Award History
NCAA DI OTF National Awards

2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field National Awards

NEW ORLEANS – National Athletes & Coaches of the Year for the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field season were announced on Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Member coaches voted on these honors following the conclusion of the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend in Eugene, Oregon – but considered performances during both the regular season and the NCAA postseason.

National Men's Track Athlete of the Year

Laird, who hails from Coatesville, Pennsylvania, was named the National Men’s Track Athlete of the Year. He put an exclamation point on the end of a terrific season at the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships by scoring a gender-high 20½ points thanks to winning the 100, anchoring the winning 4×100 relay to a come-from-behind victory and finishing a close runner-up in the 200 (It was his lone loss in the 200 this season). Earlier in the season, Laird became the third-fastest performer in collegiate history in the outdoor 200 with his wind-legal 19.81 effort at the Texas Relays and added a 19.82 half-lap for good measure later at the SEC Outdoor Championships to break a 19-year-old meet record held by Justin Gatlin.

National Women's Track Athlete of the Year

Mu, who hails from Trenton, New Jersey, was named the National Women’s Track Athlete of the Year. The sensational freshman ended the season in style at the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, lowering her own collegiate record in the 400 to 49.57 – while matching the largest margin of victory in meet history – and split 48.85 on the anchor leg of Texas A&M’s 4×400 relay team that also set a collegiate record of 3:22.34. Mu ended the outdoor season with three collegiate records – add the 800 at 1:57.73, for good measure – and five individual all-time top-10 marks – four in the 400 alone (No. 1, No. 2, No. 5, No. 8).

National Men's Field Athlete of the Year

Harrison, who hails from Huntsville, Alabama, was named the National Men’s Field Athlete of the Year. He continued dominance of both the high jump and long jump during the 2021 outdoor season, capped by his third consecutive sweep of those events at the NCAA Indoor or Outdoor Championships. Harrison left his name all over the all-time chart in 2021, matching the second-best performer in collegiate history in the high jump at 2.36m (7-8¾) – which came on a perfect 7-for-7 outing at the SEC Outdoor Championships – and moving up to No. 6 on the all-time chart in the long jump at 8.44m (27-8¼). He only lost once during the outdoor season.

National Women's Field Athlete of the Year

Gittens, who hails from Saint Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, was named the National Women’s Field Athlete of the Year. It was at the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships where she amassed 24 points to become the most prolific, single-year, field-event scorer in meet history thanks to a victory in the heptathlon (6285), a runner-up effort in the long jump (6.68m/21-11) and a third-place finish in the high jump. Earlier in the season, Gittens became the third-best heptathlete in collegiate history with her 6418 total at the SEC Outdoor Championships. During that multi, Gittens soared 6.96m (22-10) in the long jump to become the fourth-best performer in collegiate history in that event and cleared 1.95m (6-4¾) in the high jump to equal the sixth-best performer in collegiate history there. When you combine what Gittens did in the high jump and long jump, she did what no other woman had done in world history within the confines of the multi.

Co-National Men's Coach of the Year

Shaver, in his 17th year at LSU, was named the co-National Men’s Coach of the Year. He guided the Tigers to a dominant effort at the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, where they scored 84 points and became just the third team in meet history to win six or more event titles (Ohio State had seven in 1936; Southern California also had six in 1953). LSU placed first in the 100, 400H, 4×100 relay, high jump, long jump and javelin. Shaver’s star athletes, JuVaughn Harrison and Terrance Laird, left their names all over the all-time collegiate chart in their respective events (Harrison in the high jump and long jump; Laird in the 200). During the regular season, the Tigers were ranked No. 1 in all but one week of the National TFRI.

Co-National Men's Coach of the Year

Ross, in his ninth year at North Carolina A&T, was named the co-National Men’s Coach of the Year. He guided the Aggies to a podium finish at the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, taking third place with 35 points, despite coming into the meet ranked 14th in the National TFRI. North Carolina A&T athletes starred in Eugene, Oregon, specifically Randolph Ross, who won the 400 in 43.85 to become the third-fastest performer in collegiate history and took the nation’s top 4×400 relay squad from sixth to first in the final, using a 43.8 split, among other feats. Just a few weeks earlier at the NCAA DI East Preliminary Round, that same 4×400 relay team clocked the third-fastest mark in collegiate history at 2:59.21. The Aggies dominated the MEAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, winning every track event excluding the steeplechase.

National Women's Coach of the Year

Smith Gilbert, in her eighth year at Southern California, was named the National Women’s Coach of the Year. She guided the Women of Troy to a dominant showing at the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, where they won their second national title in the past three meets with 74 points, the second most since 2003. USC scored 68 of its 74 points in sprints, hurdle and relay events, thanks to a trio of event crowns – Anna Cockrell became just the second woman in meet history to sweep the 100H-400H and the 4×100 relay took gold. The Pac-12 champion Women of Troy were in the top-5 of the National TFRI all season long and hit 17 all-time top-10 program marks during the regular season.

National Men's Assistant Coach of the Year

Lane, in his 14th year at LSU, was named the National Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year. His athletes played a major role in helping the Tigers win their first national title since 2002, scoring 27 of the team’s 84 points. JuVaughn Harrison, who matched the second-best performer in collegiate history in the high jump and became the sixth-best performer in collegiate history in the long jump during the regular season, continued his dominance of both jumps and swept the crowns. Sean Bodie-Dixon PR’d in the triple jump with a World U20-leading mark of 16.61m (54-6) and placed fourth. Rayvon Grey added a seventh-place finish in the long jump. During the regular season, Lane’s jumpers dotted the national top-10 lists and scored 22 points at the SEC Outdoor Championships in College Station, Texas.

National Women's Assistant Coach of the Year

Watts, in his eighth year at Southern California, was named the National Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year. His athletes played a major role in helping the Women of Troy win their second national title in the past three meets, scoring 31 of their 74 points. Three of his athletes reached the final of the 400 and scored – Kyra Constantine (third), Nicole Yeargin (fourth) and Bailey Lear (seventh) – with all three running personal bests during the two rounds at the final site of the NCAA Championships. Anna Cockrell became just the second woman in meet history to complete the 100H-400H double (Watts coaches the intermediate hurdles, a discipline in which Cockrell broke a school record). USC’s 4×400 relay team posted the second-best time in program history in a runner-up effort. During the regular season, Watts’ athletes dotted the national top-10 charts and scored 52 of the team’s 162.5 points in winning the team title at the Pac-12 Outdoor Championships on their home track.