NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (October 4)

NEW ORLEANS – Here are the NCAA Cross Country and NJCAA Cross Country National Athletes of the Week for Monday, October 4, 2021, as announced by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA)!

An exciting weekend of racing meant some difficult decisions.

Find out more about each of these athletes 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 12 collegiate cross country 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 – Adriaan Wildschutt, Florida State

Senior | Ceres, South Africa

Race by race, Adriaan Wildschutt has demonstrated why he is a favorite to contend for an individual national title once again come November in Tallahassee, Florida.

Wildschutt picked up his third consecutive win of the season this past weekend, capturing individual laurels at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational. He covered the 5-mile course in 23:06.7, nearly five seconds clear of the runner-up. Wildschutt led by two seconds at 4000m, 11 seconds at 5130m and nearly 14 seconds at 6940m before cruising to the finish line.

“That was a special race for him today,” Florida State head coach Bob Braman said. “I’ve been coming to this meet as a coach and athlete for 30 years and I’ve never seen anyone break 23 minutes. That was one of the fastest times, ever, and it wasn’t one of the fastest days, ever. It’s very exciting for him.”

This is the second time this season that Wildschutt has been named National Athlete of the Week. Wildschutt previously earned the honor on September 13 after his first win of the season.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Mercy Chelangat, Alabama

Junior | Kericho, Kenya

Mercy Chelangat is back, like she never left.

Chelangat, the reigning individual champion from the NCAA DI Cross Country Championships, made her season debut this past weekend and grabbed the individual title at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational. She covered the 5k tract in 16:10.3, just ahead of teammate Flomena Asekol, as their 1-2 finish helped Alabama finish third in a loaded field with five top-10 teams.

This is the second year in a row that Chelangat has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. Chelangat previously earned the honor on November 3, 2020.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Isaac Harding, Grand Valley State

Senior | Grand Rapids, Michigan

Isaac Harding was golden in Louisville.

Harding took home top honors at the Live in Lou Cross Country Classic, winning the Men’s Gold 8k in a personal best time of 23:16.7. Harding stayed in striking distance and worked his way up throughout the race, as he was fourth at the 2.1k split and third at 3.9k before crossing the finish line ahead of runner-up Olin Hacker of NCAA Division I Wisconsin. The Lakers finished second in the team standings behind the Badgers.

This is the third time in program history a male athlete from Grand Valley State has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Finja Schierl, Wingate

Freshman | Darmstadt, Germany

The first race of Finja Schierl’s collegiate career was a memorable one.

Schierl ran away from the rest of the field to capture the individual crown at the DII National Preview. The freshman traversed the 6k course in 21:22.0 to win by more than 11 seconds over the runner-up finisher. Schierl also gave Wingate the ultimate low stick as the Bulldogs went on to win the team title.

This is the first time in program history an athlete from Wingate has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Alex Phillip, John Carroll

Sophomore | University Heights, Ohio

Alex Phillip, we meet again.

Phillip mixed it up with top athletes from each of the three NCAA divisions in the Men’s Gold 8k at the Paul Short Run this past weekend and finished sixth out of 357 runners in 23:29.2. That is the best finish by an NCAA DIII athlete in the headline race at the Paul Short Run since at least 2009.

This is the second time in the past three weeks that Phillip has been named National Athlete of the Week. Phillip previously earned the honor on September 20 after winning the individual title at the All-Ohio Collegiate Cross Country Championships.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Evie Bultemeyer, Trine

Senior | Fort Wayne, Indiana

Evie Bultemeyer dropped the hammer and never looked back.

Competing at the Live in the Lou Cross Country Classic this past weekend, where six nationally-ranked women’s teams squared off, Butlemeyer was lockstep with the leaders through 3.9k. Then, over the final 2.1k, Butlemeyer pushed the pace and left everybody else in the dust, winning by nearly 17 seconds in 21:32.3.

This is the third year in a row that Butlemeyer has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. Butlemeyer previously earned the honor on September 9, 2019 and October 6, 2020, following notable victories in prior weekends.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Aspel Kiprob, Iowa Central CC

Freshman | Nakaru, Kenya

Aspel Kiprob showed he is up for challenges at the Chile Pepper Festival.

Kiprob was the JUCO finisher in the John McDonnell Memorial 8k, finishing 6th in 23:56.5. In the process he defeated two previous National Athletes of the Week in Nicholas Kiprotich of Iowa Western CC and Triton teammate Kelvin Bungei, the defending NJCAA Division I champion.

Kiprob is the eighth male athlete from Iowa Central to earn this award during the cross country season.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Faith Nyathi, El Paso CC

Freshman | Plumtree, Zimbabwe

Faith Nyathi left no doubt at the New Mexico Highlands Jam.

Nyathi won the individual title in the 5k race in 18:50.2, finishing an impressive one minute, 24.5 seconds ahead of her closest pursuer. It was the second race of the year for Nyathi, who was 3rd (2nd collegian) as the top JUCO runner in UTEP’s Lori Fitzgerald Memorial 5k in 17:31.9.

Nyathi is the second female athlete from El Paso to be named National Athlete of the Week.

NJCAA DIVISION II MEN – Caden Resendez, Mesa (Ariz.) CC

Freshman | Gilbert, Arizona

Caden Resendez was part of two firsts at the Arizona CC Conference Championships.

Resendez clocked 25:56.3 for 8k to win the individual crown handily by 17.3 seconds, the first conference title for Mesa CC. Jubilation got even higher when the team scorers were finalized, giving the Thunderbirds its first team win in history. Mesa CC edged Central Arizona, a NJCAA DI program, by two points.

Resendez has now earned a third first for the program, as he is the first man or woman from Mesa CC to be named National Athlete of the Week in cross country.

NJCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Haley Ellis, Lansing (Mich.) CC

Freshman | Leslie, Michigan

Haley Ellis couldn’t be stopped at the Lansing Invitational.

The host Stars welcomed a strong field with four NJCAA Division II-ranked programs among a number four-year schools. Ellis beat all of them with a 19:08.2 performance over the 5k course. It was the second win in three races this year for Ellis, who has been the top JUCO finisher each time.

Ellis is the first man or woman to earn this award for Lansing CC.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Hunter Phillips, Joliet (Ill.) JC

Freshman | Shorewood, Illinois

Divisions didn’t matter for Hunter Phillips.

Phillips was the highest NJCAA Division III finisher in the cross-division Heartland (Ill.) CC Invitational, placing sixth in 27:08.7 for 8k. The field had six teams, and five were ranked among NJCAA Division II or III.

Phillips is the second male athlete from Joliet JC to be named National Athlete of the Week.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Julia Danko, Oxford (Ga.) CC

Julia Danko’s first race of the year was worth the wait.

The Eagles had been short one runner for a scoring team in its all three of its previous races this year, but that changed when Danko was finally ready to run. Danko performed admirably in the Alexander/Asics Invitational, placing 39th as the highest-finishing JUCO runner.

Danko is the third woman from Oxford CC to earn this award.