NEW ORLEANS, La. – Caroline Kurgat continued her stellar season by gaining national recognition on Tuesday as she was named the Div. II National Women’s Athlete of Week, announced by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Kurgat, an Alaska Anchorage junior, became the first Seawolf to win the award for outdoor track and field since 2013 (Ruth Keino, Susan Tanui). She previously earned the award three times during the 2017 cross country season, which ended in a Div. II national title.
She earned the recognition on Tuesday after breaking two school records – including a GNAC record and posting two NCAA Div. II championship automatic qualifying times – in the span of two days, Apr. 19-20 at the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, Calif.
On Thursday, Kurgat covered 5,000 meters in 15 minutes, 43.95 seconds – the fourth-fastest time in Div. II history and best this season.
The Nursing and Medical Laboratory Science major eclipsed the GNAC record of 15:44.07 set in 2011 by 12-time NCAA Div. II champion Jessica Pixler of Seattle Pacific. She bettered the UAA record of 15:59.55 established in 2016 by Joyce Chelimo. Kurgat improved upon her career-best 5K time by more the 45 seconds. She finished second in a deep 243-athlete field to professional runner Marielle Hall – a 2016 U.S. Olympian for 10,000 meters. Hall won in 15:39.42.
On Friday, she shattered the 1,500-meter school record, running 4:21.18. Kurgat’s time stands as the fourth fastest in GNAC history, and second-fastest in Div. II this season. The previous UAA 1,500-meter record was set by Ivy O’Guinn (4:25.19) in 2012.
The National Athlete of the Week is an award selected and presented by the USTFCCCA Communications Staff at the beginning of each week to eight collegiate outdoor track & field athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions and NJCAA Division I).
A handful of Seawolves will compete at the GNAC Multi-Event Championships, Apr. 30-May 1 in Nampa, Idaho. The majority of the remaining qualifiers will challenge for GNAC Outdoor Championships, May 11-12 in Monmouth, Ore.
2017-18 – CAROLINE KURGAT’S AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
– National Scholar Athlete of the Year
– DII Honda Athlete of the Year nominee for Cross Country
– National Athlete of the Year
– National Individual Champion
– West Region Athlete of the Year
– 3-time USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week (Sept. 5, Oct. 9, Oct. 23)
– All-West Region – GNAC Runner of the Year
– 2-time GNAC Runner of the Week (Aug. 28 – Sept. 3, Oct. 2-8)
– All-GNAC – GNAC All-Academic
OUTDOOR TRACK & FIELD
– 3-time GNAC Women’s Track Athlete of the Week
(Mar. 19 – 25, Mar. 26 – Apr. 1, Apr. 16 – 22)
– USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week (Apr. 24)