NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (February 18)

NEW ORLEANS – You better believe the final major weekend of the collegiate indoor track & field season brought the heat!

Here are the eight performers that stood out the most and were named National Athletes of the Week on Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

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 as well as 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. Nominated athletes are noticed before those athletes found through searching TFRRS.

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 – KC Lightfoot, Baylor

Sophomore | Pole Vault
Lee’s Summit, Missouri

Consistency, thy name is KC Lightfoot.

The sophomore from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, topped 5.79m (19-0) in the pole vault for the third consecutive week – a feat that hadn’t been done since 2015 (Shawn Barber) – but this past weekend he did it with style. It was at the Iowa State Classic where Lightfoot topped 5.83m (19-1½) to beat rival Chris Nilsen of South Dakota and match the No. 5 performer in collegiate history.

This is the first time that any athlete from Baylor – male or female – has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. It is also the third time this season that a male athlete from the Big 12 Conference has nabbed this honor.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Olivia Gruver, Washington

Senior | Pole Vault
Reisterstown, Maryland

Tough competition doesn’t scare Olivia Gruver.

It inspires her to reach new heights.

The senior from Reisterstown, Maryland, finished third at the USATF Indoor Championships this past weekend and notched the second best clearance in collegiate history in the process when she topped 4.70m (15-5) on her first attempt. Gruver had sat third on the all-time chart, but this clearance popped her ahead of former Arkansas great Lexi Jacobus.

When the bar went to the next height – 4.75m (15-7) – Gruver had a chance at tying the five-year-old collegiate record set by Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin. Gruver gave it three good attempts, but came up short and settled for an improved collegiate lead.

This is the second time in her career that Gruver has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Gruver previously earned the honor back on January 16, 2018, as a member of the Kentucky track & field team.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Jonte Baker, Tiffin

Senior | Sprints
Cleveland, Ohio

Jonte Baker bolted to the top of the NCAA Division II leaderboard.

The senior from Cleveland, Ohio, put together a series of strong performances in the 60 at the USATF Indoor Championships this past weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Baker recorded times of 6.67 and 6.62 in the preliminaries and semifinals, respectively, before placing eighth in the finals in 6.67. He is 0.01 seconds shy of his personal best of 6.61, which currently has him as the No. 6 performer all-time. 

This is the first time in his career that Baker has been named National Athlete of the Week.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Bobbie Goodwin, Grand Valley State

Senior | Throws
South Haven, Michigan

Welcome to the record books, Bobbie Goodwin.

The senior from South Haven, Michigan, etched her name onto the NCAA Division II all-time list this past weekend at the GVSU BIg Meet. Goodwin won the weight throw with a heave of 21.12m (69-3½) to become the No. 9 performer in NCAA DII history. She now leads the country by more than 5 feet over the next best performer.

This is the second time this season that Goodwin has been named National Athlete of the Week, previously earning the honor on January 28.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Williams DMR

No team was faster than Williams in the Distance Medley Relay this past weekend at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational.

And only one team has ran faster than the Ephs in NCAA Division III history.

Williams got the baton around in 9:46.98, which is the second fastest mark in NCAA DIII history behind Middlebury’s standard of 9:46.95 set three years ago. It is also the 14th fastest performance across all collegiate divisions this season.

Tristian Colaizzi opened things up with a 3:01.25 over 1200 meters. Kevin LeFleche turned 400 meters in 48.71. Cole O’Flaherty covered 800 meters in 1:52.33. Then Aidan Ryan closed things out with a 1600-meter anchor leg of 4:04.67.

This is the second time this season that the Williams program has taken home a National Athlete of the Week honor during the indoor season. Aidan Ryan won it by himself back on December 10.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Parley Hannan, Ithaca

Senior | Distance
Orlean, Virginia

Parley Hannan just keeps getting faster.

The senior from Orlean, Virginia, stepped up to the plate this past weekend at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational and knocked her opportunity out of the park.

Running in the elite section of the Women’s 5000 Meters, Hannan more than kept up as she finished fifth behind 2009 The Bowerman winner Jenny Simpson and a host of NCAA Division I athletes. Hannan crossed the finish line in 16:05.36 and obliterated the previous NCAA DIII record by more than 17 seconds.

When you take into account every collegiate performance this season, Hannan currently sits 14th on the All-College Descending Order List, cementing her spot as one of the best, regardless of division.

Oh. Hannan returned to the track the next evening and anchored Ithaca to a national-leading mark in the Distance Medley Relay.

This is the third time this season that Hannan has been named National Athlete of the Week. Hannan earned back-to-back honors on January 14 and January 21.

NJCAA MEN – Moitalel Mpoke, South Plains (Texas)

Sophomore | Mid-Distance
Kilgoris, Kenya

Moitalel Mpoke has been untouchable this year.

The sophomore from Kilgoris, Kenya, won his fourth race in four tries this winter, blistering a 1:06.93 for 600 yards in winning the Texas Tech Shootout by two seconds. Not only did the time better the best ever by a collegian on any size track (1:07.43), it also smashed the world best of 1:07.53 set by Mark Everett in 1992.

Mpoke is the first male athlete from South Plains (Texas) to earn National Athlete of the Week honors indoors since Laquan Nairn in 2017.

NJCAA WOMEN – Demisha Roswell, New Mexico JC

Sophomore | Hurdles
Kingston, Jamaica

A long-standing record is in Demisha Roswell’s sights.

The sophomore from Kingston, Jamaica, improved her hold as the No. 2 60-meter hurdler in NJCAA history with a time of 8.18 at the Texas Tech Shootout this past weekend. She is now just 0.03 seconds away from the 12-year-old record. Roswell owns the No. 2, No. 3, No. 4 and No. 8 performances all-time, all of which happened this season.

This is the second time that Roswell has been named National Athlete of the Week this season, adding to the previous honor she took home two weeks ago.