NEW ORLEANS, La. - National Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the 2017 NCAA Division II Cross Country season were announced Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) following the national championship meets in Evansville, Ind. this past weekend.
Senior Caroline Kurgat of Alaska Anchorage and James Ngandu of Tiffin were honored with the Doris Brown Heritage Award (Women’s Athlete of the Year) and the Doug Watts Award (Men’s Athlete of the Year), respectively. The duo won their respective races convincingly at the Angel Mounds on Saturday, Nov. 18.
Damon Martin of Adams State swept the coaching awards, earning the Joe Vigil Award (Men’s Coach of the Year) and the Duane Vandenbusche Award (Women’s Coach of the Year) after his Grizzlies became the first program since 2009 to win both the men’s and women’s NCAA Division II Cross Country Championship team titles in the same season.
Kurgat was nearly unstoppable this year and was unblemished against Div. II competition.
After beginning the season at the University of San Francisco Invitational – where she placed fifth behind four NCAA Division I runners – the three-time All-American from Eldoret, Kenya finished the year undefeated. The senior rattled off four-straight wins in impressive fashion, punctuated by the first-ever national championship performance by a Seawolf in women’s program history.
Kurgat dominated the competition in Indiana, making her charge to the lead nearly 3,000 meters in, winning by nearly 20 seconds. Both Kurgat and Ngandu finished third a year ago at nationals.
This is the second time the Alaska Anchorage cross country programs have garnered a postseason award from the USTFCCCA. Micah Chelimo was honored following his 2012 national individual title.
Caroline Kurgat’s 2017 Awards
– 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)