Cheserek, Avery, Wetmore & Drenth Earn National Awards for Division I Cross Country
Award History
NCAA DI XC National Awards

Cheserek, Avery, Wetmore & Drenth Earn National Awards for Division I Cross Country

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced Tuesday its National Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the NCAA Division I Cross Country season following the championships in Terre Haute, Ind., this past weekend, as voted on by the nation’s coaches.

NCAA Division I Cross Country individual champions Edward Cheserek of Oregon and Kate Avery of Iona were named the men’s and women’s USTFCCCA National Athletes of the Year, respectively.

Mark Wetmore of Colorado and Walt Drenth of Michigan State earned the Bill Dellinger National Men’s Coach of the Year and the Peter Tegen National Women’s Coach of the Year, respectively, in leading their teams to national titles.

Men’s National Athlete of the Year

Photo: Kyle Terwillegar/USTFCCCA

Edward Cheserek, Oregon

Recent Winners:
2013: Edward Cheserek, Oregon
2012: Kennedy Kithuka, Texas Tech
2011: Lawi Lalang, Arizona
2010: Sam Chelanga, Liberty
2009: Sam Chelanga, Liberty
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Edward Cheserek has transformed collegiate cross country. On a day where conditions were favorable enough for another award winner to nearly break the course record, his 30:19.4 10k was the fourth slowest winning mark in NCAA history.  With his borderline unprecedented combination of strength and speed, Cheserek is so good that large and talented fields spend the first half of races waiting for him to make his move.  His move in Terre Haute this weekend came with 2000 meters to go.

The only runner to beat the Oregon sophomore this year was Stanford’s Maksim Korolev, who won the West Region.  Before nationals, Cheserek collected wins at the Battle in Beantown, Pre-Nationals, and the Pac-12 championship.

The Kenyan is an alum of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey. He’s the first Oregon runner to win back-to-back cross country national championships since Steve Prefontaine, and the first runner period to start his college career with two titles since Henry Rono. Cheserek’s teammate and training partner Eric Jenkins took second, making the Ducks the first team to take the first two places in 25 years.


Women’s National Athlete of the Year

Photo: Kyle Terwillegar/USTFCCCA

Kate Avery, Iona

Recent Winners
2013: Abbey D’Agostino, Dartmouth
2012: Betsy Saina, Iowa State
2011: Sheila Reid, Villanova
2010: Sheila Reid, Villanova
2009: Angela Bizzarri, Illinois
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Kate Avery started her season later than just about everyone else in the NCAA, but it was worth the wait.  The junior started her season on Halloween with a dominating 102-second margin of victory at the MAAC meet, then won regionals by 23 seconds and nationals by eight.

For the second year in a row, Avery aggressively pushed the pace.  Unlike last year, when she slightly faded to third place, Avery had the fitness to take her to the finish line untouched. When her competitors backed off a hair at 2k, Avery kept her foot on the gas, and opened up a large gap. Her time of 19:31 is just three seconds shy of Olympic silver medallist Sally Kipyego’s course record.

She’s the first runner from Iona to win NCAAs, and only the fourth woman not from a power conference to win nationals.  Avery is also the first woman from England to win an NCAA cross country title.



Bill Dellinger Men’s National Coach of the Year

Photo: Kyle Terwillegar/USTFCCCA

Recent Winners
2013: Mark Wetmore, Colorado
2012: Dave Smith, Oklahoma State
2011: Mick Byrne, Wisconsin
2010: Dave Smith, Oklahoma State
2009: Dave Smith, Oklahoma State
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Mark Wetmore, Colorado

Mark Wetmore’s teams are paeans to the possibilities of developing talent. Since 2001, every men’s team to win cross country nationals has had at least one national or junior national record holder except for the 2004, 2006, 2013, and 2014 Colorado teams.

This is Wetmore’s third Bill Dellinger Award, after 2006 and 2013.  Wetmore has proven he can win as the underdog—those ’06 and ’13 teams were not ranked No. 1 going into nationals—and as the favorite.  This edition of the Buffaloes is the first team in the 18-year history of the USTFCCCA polling archives to be unanimously ranked No. 1 for the entire season and win a national title.

A year after winning with the highest score in NCAA history, Colorado’s 65 points this year were the lowest in nine years. Ammar Moussa was 5th, Ben Saarel was 7th, Blake Theroux  was 9th, Connor Winter was 24th, and Pierce Murphy was 35th, giving the Buffaloes five All-Americans.

Wetmore’s men’s teams have won five national championships in his 20 seasons as the head coach, more than any other program in that period.


Peter Tegen Women’s National Coach of the Year

Photo: Kyle Terwillegar/USTFCCCA

Recent Winners
2013: Ray Treacy, Providence
2012: Robert Johnson, Oregon
2011: Chris Miltenberg, Georgetown
2010: Gina Procaccio, Villanova
2009: Gina Procaccio, Villanova
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Walt Drenth, Michigan State

Walt Drenth’s Michigan State women’s team raced and dominated early and often this fall. For their performance at nationals, Drenth wins his first Peter Tegen Award. In fact, this is the first time a Big Ten women’s coach has been the national coach of the year, and the Spartans’ national title is the first for the conference since Wisconsin won in 1985.

Rachele Schulist took 4th and Lindsay Clark was 11th to lead the way for the Spartans.  Closing out their scoring in 17th, 21st, and 65th were seniors Leah O’Connor, Julia Otwell, and Lindsay Clark.  Famously, Drenth promised the three that they could graduate together and lined up their redshirts accordingly. Six of their seven runners at NCAAs are from Michigan.

The 62 point win over runner-up Iowa State is one of the biggest margins in NCAA history; that comes on the heels of dominant wins earlier this season at Roy Griak, Wisconsin, and Big Tens.

Michigan State has won four conference titles since Drenth took over the program in 2006. This is their first national title.