M-F Athletic National Athletes of the Week (Oct. 24)

NEW ORLEANS — Business is picking up!

Here are our M-F Athletic National Athletes of the Week for October 24.

  • NCAA Division I Men – Tyler Duncan, Jackson State
  • NCAA Division I Women – Stellah Kiptui, Alcorn State
  • NCAA Division II Men – Dillon Powell, Colorado School of Mines
  • NCAA Division II Women – Naomi Bailey, Alaska Fairbanks
  • NCAA Division III Men – Isaac Clark, USMMA
  • NCAA Division III Women – Jaquelynn Sheedy, USMMA
  • NAIA Men – Jason Bowers, Cumberland (Tenn.)
  • NAIA Women – Lina May, William Carey (Miss.)
  • NJCAA Division I Men – Karim Belmahdi, Monroe-New Rochelle (N.Y.)
  • NJCAA Division I Women – Aaliyah Headley, Monroe-New Rochelle (N.Y.)
  • NJCAA Division II Men – Brando Resendiz, Walters State (Tenn.) CC
  • NJCAA Division II Women – Julianne Dodson, Walters State (Tenn.) CC
  • NJCAA Division III Men – Conner Smith, SUNY Broome (N.Y.) CC
  • NJCAA Division III Women – Lydia Smith, SUNY Erie (N.Y.) CC

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 14 collegiate cross country athletes, when applicable (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions, the NAIA 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 – Tyler Duncan, Jackson State

Senior | Newberry, South Carolina

Tyler Duncan never lost sight of his goal.

Duncan worked his way through the pack on Monday at the SWAC Championships in Tallahassee, Florida, and pulled away over the final 1k to win the individual title. He crossed the finish line in 25:39.9 and helped the Tigers to their second conference team title in a row.

Midway through the 8k race, Duncan sat fifth, 2.9 seconds behind the leader. Duncan held strong and matched him stride-for-stride at the 7k mark before leaving everybody in his wake. The JSU standout gapped the field by 7.2 seconds down the stretch with two of his teammates in tow.

This is the first time in program history that an athlete from Jackson State has been named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. Duncan is the first male athlete from the SWAC to earn national honors since Hassan Chepkwony of Grambling in 2015.

NCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Stellah Kiptui, Alcorn State

Sophomore | Kabarnet, Kenya

Stellah Kiptui left no doubt on Monday.

Kiptui posted an emphatic victory in the Women’s Championship 5k at the SWAC Championships, winning by more than one minute in 18:03.4. No one could keep up with Kiptui at Apalachee Regional Park, as she led 7.4 seconds at 2k, 20.2 seconds at 2.8k, 40.7 seconds at 4k and then increased that insurmountable edge more than 20 seconds over the final 1k.

It has been a steady rise for Kiptui, who placed ninth at this meet last year. Kiptui earned three top-3 finishes at the SWAC Indoor Championships last year (including a victory in the mile) and then swept the distance slate clean at the SWAC Outdoor Championships this past May.

This is the first time in program history that an athlete from Alcorn State has been named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. Kiptui is the first female athlete from the SWAC to earn national honors since Paige Rankine of Alabama State in 2015.

NCAA DIVISION II MEN – Dillon Powell, Colorado School of Mines

Redshirt Junior | Colorado Springs, Colorado

Dillon Powell is back.

In his first race since the 2022 NCAA Division II Outdoor Championships that saw him win the 10,000 Meters and place third in the 5000, Powell rolled to the individual title at the NCAA DII Pre-Nationals on Saturday morning. Powell covered the 8k course in a PR 23:19.8 for a 16.2 second victory over his teammate Loic Scomparin. He stayed with the lead pack through the first split before dropping the hammer, clocking a 7:31.0 for his second split to lead the rest of the field by 15.6 seconds before closing in 6:30.7 for the win. 

Powell was the ultimate low stick for top-ranked Colorado School of Mines, as the Orediggers went 1-2-3-5-8 for 19 points, 64 points fewer than runner-up No. 5 Chico State (83).

This is the second time in Powell’s career that he has been named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season. His first honor came back on October 25, 2021 following his victory at the RMAC Championships. 

NCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Naomi Bailey, Alaska Fairbanks

Sophomore | Fairbanks, Alaska

Naomi Bailey pulled off an upset victory.

The sophomore from Alaska Fairbanks took home top honors at the NCAA DII Pre-Nationals in University Place, Washington, traversing the 6k course in 20:46.1 for a personal best at the distance. Bailey’s first collegiate victory was an impressive one as she beat a nationally-loaded field that featured several All-Americans from the 2021 NCAA DII Cross Country Championships. 

Bailey came through the first split in fifth before taking the lead and then some at the second split to lead by 9.4 seconds. She closed in 5:14.1 for a nine second victory over runner-up Katie Doucette of Western Colorado.

This is the first time in program history an athlete from Alaska Fairbanks has been named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NCAA DIVISION III MEN – Isaac Clark, USMMA

Freshman | Weddington, North Carolina

Isaac Clark led the way this past weekend.

His teammates followed – and with it, came a title.

Clark gave USMMA the ultimate low stick at the Skyline Conference Championships with his 26:35.8 winner, beating the runner-up by 47 seconds. He was one of five athletes from USMMA to finish in the top-10, as the Mariners captured their fourth consecutive conference crown.

