DII Conference Champs Stevens and Hovind Honored as National Athletes of the Week
NEW ORLEANS—Division II took center stage this past weekend. With DI and DIII off before next weekend’s regionals, the DII calendar was packed with conference championships. The National Athletes of the Week, released Monday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), brought strikingly different résumés to their conference meets but both took away the same thing: a conference title.
Adams State senior Tabor Stevens is no stranger to national recognition—he’s a four-time NCAA champion—while Northern State sophomore Sasha Hovind was honored for what we believe to be her first-ever cross country win.
Both have this weekend off before continuing the march to nationals with the season’s penultimate meet: their respective regional championships on Saturday, November 22.
Click each of the student-athletes names above or keep scrolling below to read about the exploits that made borth worthy.
National Athlete of the Week is an award selected and presented by the USTFCCCA Communications Staff at the beginning of each week to six collegiate cross country athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions).
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.
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 | Canon City, Colorado
Twice in the last three years, a runner from the RMAC has won the NCAA individual championship after losing his conference meet. Tabor Stevens was one of those last year; after winning the nation’s toughest conference title in 2012, he only finished third at RMACs before winning NCAAs in 2013. After reclaiming his conference title on Saturday, Stevens looks to reunite the belts this fall. "Tabor Flav" ran 8k (45 meters shy of five miles) in 25:20 for the win.
Stevens beat teammate Kevin Batt on Saturday by 16 seconds, and the rest of the field by 21 seconds. While the duo ran a seemingly pedestrian mid-25s 8k, they also did so at 7700 feet above sea level at Western State’s home course. They have two weeks off before racing at the slightly less punishing altitude (5300 feet) at regionals in Denver.
Honorable mention: Nick Hall, Ashland
Sophmore | Stirum, North Dakota
In her last two regular-season races, Northern State sophomore Sasha Hovind lost to conference rivals Molly Montonye and Samantha Rivard. Going into the Northern Sun meet, those two were the clear favorites. Their combined All-American awards made Hovind’s zero national appearances and 17:57 5k PB look pretty limp. Good thing that races exist, though. Hovind and Rivard were well clear of the field when Hovind dropped Rivard on the course’s final hill. The Wolf (her school’s first conference champ in 26 years) won by five seconds, covering 6k in 21:19. Her next race is the Central Region championships in Wayne, Nebraska.
Honorable mention: Lauren Lehman, Bloomsburg