Near-Record Performance Highlights NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week

Near-Record Performance Highlights NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week

NEW ORLEANS — With each passing week we get closer to the NCAA and NJCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships.

If these past few weeks are any indication, it’s going to be an exciting time to figure out who the best of the best is.

These following athletes, however, were the cream of the crop this past weekend in the NCAA and NJCAA and were named National Athletes of the Week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. They are:

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 eight collegiate indoor track & field athletes (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.

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 — Woody Kincaid, Portland

Senior | Littleton, Colorado

The field for the 3000 at this past weekend’s TrackTown USA High Performance Meet wasn’t big, but it was stacked. Portland’s Woody Kincaid dueled with several big-time runners including 2013 Bowerman Award winner Cam Levins, Paul Chelimo and the two-time NCAA indoor champ Eric Jenkins.

When the dust settled, Kincaid finished in 7:48.89, which left him atop of the NCAA Division I National Descending Order List and two seconds off the all-time top-10. It should also be mentioned that Kincaid sits atop the NDOL in the 5000.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Akela Jones, Kansas State

Senior | St. Michael, Barbados
Combined Events

Jones, who is a National Athlete of the Week for the second time this month, turned in one of the all-time great collegiate pentathlon performances this weekend at her home DeLoss Dodds Invitational. She came up just 35 points shy of the collegiate record in the event with a career-best 4643 points, giving her the No. 2 score in college history and the best-ever score by a collegian in the month of January.

We recapped her phenomenal day in depth on Friday, but here are some of the highlights. She cleared 1.85m (6-¾) in the high jump and just narrowly clipped the bar at 1.88 (6-2) – a height that would given her a share of the best-ever height achieved during a college pentathlon. Later, she soared a career-best and then-collegiate-leading 6.64m (21-9½) in the long jump and an indoor career-best 2:25.63 800-meter finale to make her just the second collegian to break the 4600-point barrier.

As the 2016 season stands, Jones is the collegiate leader in both the pentathlon and the high jump, is No. 2 in the long jump, and is No. 4 in the 60-meter hurdles. Per the IAAF, she’s the world leader in the pentathlon, No. 3 in the long jump, No. 7 in the high jump and No. 16 in the 60 hurdles.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Johnnie Guy, Southern Indiana

Senior | Palmyra, Indiana

Guy, a former 10,000-meter national champion outdoors, continues to display and improve upon his range with his latest performance at the Indiana Gladstein Invitational. The senior ran a career-best 8:05.22 over 3000 meters to finish sixth overall as the third-best collegian in a mostly DI and professional field. The time was a career-best by more than four seconds, and it puts him at No. 11 on the 2016 all-college descending list in the event.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Jamie Sindelar, Ashland

Senior | Athens, Ohio

It may only be January, but Sindelar – last year’s national runner-up in the indoor shot put – is already rounding into championships form. With a third-round heave of 16.57m (54-4½) to win the Tiffin Dragon Open, she came within 30 centimeters of her GLIAC-winning PR from a year ago and took a lead of more than four feet over the next-best DII thrower. Though ultimately what matters is how athletes perform at the NCAA Championships – Sindelar was also the DII indoor leader a year ago before finishing runner-up at NCAAs – her mark is superior to the winning marks at both the NCAA DII Indoor and Outdoor Championships a year ago.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN — Deko Ricketts, Washington (Mo.)

Junior | Kansas City, Missouri

Twenty-six-year-old school records don’t stand a chance when Washington (Mo.)’s Deko Ricketts hits the track.

This past weekend at the I-55 Triangular, Ricketts blistered the field in the 800 en route to a winning time of 1:53.83. It shattered the previous school record set in 1990 and put him on top of the NCAA Division III National Descending Order List.

Later in the meet, Ricketts anchored the Bears’ 4×400 team to a victory. That helped WashU win the meet title for the fifth consecutive year.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN — Melanie Winters, Baldwin Wallace

Senior | Stow, Ohio

This past weekend Baldwin Wallace senior Melanie Winters won not one, not two, but three individual titles at the OAC Split Meet hosted by Mount Union.

After winning the 60 (7.94) and 60 hurdles (8.99), Winters dominated the long jump. Winters soared 5.77m (18-11 ¼), beating the runner-up by more than one foot and taking over the top spot in the NCAA Division III National Descending Order List.

NJCAA MEN — Festus Lagat, Gillette College

Freshman | Eldoret, Kenya

Gillette College freshman Festus Lagat wasn’t happy with only two top spots in the NJCAA National Descending Order List. Lagat went out and captured a third this past weekend in the 5000 at the Dave Little Alumni Meet.

In addition to his altitude-converted 5000 time of 14:28.74, Lagat is tops in the NJCAA in the mile (4:08.86) and 800 (1:50.98). That’s showing some range.

NJCAA WOMEN — Leanne Pompeani, Iowa Central

Freshman | Canberra, Australia

Leanne Pompeani. Remember that name from cross country?

Well, she’s back at it again on the track.

Running her first-ever indoor 5000, Pompeani shattered a school record and took over the national lead thanks to her time of 17:15.78.

The following day, Pompeani returned to the track and clocked a 5:09.37 in the mile.