Weekly College Awards

The awards were delayed by two days for a couple of reasons. Several conference meets finished up on Sunday, and then I was traveling back home from the USATF Indoor Championships on Monday. Better late than never!

This was Conference Championship Weekend, among the best weekends of the year in college track. For the week’s best marks by collegians, check out my compilation at Flotrack — men here, women here.

This time, team efforts are the important thing, not individual efforts, and that’s reflected below by giving them the first and biggest awards. Let’s get to it!

MEN

Team of the Week: Arkansas
This was an easy choice. The Razorbacks, the #1 team in the national rankings, beat #2 Florida by 14 points. They’re tough.

Honorable mention: Texas A&M
This was the last time the Aggies will compete in a Big 12 indoor championship (as they are moving to the SEC next year), and they won it in dominating style. They won the title by 20½ points over Texas, a national title contender, and showed they will be a force to reckon with at the NCAA Championships. Ameer Webb ran a collegiate leader, and a wide array of long sprinters and middle distance runners put up big performances.

Team Player: Cam Levins, Southern Utah
The Thunderbirds’ versatile distance runner had a full weekend, scoring forty points and leading his team to a Summit League win. On Friday he ran qualifying in the 800 and won the 3000. Saturday was a bit busier, winning the mile, 800 and 5000, all within 2 hours and 20 minutes. Levins ran nearly seven miles of racing.

Athlete of the Week: Andrew Irwin, Arkansas
Irwin won the SEC Championships pole vault with an NCAA-leading 5.53 meters (18′ 1¾”). It’s the Hogs’ first-ever SEC indoor title in this event. It should come as no surprise that this freshman is doing so well, as he set the national high school record last year.

Fantastic finish: Air Force
Late in the meet at the Mountain West Conference Championships, Boise State looked like a sure winner. They had a big lead and had solid competitors in the remaining events – and if it came down to the 4×400, the Broncos had four finalists in the open 400, so they were set.

Suddenly, Air Force came alive. Jim Walmsley won the 3000 and led a Falcon charge that outscored Boise State 17 to 7 in that event, far better than had been expected. The high jump results came in and Air Force got a huge 23½ points out of it, to Boise State’s 7½. Suddenly, it’s a Boise State lead of just a point and a half going into the 4×400 relay. The classic showdown scenario: whoever finishes first out of those two teams wins the championship.

Boise State had placed 1-2-6-7 in the open 400, but Air Force’s men were better rested. The Falcons took the lead on the first leg and never relinquished it, breaking a 35-year-old school record and winning their first-ever men’s title in the Mountain West conference.

Upset of the week: Harry Adams, Auburn
Adams was the national leader in the 60 meters, so why is it an upset that he won the SEC Championships in that event? Because he beat two-time defending NCAA champion Jeff Demps, who deposed Adams from the national-leading spot in the SEC semifinals. Adams broke Demps’ win streak of six straight finals, dating back to the 2010 SEC Championships. Ole Miss’s Michael Granger also beat Demps.

Earlier this year, Adams finished third behind Demps and Virginia Tech’s Keith Ricks. The NCAA Championships in two weeks will be their tie-breaking race for the season.

Women

Team of the Week: Texas A&M
Largely ignored in the NCAA Championships prognostication, the Aggies had a huge weekend. They won the Big 12 by a wide margin, and in the process they showed they may be a national contender. Sprinters Ashley Collier, Kamaria Brown and Dominique Duncan put themselves among the best in the country, but so did long-distance runner Natosha Rogers.

Honorable mention: Florida
The Gators upset #3 LSU and #4 Arkansas in winning the SEC crown.

Team player: Ann Dudley, Middle Tennessee State
At the Sun Belt Conference Championships, Dudley did everything she could for her team. She ran four races and took fifteen jumps and three throws. That’s what it took for a high jump win, fourth in the pentathlon, fifth in the hurdles and a non-scoring 18th in the triple jump, scoring 19 points for the Blue Raiders—who won the championship by a single point.

Athlete of the Week: Chelsea Hayes, Louisiana Tech
Hayes hit a high-quality double at the Western Athletic Conference Championships: 7.24 in the 60 meters (0.01 outside the NCAA Championships automatic qualifying mark) and 6.45m/21’ 2” in the long jump (right on the auto qualifier). She will almost assuredly be the only athlete to compete in both events at the NCAA Championships, and could be a finalist in both.

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