NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (Feb. 16)

NEW ORLEANS – All-time performances dotted the collegiate indoor track & field landscape this past weekend.

Here are eight individuals and/or relay teams who definitely left their mark 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, when applicable (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. 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 – Cooper Teare, Oregon

Senior | Distance
Alameda, California

When ducks fly south for winter, they seek a warmer climate.

When the Oregon Ducks fly south in the winter, they’re seeking records.

Cooper Teare has been the poster child for Oregon’s migration in 2021.

Teare absolutely annihilated the collegiate indoor mile record this past weekend at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He covered eight laps and nine meters in 3:50.39, which took more than one full second off the former all-time best of 3:52.01, established by Edward Cheserek nearly four years ago. Not only that, but Teare is now the seventh fastest man in world history in the event. Teare’s teammate Cole Hocker also went under the record, too.

Two weeks before this, Teare doubled up on big moments at the Randal Tyson Track Center as part of the Razorback Invitational. He anchored Oregon’s DMR squad to an all-time world best of 9:19.42 (He split 3:54.61) and then notched the national lead over 3000 meters at 7:46.10.

Teare is the second Oregon male athlete to be named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season, joining teammate Charlie Hunter.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Texas A&M 4×400 Relay

Name a better duo than Texas A&M and the 4×400 relay.

If you can, we’ll send you some leftover Valentine’s Day chocolate.

After what happened this past Saturday afternoon at the Tyson Invitational, the only thing track & field aficionados can name are three more teams and eight more performances better in world history than what the Aggie women turned inside the Randal Tyson Track Center.

Texas A&M got the baton around in 3:26.27 to demolish the old collegiate record and become the fourth fastest team in world history to go along with the ninth fastest performance.

After Jania Martin opened with a 53.04 split, Syaira Richardson and Charokee Young turned up the heat. Richardson split 51.86, followed by a 51.12 effort by Young, which put them on record pace with Athing Mu awaiting on the anchor. Mu had already split 50.03 this year, so all eyes were on the freshman from Trenton, New Jersey.

It didn’t appear as if Mu broke a sweat as she covered two laps in 50.27, stopping the clock at 3:26.27 and leaving the Aggies behind only national teams from Russia, Poland and the United States on the world list.

This is the fourth time this season that female athletes from Texas A&M have been named National Athletes of the Week. It is also the first time since 2019 that a relay team earned national honors (Michigan’s DMR received the nod on February 19, 2019).


Anchor up!

The Lakers’ Distance Medley Relay clocked the fastest all-conditions time in NCAA Division II history, regardless of track size. The quartet of Dennis Mbuta, Jackson Blanchard, Jonathon Groendyk and Caleb Futter got the baton around in 9:39.38 at the GVSU Big Meet-Saturday.

This is the first time an NCAA DII DMR squad has dipped under 9:40. The previous best time was 9:40.15 by Western Oregon in 2017.

This is the second time in program history that a male athlete(s) from GVSU has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Zach Panning earned the honor on December 6, 2017. It is also the first time in NCAA Division II award history that a relay team earned national honors.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Berenice Cleyet-Merle, UIndy

Senior | Mid-Distance
Saint-Sulpice-Des-Rivoires, France

It’s been almost a year since Berenice Cleret-Merle last raced, but it didn’t take long to prove she’s ready to go.

In her season opener, the senior from Saint-Sulpice-Des-Rivoires, France, won the 800 with a time of 2:07.36 at this past Friday’s edition of the GVSU Big Meet. Her time is just shy of her PR of 2:06.80 set at last year’s Big Meet.

Cleyet-Merle currently holds the NCAA Division II lead in the event by 2.5 seconds and is the only athlete in the women’s 800 to surpass the automatic qualifying standard this year.

This is the first time in program history that a female athlete has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Noah Zastrow, UW-Stout

Senior | Jumps
Spencer, Wisconsin

Noah Zastrow is approaching elite company once again.

Last year at the WIAC Indoor Championships, Zastrow became just the fourth man in NCAA Division III history to summit 17 feet, 8 inches in the pole vault under a roof.

This past weekend in a dual meet against UW-Eau Claire, Zastrow cleared 5.35m (17-6½) to give him yet another top-20 bar in division history. He is now just one of three men in NCAA DIII history with multiple clearances of 5.35m (17-6½) or better in a career.

Zastrow wasn’t done there, either. He also won the long jump with a mark of 6.59m (21-7½).

This is the second time in his career that Zastrow has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.


Sophomore | Distance
Midland, Michigan

Ana Tucker now has her hand in three national-leading marks.

Let’s count them up: 3000 (9:41.33), 5000 (17:04.09), DMR (11:50.92).

Tucker turned in two of those efforts – the 5000 and DMR – as part of Hope’s contingent at the Grand Valley State Big Meet Weekend over a two-day span in Allendale, Michigan.

It all started this past Friday when Tucker competed in the 5000. This was her first 5K on the track, but Tucker hung tough and finished 11th in a field with several unattached athletes and others who starred at various NCAA DII Championships over the past few years.

Then Tucker doubled back on Saturday as the anchor for the Flying Dutch’s DMR, which now has the NCAA DIII lead by 1 minute, 38 seconds. Read that again: 1 minute, 38 seconds.

NJCAA MEN – Dakari Carter, Butler CC

Sophomore | Sprints
Streetsboro, Ohio

Dakari Carter proved ready in his 2021 debut.

Competing for the first time this indoor season, Carter notched a pair of national top-5 marks at the Washburn JUCO Challenge. Carter won the 200 in 21.42, which tops the NJCAA list in 2021, and finished runner-up in the 60 in 6.76, which currently sits third among 2021 performances.

This is the second time in program history that a male athlete from Butler CC has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Travis Collins previously earned the honor back on January 30, 2018.

NJCAA WOMEN – Rosalie Fish, Iowa Central CC

Sophomore | Mid-Distance
Lake Tapps, Washington

Rosalie Fish had a busy weekend for Iowa Central CC.

On Friday, Fish competed at the Washburn JUCO Challenge and finished runner-up in the 800 at 2:20.18. That mark currently ranks third among performances from the 2021 season.

Two days later, Fish won both the 1000 and mile at the Triton Kansas Challenge in 3:03.49 and 5:15.50, respectively. Fish dominated those races, winning by an average of nine seconds.

This is the second year in a row that multiple female athletes from Iowa Central CC have been named National Athletes of the Week during the indoor season. Fish joins teammate and two-time honoree Victoria Adu in getting national recognition in 2021.