Longtime readers of this space know that last year I began giving out College Athlete of the Week awards, since no other organization or individual did so. Now the USTFCCCA has gotten into the act as well.
Good. I’m one guy with limited readership, but the USTFCCCA awards will get mention by a vast number of news outlets and college sports information departments. If in fact my awards were the inspiration for such (and it would be arrogant for me to think this), then I’m happy that someone reads and pays attention to what I write.
Note that my idea for a tiered Boston Marathon registration system is more or less the registration system the BAA now uses, and my suggestion that the USATF Indoor Championships be moved a week later than their traditional date is happening this year too. Again, I’m not going to say that big-time decision makers read this blog and follow my suggestions–I think I notice obvious things and other people do too.
Let’s get to it!
Athlete of the Week: Cas Loxsom, Penn State
Loxsom, the 2010 World Junior Championships silver medalist at 800 meters, had a subpar year in 2012. He did not seriously approach his PR of 1:45.31, nor did he qualify to the finals of the NCAA Championships or advance out of the first round of the Olympic Trials.
Apparently Loxsom wanted to make up for this in the 2013 season. On Saturday, he won the 800 at the Penn State Nittany Lion Challenge in 1:46.98, an indoor PR by a large margin. It makes him the 10th-fastest American collegiate runner of all time, and he’s just getting started. It’s also currently the world’s leading time–not a terribly meaningful statement this early in the season–but would have been good enough for #11 on last year’s world indoor list.
Honorable mention: James White, Nebraska
In his first meet for Nebraska, the Iowa Central JC transfer broke his indoor PR with a 2.27m / 7′ 5.25″ clearance at the Husker’s own Holiday Inn Invitational. This, too, is an indoor world leader. He adds to an already ridiculously deep men’s high jump this year, headlined by two returning Olympic medalists.
Team of the Week: Arkansas
Opening the season ranked #1 in the nation (by whatever measuring stick you use), the Razorbacks had a tough opponent in their traditional dual meet against #3 Texas. The meet came down to the last few events, but the Hogs came through for the win. Nine different Arkansas marks were in the weekend’s top eight collegiate marks.
Battle-hardening is apparently the plan for head coach Chris Bucknam. From ArkansasRazorbacks.com:
“(The win) is satisfying,” Bucknam said. “You have to be good when all the chips aren’t going your way. We had a bunch of distance runners that didn’t run today, so we looked a little weak in the distance area tonight but we have a lot of talent there. And without them, we were still able to pull off a win. Things weren’t perfect and we didn’t show every card we had, and yet we were still able to match the No. 3 team in the country and beat them.”
Honorable mention goes to Penn State, who dominated the weekend’s middle distance races at their own Nittany Lion Challenge.
Team Player: Terife Ejigu, Eastern Michigan
The only distance double of note over the weekend was run by Ejigu, a New Zealander born and raised in Ethiopia. In a home tri-meet against #7 Akron and Buffalo, he won the mile in 4:18.38 and the 3000 in 8:28.76 — and led his Eagles to a narrow 4-point win over the highly-ranked Akron Zips.
Canadians in America
Two different collegians competing in the USA broke Canadian junior indoor records. Akron freshman Shawn Barber pole vaulted 5.60m / 18′ 4.5″ to break his own record (and come just 5cm shy of the senior Canadian indoor record). Mississippi State freshman Brandon McBride ran 400 meters in 47.96 to break a nine-year-old record–and McBride is an 800 meter specialist, so Graham Hood’s junior record of 1:48.16 may soon be in danger as well.
Athlete of the Week: Brianna Rollins, Clemson
This was a rather obvious choice, as Rollins broke the Collegiate Record in the 60 meter hurdles and by a hefty margin. She ran 7.78 seconds at Clemson’s own Tiger Challenge, taking 0.06 off the old record held by USC’s Ginnie Crawford.
Honorable mention: Dezerea Bryant, Clemson
Also at the Tiger Challenge, Bryant ran NCAA season leaders in the 60 meters and 200 meters.
Team of the Week: Clemson
When both Athlete of the Week award winners come from the same team, that team had a good weekend. The Tigers put up eight marks in sprints, hurdles and field events that made the weekend’s top eight. This coming righ on the heels of the announced dismissal of head coach Lawrence Johnson, you could take it to mean that a) the athletes weren’t upset in the least by his firing, or b) they actually were upset and channeled their anger towards high performance.
Honorable mention goes to Indiana for their gutsy win over rival Purdue in a classic dual meet duel. The meet went back and forth, with the victory only being sealed by a second-place tie in the final event, the high jump. This also gives me an opportunity for a shout out to Hoosier Sammi Gwin, my wife’s cousin, who won the 600 and ran second leg on the winning 4×400.
Team Player: Kiara Porter, VCU
In a very narrow win at the Navy Women’s Invitational, where five points separated first from fourth, Porter had a hand in 24 of the Rams’ points. She won the 200 meters, took third in the 60 meters, and led off the second-place 4×400 relay. It was a very big win for VCU, as this was the first time Navy’s women had ever lost this home invitational.
Rounds One and Two
Missouri Valley Conference rivals Felisha Johnson of Indiana State and Brittany Smith of Illinois State had their first two battles this weekend. In the dual meet between their two teams, Smith won the weight throw and Johnson won the shot put. They are currently ranked #1 and #2 in the NCAA in the weight throw and #1 and #8 in the shot put. They’ll see plenty of each other this year.