NCAA & NJCAA National Athletes of the Week (Oct. 5)
NOTE: Susan Ejore of Monroe College, an NJCAA Division I school, was erroneously awarded National Athlete of the Week honors for NJCAA Division III athletes on Monday. Ejore was listed in the TFRRS results for the NJIT Highlander XC Challenge as having competed for Monroe CC, which is an NJCAA DIII institution.
As such, Ejore has been updated to co-NJCAA DI National Athlete of the Week alongside Leanne Pomeani of Iowa Central. Ryleigh Donegan, who finished sixth in that same NJIT race, has been named the NJCAA DIII National Athlete of the Week.
NEW ORLEANS – Another big weekend in college cross country passed and with it came some strong performances. From those, we honor this week’s National Athletes of the Week in Division I, Division II, Division III and the NJCAA.
This week’s recipients are Michigan’s Mason Ferlic (Division I men), North Carolina State’s Ryen Frazier (Division I women), Southern Indiana’s Johnnie Guy (Division II men), Hillsdale’s Emily Oren (Division II women), Williams College’s Bijan Mazaheri (Division III men), Johns Hopkins’ Sophia Meehan (Division III women), Iowa Central CC’s Andrew Ronoh (NJCAA Division I men), Iowa Central CC’s Leanne Pomeani and Monroe College’s Susan Ejore (NJCAA Division I women), Mohawk Valley CC’s Zakaria Djouma (NJCAA Division III men) and Suffolk CC’s Ryleigh Donegan (NJCAA Division III women).
Find out more about each of these runners 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 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 / St. Paul, Minnesota
In a field that featured the largest collection of nationally ranked teams in the country with more than a dozen top-100 finishers from the 2014 NCAA Championships, it was Ferlic who emerged the individual victor in the Greater Louisville Classic’s Gold race.
The Wolverine senior pulled away from the lead group in the final kilometer, powering down the final homestretch to finish the 8K course in 23:51.6, nearly four seconds clear of the rest of the pack. Among those he pulled away from: All-Americans Edwin Kibichiy of Louisville (runner-up) and MJ Erb of Ole Miss (fourth), and top-100 finisher Chartt Miller of No. 8 Iona (third).
The win is his second of the season, and the second in a row on this weekend dating back to a victory a year ago at the Notre Dame Invitational. He and the Wolverines take on the loaded field at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational on October 16.
Freshman / Raleigh, North Carolina
From start to finish at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational this past Friday, there was a pack of six runners who worked together during a windy day. Four of them were from No. 1 New Mexico, another was the 2014 10K champ and the other was a freshman.
Guess who won. Yes. It was the freshman.
North Carolina State freshman Ryen Frazier showed why she is a force to be reckoned with on the national stage with a four-second win. Frazier covered the 5K course in 16:22.9 and followed up her record-breaking performance at the adidas XC Challenge in a big way.
This is Frazier’s second National Athlete of the Week honor (September 21). Frazier and the Wolfpack return to the course October 16 for the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
Senior / Palmyra, Indiana
In that same Greater Louisville Classic won by Ferlic, Johnnie Guy was the lone DII man among the lead group of national-caliber DI contenders. The former NCAA DII 10,000-meter track champ and two-time top-10 XC finisher hung with many of DI’s best as he finished eighth overall among more than 200 runners on the 8K course in Louisville in 24:06.8 – nearly 20 seconds ahead of the nearest DII competitor.
His Greater Louisville Classic showing comes on the heels of a mid-September runner-up finish at the Indiana Intercollegiates to only two-time DI All-American John Mascari of Indiana State. He and the Screaming Eagles next compete on October 17 at Evansville.
Senior / Holland, Michigan
After a thorough domination of the NCAA Division II track & field scene in 2015, it appears Emily Oren of Hillsdale might just do the same to the DII cross country circuit this fall. Oren finished fifth overall in the mostly NCAA DI Gold race at the Greater Louisville Classic, crossing the line on the 5K course in 17:07.1. She was part of a chase pack behind individual 1-2 finishers Erin Finn and Shannon Osika of Michigan, and was just three seconds away from a third-place overall finish.
