Cheserek, Seidel, Fox & Franklin 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 Louisville, Kentucky, this past weekend.
NCAA Division I Cross Country individual champions Edward Cheserek of Oregon and Molly Seidel of Notre Dame were named the men’s and women’s USTFCCCA National Athletes of the Year, respectively.
Chris Fox of Syracuse and Joe Franklin of New Mexico earned men’s and women’s National Coach of the Year honors, respectively, in leading their teams to national titles.
MEN’S NATIONAL ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Edward Cheserek, Oregon
Cheserek continued his reign over collegiate cross country in 2015, winning his third NCAA Division I individual title in an unprecedented third consecutive season. The junior out of Newark, New Jersey, joins Gerry Lindgren, Steve Prefontaine and Henry Rono as three-time individual champions, but now stands alone as the only man in DI history to win three titles in a row.
He’s proven he’s capable of winning no matter how the race unfolds. In 2013 he had to chase down reigning champ Kennedy Kithuka. Last year was a 2000-meter dash to the finish. This past weekend he had to outduel a determined Patrick Tiernan of Villanova, who pushed the pace from the word “go”.
By 8000 meters it was only him and Tiernan, but not for long. The junior found another gear over the final mile and crossed the line in 28:45.8 – 25.3 seconds clear of the Aussie Wildcat for the fifth-biggest margin of victory in meet history.
His NCAA crown was his fifth win of the season, including titles at the West Region and Pac-12 championships.
WOMEN’S NATIONAL ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Molly Seidel, Notre Dame
When Molly Seidel kicked it into high gear late in the season, no one could match her.
After finishing third at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational and second in Madison, Wisconsin, at the adidas Invitational, Seidel turned it up a notch.
Seidel, a senior, left the field in the rear-view mirror at the ACC Championships in Tallahassee, Florida, and then romped to a second consecutive victory, this time at the Great Lakes Region Championships in Madison once again.
Then last weekend at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, Seidel pulled away from the pack at 4K and never looked back. Seidel won by five seconds and captured her second national title (2015 outdoor 10,000 meters).
As an aside, Seidel also broke the “Foot Locker Curse.” Prior to Seidel, no woman who had won the Foot Locker Cross Country Championship had also won an NCAA XC title.
BILL DELLINGER MEN’S NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR
Chris Fox, Syracuse
Coming into this weekend, it has been 64 years since the NCAA Division I Men’s Cross Country team championship trophy had resided in Syracuse, New York. That was before 11th-year head coach Fox and his Orangemen dethroned two-time defending national champion Colorado in Louisville on Saturday, 82-91.
Led by the nation’s best 1-2-3 combination of Justyn Knight (fourth), Colin Bennie (eighth) and Martin Hehir (ninth), Fox’s men took command of the race early and never looked back. They led at both the 2000-meter and 5200-meter checkpoints, and were tied for the lead with Colorado with 2k left to go. That’s when unheralded Philo Germano moved up from Cuse’s sixth man to their No. 4 with an All-American 39th-place finish.
The national title capped an undefeated season for the Orange, who also claimed decisive wins at the Northeast Regional, the ACC Championships, the Wisconsin adidas Invitational and the Boston College Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown.
PETER TEGEN WOMEN’S NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR
Joe Franklin, New Mexico
Following a dominant win at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, Joe Franklin sat his team down and let them know they had a chance – a chance to be one of the greatest teams in history. In fact, Franklin used the word “potential” to convey that message.
It takes a special coach to help an athlete realize that potential and Franklin did just that with the Lady Lobos, which is why he is the recipient of the Peter Tegen Award.
What New Mexico did this season – especially at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships is nothing short of historic. This past weekend in Louisville, Kentucky, the Lady Lobos dominated – just like it had done the entire season.
New Mexico put five runners in the top-25 – including two in the top-5 (senior Courtney Frerichs was fourth, Alice Wright took fifth) – and scored 49 points, the fewest tallied by a winning team in the modern era. The Lady Lobos also won by 80 points, which turned out to be the fifth largest margin of victory in meet history.
This was New Mexico’s first women’s national XC title in program history.