2021 USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field National Awards
NEW ORLEANS – National Athletes & Coaches of the Year for the 2021 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field season were announced on Wednesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
These awards were voted on by USTFCCCA member coaches following the conclusion of the 2021 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend in Fayetteville, Arkansas, based off performances at that meet, as well as throughout the rest of the regular season.
Only athletes and coaches from USTFCCCA member institutions are eligible to win awards.
National Men's Track Athlete of the Year
Hocker, a sophomore from Indianapolis, Indiana, made history each time he went to a meet this season. It started at the Razorback Invitational, where he led off Oregon’s DMR that set an all-time world best of 9:19.42 and destroyed its own collegiate record. Two weeks later at the Tyson Invitational, Hocker added 209 meters and dipped under the collegiate indoor mile record with his 3:50.55 and became the eighth fastest man in world history (Teammate Cooper Teare was a bit quicker, though, and now holds the record at 3:50.39). Then, at the NCAA DI Indoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend, Hocker swept the mile and 3000 with a meet-record 3:53.71 in the former and nearly took down the meet record in the latter with his 7:46.15.
National Women's Track Athlete of the Year
Mu, a freshman from Trenton, New Jersey, left her name all over the record book during a sensational first collegiate season. All told, Mu had her hand in three collegiate records – 600 (1:28.80), 800 (1:58.40), 4×400 relay (3:26.68) – and a number of other all-time top-10 marks, including the fourth-fastest performance in the 400 (50.52) and the now seventh-fastest performance in the 800 (2:01.07). It was at the NCAA DI Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where Mu finished runner-up in the 400 at 51.03 and then split the fastest 4×400 leg in world history at 49.54 to anchor Texas A&M to victory.
National Men's Field Athlete of the Year
Harrison, a senior from Huntsville, Alabama, doubled up on history only as he knows how this past weekend at the NCAA DI Indoor Track & Field Championships. He completed the first high jump-long jump double in meet history, which pairs well with his equally historic high jump-long jump double from the outdoor meet two years ago. It was in Fayetteville, Arkansas, though, where Harrison started things off with a 2.30m (7-6½) victory in the high jump with a near-perfect slate (Harrison only missed his first attempt at 2.24m (7-4¼), but everything else was on the first try). Then Harrison won the long jump at 8.45m (27-8¾), which made him the third-best performer in both collegiate history and meet history.
National Women's Field Athlete of the Year
Gittens, a junior from Nashville, Tennessee, starred at the NCAA DI Indoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It was inside the Randal Tyson Track Center where Gittens kicked things off on Thursday by shattering the collegiate record in the pentathlon with her 4746 total, 43 more than the previous best set by Kendell Williams of Georgia in 2016. Then, Gittens became the only athlete in meet history to complete the multi-high jump double after topping the best bar of the meet at 1.90m (6-2¾). Gittens put a bow on her incredible weekend with a third-place effort in the long jump with a PR 6.68m (21-11). Count it up and that’s 26 points – the third-most by a female athlete in meet history.
This all came after Gittens scored 23 points at the SEC Indoor Championships – sweeping the high jump and long jump in the process – and notched another all-time performance in the pentathlon a few weeks earlier at the Texas Tech Invitational (4612).
National Men's Coach of the Year
Johnson, in his ninth year at Oregon, led his team to a record-breaking season and a near record-breaking winning performance at the NCAA DI Indoor Track & Field Championships. It was in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the Ducks amassed 79 points for the second-largest point total in meet history behind Arkansas’ 94 in 1994. Oregon athletes won six event titles – 60, 800, mile, 3000, DMR and triple jump – and had multiple scorers in three of those events, including a 1-2 finish in the 3000. During the regular season, the Ducks set collegiate records in the mile and DMR in addition to notching 12 top-10 national marks across seven events.
National Women's Coach of the Year
Harter, in his 31st year at Arkansas, led his team to the national title this past weekend with a stellar all-around effort at the NCAA DI Indoor Track & Field Championships. Competing at home, the Razorbacks amassed 68 points – the third-largest total in meet history – despite not having an individual champion. Arkansas did, however, see runner-up efforts in the mile, 3000, 60H and DMR and had multiple scorers in the 400, mile and 3000. Earlier in the season, Harter guided the Razorbacks to the team title at the SEC Indoor Championships with 141 points.
National Men's Assistant Coach of the Year
Thomas, in his third year at Oregon, guided his mid-distance and distance charges to a record-breaking season. Between January 29 and February 13, the Ducks set an all-time world best in the DMR at 9:19.42 and sent two men under the previous collegiate record in the mile (Cooper Teare’s name is on top of that list now at 3:50.39). Fast forward to the NCAA DI Indoor Track & Field Championships and Thomas’ athletes won national titles in the 800 (Charlie Hunter), mile (Cole Hocker with a meet record), 3000 (Cole Hocker, again) and DMR. Oregon saw its mid-distance and distance athletes account for 52 of the team’s 79 points at the NCAA meet.
Co-National Women's Assistant Coach of the Year
Johnson, in his 10th year at Arkansas in charge of the sprints, hurdles, combined events and relays, watched his athletes score points at will in the postseason. It started at the SEC Championships, where the Razorbacks received half of their title-winning 141-point total from Johnson’s athletes (70). Ten of those points came from the 4×400 relay, which broke a longstanding meet record with its 3:28.50 effort. Then, at the NCAA Indoor Championships, Johnson’s athletes compiled 22 points to help Arkansas capture the national crown. Eight of those points came from Daszay Freeman, who finished runner-up in the 60H – despite entering the meet ranked 10th – with a huge PR of 7.99.
Co-National Women's Assistant Coach of the Year
Brady, in his fourth year at Texas A&M in charge of the jumpers and multi-event athletes, guided a record-breaking performance at the NCAA DI Indoor Track & Field Championships. Those athletes coached by Brady scored 34 of the Aggies’ 57 points, broke one collegiate record and bettered two NCAA meet records. Tyra Gittens accounted for 26 points by herself, becoming the first athlete in meet history to complete the pentathlon-high jump sweep and placing third in the long jump. It was in the pentathlon, where Gittens broke the collegiate record with her 4746 total. Deborah Acquah earned runner-up honors in the triple jump and equaled the meet record of 14.27m (46-10).