NCAA & NJCAA XC National Athletes of the Week (October 11)

NEW ORLEANS – Another week. Another batch of impressive performances.

Here are our National Athletes of the Week in NCAA Cross Country and NJCAA Cross Country for October 11, 2021, as released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Monday.

Find out more about each of these athletes by 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 – Bradley Makuvire, Southeastern Louisiana

Junior | Zvishavane, Zimbabwe

When Bradley Makuvire crossed the finish line at the Watson Collegiate Invitational, he was all alone. Actually, no one would finish the race after Makuvire for more than 1 minute, 30 seconds.

Makuvire imposed his will over the 8k tract at Mississippi College and finished in 23:50. It was Makuvire’s third consecutive victory of the season, as he also captured individual titles at the LSU Invitational (September 17) and the Nicholls Invitational (October 2).

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

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Lauren White, Boston College

Graduate Student | Woodbury, New York

Lauren White won going away at the NEICAAA Cross Country Championships.

White cruised to a 10-second victory on the legendary Franklin Park 5k course in 17:14.9, beating 154 other women to the finish line. It was the second meet in a row that White raced at Franklin Park (She finished ninth at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown in 17:22.2).

This is the third time in program history that a female athlete from Boston College has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. White joins Liv Westphal (November 3, 2014) and Laura Hottenrott (October 12, 2015) in that regard.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – CarLee Stimpfel, Saginaw Valley State

Senior | Cass City, Michigan

CarLee Stimpfel took the race from the gun.

Stimpfel ran away from the rest of the field to capture the individual crown at the Lewis Conference Crossover. The senior navigated the 8k course in 23:55.1, winning by more than 37 seconds over the runner-up. This is also Stimpfel’s first collegiate victory in cross country.

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

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Klaudia O’Malley, Grand Valley State

Sophomore | McBain, Michigan

Klaudia O’Malley won her first collegiate cross country race in style.

O’Malley edged Alexa Leppelmeier of Walsh at the finish line by 0.7 seconds, 21:54.1 to 21:54.8, to win the individual title over the 6k course at the Lewis Conference Crossover. Her victory gave Grand Valley State the ultimate low stick as the Lakers scored 36 points to win the meet by 70 points.

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

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Benjamin White, Whittier

Senior | La Habra Heights, California

It was either going to be Santiago Hardy of Antelope Valley CC or Benjamin White of Whittier winning the individual title at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational this past weekend.

When the dust settled, Hardy picked up his third consecutive victory, but White earned one of the fastest non-winning times in meet history.

White crossed the finish line in 24:51.5 for the 8k tract – less than two seconds behind Hardy – and clocked a time that would have won at each of the previous seven editions of the meet.

This is the second time in White’s career that he has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. He previous earned the honor on October 22, 2018.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Riley Harmon, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps

Senior | Albany, California

Riley Harmon took charge at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational.

Harmon, who placed fourth in the loaded Women’s Silver 6k at the Live in the Lou Cross Country Classic two weeks ago, bettered her standing by three places on a tougher course and came out with an individual title to show for it. She covered the 6k tract at the Pomona-Pitzer campus course in 21:27.4 and led the Athenas to a team title. That was also the fastest time at the meet since 2017 and the fourth fastest in the past nine years.

This is the first time in program history that a female athlete from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps has been named National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Vincent Nchogu, Northwest Kansas Tech

Freshman | Keumbu Kisii, Kenya

A week didn’t change anything for Vincent Nchogu – he’s still fast.

Nchogu notched an impressive victory at the Fort Hays State Tiger Classic, clocking 23:35.87 over 8k to better Dennis Mutai of Garden City (Kan.) CC by over 8 seconds in the meet’s Black Race.

The same duo finished 1-2 a week ago at the NJCAA Region VI Preview. This time Nchogu almost doubled his winning margin as both he and Mutai ran times faster than the winner of the meet’s Gold Race, which featured many of the nation’s top NCAA Division II programs.

This is the first time an athlete from Northwest Kansas Tech has earned National Athlete of the Week honors in cross country.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Regan Hodsden, Colby (Kan.) CC

Freshman | Mitchell, Nebraska

Regan Hodsden is running at her best, and that’s good news for the Colby Trojans.

Hodsden finished in a strong fourth place as the top NJCAA Division I runner at the Fort Hays State Tiger Classic. Hodsden covered the 5k tract in 18:47.4, her fastest on any 5k course. She was 16th in last year’s NJCAA Division I Championships as part of Colby’s runner-up team.

Hodsden is the third woman from Colby to be named National Athlete of the Week in cross country.

NJCAA DIVISION II MEN – Melvin Kipkemboi, North Iowa Area CC

Sophomore | Rift Valley, Kenya

It was cruising time again for Melvin Kipkemboi.

This time Kipkemboi sizzled his home course with a 25:21.94 for 8k that put 1:50 ahead of his nearest pursuer in the Trent Smith Invitational that featured three NJCAA-ranked programs.

Kipkemboi, the reigning NJCAA Division II national champion, has been the top JUCO runner regardless of division in all three of his races this year.

This is Kipkemboi’s third time being named National Athlete of the Week and after earning it once last year and again two weeks ago.

NJCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Elka Billings, Allen (Kan.) CC

Freshman | Colony, Kansas

Elka Billings made quite the statement at the Fort Hays State Tiger Open.

Billings was the top JUCO runner regardless of division at with a third-place finish in 18:45.2 for the 5k course. She was also third in last year’s NJCAA Division II Championships.

Billings is the first woman from Allen to earn this award in cross country.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Teddy Purdon, Brookdale (N.J.) CC

Freshman | Little Silver, New Jersey

Teddy Purdon keeps moving up.

Purdon was impressive in the Delaware Invitational, finishing third in 28:12.0 for 8k to earn top-collegiate honors by 0.8 seconds. It was the best finish of the year for Purdon, who leads the fifth-ranked Jersey Blues.

Purdon is the first athlete from Brookdale to be named National Athlete of the Week in cross country.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Yasmeen Araujo, Suffolk County (N.Y.) CC

Sophomore | Deer Park, New York

Yasmeen Araujo is displaying some of her championship lineage.

Yasmeen Araujo earned top-JUCO distinction at the James Earley Invitational, finishing a strong 58th in 20:31.8 for the 5k course. Araujo was a leading member of the Sharks’ 2019 NJCAA Division III championship team, finishing eighth individually.

Araujo is the fourth woman from Suffolk County to earn this honor in cross country.