Award History
NAIA XC National Awards

2021 NAIA Cross Country National Awards

NEW ORLEANS – National Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the 2021 NAIA Cross Country season were announced on Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) following the conclusion of the national championship meet.

Awards were voted on by member coaches based on results from both the 2021 NAIA Cross Country Championships in Vancouver, Washington, and during the regular season.

Scroll below to find out more about each of our winners.

National Men's Athlete of the Year

Zouhair Talbi repeated as men’s individual champion at the NAIA Cross Country Championships, earning the 2021 title in 24:43.1 with a comfortable 13.5-second margin of victory. Talbi became the meet’s first back-to-back winner since 2010-11. He was undefeated in four races this season, also winning individual titles at the Sooner Conference Championships, NAIA Mid-States Classic and Chile Pepper Festival races.

National Women's Athlete of the Year

Alyssa Bearzi saved her best races for the end of the season. Just a few weeks after winning the individual title at the AAC Championships, she took home top honors at the NAIA Cross Country Championships with a time of 18:14.9. Bearzi’s low sticks propelled the Buffs to a pair of team titles, most importantly at the NAIA Cross Country Championships, where Milligan won its first national team title in program history.

National Men's Coach of the Year

Chris Layne, in his 23rd year as head coach at Milligan (Tenn.), led the program to a first-ever team title at the NAIA Cross Country Championships. The Buffs, who entered the meet ranked third nationally, won with 115 points and put four runners in the top-40. Earlier in the season, Milligan also won the team title at the AAC Championships, as well as the NAIA Southern States Challenge and Queen City Invite.

National Women's Coach of the Year

Chris Layne, in his 23rd year as head coach at Milligan (Tenn.), led the program to a first-ever team title at the NAIA Cross Country Championships. The Buffs, who were ranked second in the nation going into the meet, won with 122 points and put three runners in the top-11, led by individual champion Alyssa Bearzi. Earlier in the season, Milligan also won the team title at the AAC Championships, along with the NAIA Southern States Challenge.