Winning hasn’t been unfamiliar to Clark this season. Clark posted wins at three other meets: the Adelphi Panthers XC Invitational, the MSMC XC Series, as well as the MSMC Knight Invite.

This is the first time in program history that a male athlete from USMMA has been named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Jaquelynn Sheedy, USMMA

Senior | Baltimore, Maryland

Winning and Jaquelynn Sheedy have gone together in 2022.

Sheedy picked up her fifth individual title of the season this past weekend at the Skyline Conference Championships to lead USMMA to its first team title since 2019. She covered the 6k distance in 24:14.4, which was 36.5 seconds faster than runner-up and teammate Sayra Raya.

Other meets that Sheedy won included the Adelphi Panthers XC Invitational, the MSMC XC Series No. 1, the Golden Eagle Invitational and the MSMC Knight Invite.

This is the first time in program history that a female athlete from USMMA has been named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week during the cross country season.

NAIA MEN – Jason Bowers, Cumberland (Tenn.)

Freshman | Parys, South Africa

Once Jason Bowers made his move, nobody could keep up.

Bowers ran away with the individual title at the NAIA Great Lakes Challenge this past weekend, covering the 8k course in 24:03.3, more than 16 seconds ahead of runner-up Bryan Hernandez-Rios of Grace (Ind.). The duo was lockstep at 3.2k on Saturday, but Bowers pulled ahead by 1.6 seconds at 4.8k, 7.7 seconds at 6.4k and then dropped a 4:45.8 final 1600m to ice the victory.

A stacked field was assembled for the NAIA Great Lakes Challenge, as 13 teams from the most recent NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll were in attendance.

NAIA WOMEN – Lina May, William Carey (Miss.)

Senior | Vancleave, Mississippi

Lina May thrust her name into the national conversation.

May captured the individual title at the NAIA Appalachian Challenge this past weekend, covering the 5k tract in 17:08.3, more than 13 seconds ahead of former M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week Ellen-Mary Kearney of Milligan (Tenn.).

The Southern Miss transfer has been consistent in her approaching this season, placing top-6 at three different meets, including a sixth-place effort at the FSU Invitational two weeks ago.

NJCAA DIVISION I MEN – Karim Belmahdi, Monroe-New Rochelle (N.Y.)

Sophomore | Chleff, Algeria

Karim Belmahdi has been impressive all fall.

After two straight wins, Belmahdi traveled out of state for the first time this season and strung up another strong performance, taking fifth as the top JUCO runner at the Johnson & Wales (N.C.) Wildcat Classic. He clocked 25:28.9 for 8K, finishing as the third collegian behind a pair of NCAA Division II runners.

Belmahdi is the third male to earn this award in cross country for Monroe-New Rochelle, and the first since 2017.

NJCAA DIVISION I WOMEN – Aaliyah Headley, Monroe-New Rochelle (N.Y.)

Freshman | Georgetown, Guyana

Aaliyah Headley followed a Region XV title with another strong performance.

Headley was seventh as the top JUCO runner at the Johnson & Wales (N.C.) Wildcat Classic, covering the 5K tract in 19:14.8 in a race flush with NCAA Division II programs. She has been beaten by another JUCO runner just once this year – by her teammate Kayla Johnson in September.

Headley is the fifth female athlete from Monroe-New Rochelle to be named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the week in cross country.

NJCAA DIVISION II MEN – Brando Resendiz, Walters State (Tenn.) CC

Freshman | Morristown, Tennessee

For a first region championship, Brando Resendiz made it one to remember.

Resendiz claimed the Region VII title by a whopping 2:40, covering the hilly 8K course at Maryville (Tenn.) in 28:58.8. It was his second victory of the year after opening up with a 1:37 gap over the same runners he faced this past weekend.

Resendiz is the first male athlete from Walters State to be named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week in cross country.

NJCAA DIVISION II WOMEN – Julianne Dodson, Walters State (Tenn.) CC

Freshman | Morristown, Tennessee

A first victory of the year was made even sweeter for Julianne Dodson, who was easily the star of the day at the Region VII Championships.

Dodson won by an impressive 1:42, clocking 20:44.4 over the hilly 5K course at Maryville (Tenn.). Dodson has come into her own since opening the season as the Senators’ No. 3 or 4 runner in the squad’s first two races back in early September.

Dodson is the first female athlete from Walters State to be named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week in cross country.

NJCAA DIVISION III MEN – Conner Smith, SUNY Broome CC

Sophomore | Vestal, New York

Conner Smith is on a roll.

A week after winning the Mid-State Conference title by 12.1 seconds, Smith was dominant again to claim the Region III crown with a time of 27:30.1 for 8K to win by 13.6 seconds. His most recent victory came over Avion Smith, a previous M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week.

Smith is the first male athlete from SUNY Broome CC to be named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week.

NJCAA DIVISION III WOMEN – Lydia Smith, SUNY Erie CC

Freshman | Williamsport, Pennsylvania

“Small but mighty” was a description for the SUNY Erie team at the Region III Championships as the Kats weren’t able to field a full scoring squad.

Lydia Smith provided the “mighty,” winning the 5K race in 20:52.3, 21.6 seconds ahead of last week’s M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week, Aja Jackson. In Smith’s wake was another notable runner, Leah Lloyd of Finger Lakes (N.Y.) CC, who won this honor twice last year.

Smith made additional history, becoming SUNY Erie’s first athlete – female or male – to be named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week in cross country.