NCAA & NJCAA ITF National Athletes of the Week (Dec. 7)

NEW ORLEANS – The collegiate indoor track & field season got off to a blistering start this past weekend as numerous all-time marks were turned in across collegiate divisions.

Here are those athletes who stood out the most and were named National Athletes of the Week.

Find out more about each of these athletes by clicking their names 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 – Wesley Kiptoo, Iowa State

Junior | Distance
Marakwet, Kenya

Wesley Kiptoo is back like he never left.

You might remember Kiptoo set a meet record at the NCAA Indoor Championships of 13:23.77 and won by nearly six seconds the last time he ran an indoor 5000. Well, he was up to his old tricks almost nine months later.

Kiptoo was the top collegiate finisher in the stacked elite section of the Men’s 5000 Meters at the Sharon Colyear-Danville Season Opener in Boston this past weekend. Not only that, but Kiptoo became the third-fastest performer in collegiate history when he traversed 25 laps in 13:14.74. That was also the quickest time turned in by a collegian since 2012, when both Lawi Lalang and Stephen Sambu ripped through the NYRR Millrose Games for the current No. 1 and No. 2 marks.

This is the first time that Kiptoo has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season as an NCAA DI athlete. He previously took home four honors at the NJCAA level.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Ceili McCabe, West Virginia

Junior | Distance
Vancouver, British Columbia

History was made in the elite section of the Women’s 3000 Meters at the Sharon Colyear-Danville Season Opener in Boston – and to the victor, go the spoils.

Ceili McCabe won the race by a 0.01-second margin in 8:52.52, which made her the eighth-fastest performer in collegiate history. Just a few weeks earlier, McCabe finished third at the NCAA DI Cross Country Championships after an undefeated regular season.

Elsewhere in the race, Katelyn Tuohy and Samantha Bush ended up fourth and fifth, respectively and became the No. 13 and No. 15 performers in collegiate history. Tuohy also set an American U20 record all-time best in the event with her 8:54.18 mark.

This is the first time in program history that an athlete from West Virginia has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Isaac Harding, Grand Valley State

Sophomore | Distance
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Isaac Harding didn’t skip a beat.

A few weeks after winning the individual title at the 2021 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships, Harding registered the third fastest mark in NCAA DII history in the 5000 meters, regardless of track size. He covered the oversized oval at the GVSU Holiday Open in 13:41.78 to finish third in the top section of the Men’s 5000 Meters.

That effort puts Harding behind only Christian Noble, who set the NCAA DII record last year in 13:37.39, and Nicodemus Naimadu from 2005 in 13:41.08.

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

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Trace Mosby, Pittsburg State

Senior | Combined Events
Smithville, Missouri

Trace Mosby opened the season with a bang.

Mosby became the No. 5 performer all-time in NCAA DII history in the Pentathlon after scoring 4122 points at the Boo Rogers Combined Events. She started competition with a PR of 8.51 in the 60H, followed by another PR in the high jump of 1.75m (5-8¾). After throwing 10.14m (33-3¼) in the shot put, she bounced back with a strong effort of 5.77m (18-11¼) in the long jump for an indoor best. Mosby closed out the competition with a PR in the 800 of 2:16.51.

This is the second time in program history that a female athlete from Pittsburg State has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Alex Phillip, John Carroll

Junior | Distance
Akron, Ohio

Only three men in NCAA DIII history have gone sub-14 minutes in the indoor 5000 meters, regardless of track size: Alex Phillip became the third this past weekend with a scintillating race at the GVSU Holiday Open.

Phillip, who won the individual title at the NCAA DIII Cross Country Championships last month, finished eighth in the top section of the Men’s 5000 Meters in 13:58.42. That put him behind only NCAA DIII record holder Dan Mayer back in 1994 at 13:53.17 and Ian LaMere from four years ago on an oversized track at 13:54.88.

This is the first time in program history that an athlete from John Carroll has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Ella Baran, Johns Hopkins

Senior | Distance
Plymouth, Minnesota

Ella Baran didn’t wait long to assert herself.

Baran kicked off the indoor season with a resounding victory in the Women’s 3000 Meters at the Fastrack Season Opener, covering 15 laps in 9:36.90 for a near 39-second margin of victory. That mark also made her the No. 15 performer in NCAA DIII history, just two seconds out of the all-time top-10.

It has been a strong 2021 for Baran. She finished runner-up in both the 1500 and 5000 at the NCAA DIII Outdoor Championships back in May and recently took ninth at the NCAA DIII Cross Country Championships last month.

This is the first time since the 2017 that an athlete from Johns Hopkins has been named National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season (Felicia Koerner).

NJCAA MEN – Jaivon Harrison, Bryant-Stratton (Wis.)

Freshman | Jumps
Shaker Heights, Ohio

Jaivon Harrison is in championship form early.

Harrison set an indoor personal best of 2.15m (7-0½) to win the Forever Red Alumni Classic at Carthage College and broke the facility record at the Carthage-Tarble Athletic Center. That mark also would have equaled the winning clearance from last year’s NJCAA Indoor Championships.

If Harrison’s name looks familiar, it’s because he is the reigning champion in the event at the NJCAA Division I Outdoor Championships.

Harrison is the first athlete from Bryant & Stratton (Wis.) to earn National Athlete of the Week honors.

NJCAA WOMEN – Kayla McCray, Indian Hills (Iowa) CC

Freshman | Sprints
Miami, Florida

Nobody could catch Kayla McCray as she raced for the first time in almost two years.

McCray’s first competition was a 7.69 prelim in the 60 meters at the Med Tjeerdsma Classic. That established the lead for NJCAA speedsters, and McCray followed it up 90 minutes later with a 7.73 victory in the final. The mark of 7.69 is also a school record for Indian Hills.

McCray came back later in the afternoon to clock 25.66 over 200 meters for the leading NJCAA mark in that event as well.

This is the second time a female athlete from Indian Hills has earned the National Athlete of the Week honors in indoor track & field, and the first since 2018.