This effort follows a fourth-place finish from mid-September’s Michigan State Spartan Invitational behind three DI runners and a win at her home invite. Next up for Hillsdale are the Michigan Intercollegiates this coming weekend.
Senior / Wellesley, Massachusetts
There was no bigger concentration of top-35 Division III teams at one meet this past weekend than that of the Paul Short Run hosted by Lehigh. While many were stuck in the Men’s Blue race, a select few got to mix it up with two top-15 DI teams (No. 7 Villanova and No. 14 Georgetown) in the Men’s Gold race.
Williams College senior Bijan Mazaheri didn’t back down last Friday as he finished seventh in the Gold race behind six runners who will be sure to leave their mark at the NCAA DI Cross Country Championships.
If Mazaheri competed in the Men’s Blue race and ran the same time he did in the Gold race, he would have won the individual title by 47 seconds.
Mazaheri and the Ephs will race this weekend at the Westfield Invitational.
Senior / Havertown, Pennsylvania
With each meet this season, Johns Hopkins senior Sophia Meehan is sending a clear message to the rest of the DIII women’s cross country field: If you want to dethrone the champ, you’re going to have to earn it.
Meehan turned in yet another strong performance, this time at the Paul Short Run last Friday hosted by Lehigh. She was the top DIII finisher in the Women’s Gold race, taking ninth place in 20:49.5. The next DIII finisher not from the top-ranked Blue Jays crossed the line more than 30 seconds behind Meehan.
This is Meehan’s second National Athlete of the Week honor of the season. Meehan earned her first nod following a second-place finish at the Iona College Paddy Doyle Meet of Champions on September 19.
She and her teammates head to Orlando, Florida this weekend for the Disney Classic.
Freshman / Nakuru, Kenya
The only thing hotter than the namesakes of the Chile Pepper Festival this past weekend were probably the spikes Iowa Central CC freshman Andrew Ronoh wore. Pitted against a strong field in which two notable Division I programs competed (No. 15 Arkansas and Tulsa), Ronoh didn’t bat an eye and finished runner-up. Ronoh covered the 8K course in 23:33.7 for his fastest time yet in that distance.
This is Ronoh’s second National Athlete of the Week honor of the season. Ronoh’s first recognition came after he won the Woody Greeno/Nebraska Invitational two weeks ago.
Freshman / Canberra, Australia
Iowa Central CC freshman Leanne Pompeani wasn’t afraid to mix it up this past weekend at the Chile Pepper Festival. Racing against some top-notch Division I talent, Pompeani took seventh in the stacked field and was within shouting distance of fourth. Pompeani traversed the 5K course in 16:43.1.
This is Pompeani’s third National Athlete of the Week honor this season. Pompeani went back to back during the weeks of September 14 and September 21.
Co-NJCAA Division I Women – Susan Ejore, Monroe College
Freshman / Nakuru, Kenya
Racing in the rain didn’t bother Monroe College freshman Susan Ejore this past weekend at the NJIT Technology XC Challenge. Ejore ran away from the field and beat teammate Nokuthula Dlamini to the line by eight seconds. NJCAA DIII National Athlete of the Week honoree Ryleigh Donegan of Suffolk CC was in the field as well.
Freshman / Utica, New York
Mohawk Valley freshman Zakaria Djouma impressed yet again. Djouma held off another freshman en route to a victory at the Cazenovia Homecoming Invitational last Saturday.
This is Djouma’s third National Athlete of the Week honor of the season.
Freshman / Center Moriches, New York
Earning her second National Athlete of the Week award of the year, Donegan continued her impressive collegiate debut season with a sixth-place finish at the NJIT Highlander XC Challenge. She was the top NJCAA DIII finisher by nearly 45 seconds as she crossed the line on the 5K course in 18:45.3 for one of the fastest performances in NJCAA DIII this season.