the Red Raider Invitational after opening the season at 8.54. McLeod was runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles at last year’s NJCAA Outdoor Championships.

McLeod is the sixth female athlete from New Mexico JC to be named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season, and the first since 2020.