Three student-athletes and two Big 12 cross country coaches have been awarded USTFCCCA Region Athlete and Coache of the Year honors for the 2013 cross country season in Division I, as voted by the division’s coaches.
Texas Tech’s Kennedy Kithuka has been named the Mountain Region’s Men’s Athlete of the Year for the second-consecutive season. Iowa State’s Crystal Nelson earned back-to-back Women’s Athlete of the Year honors for the Cyclones as Betsy Saina won the Midwest Region honor last year. Texas’ Marielle Hall defended her Athlete of the Year honor in the South Central Region.
Oklahoma State’s Dave Smith earned the Midwest Region Men’s Coach of the Year accolade while Iowa State’s Andrea Grove-McDonough garnered the Midwest Region Women’s Coach of the Year honor, marking the fourth-straight year an ISU coach has received the award.
Men’s Athlete of the Year (Mountain Region)
Kennedy Kithuka, Texas Tech
Defending national champion Kithuka claimed his second consecutive Mountain Region title in dominant fashion with a 29:23.60 performance over the 10K course at Weber State. The senior from Thika, Kenya, was 16 seconds clear of the next-closest finisher Anthony Rotich of UTEP — the second-best returner from the 2012 NCAA Championships (fourth), behind Kithuka himself. The win was his seventh of the season, including Big 12 and Pre-Nationals wins.
Women’s Athlete of the Year (Midwest Region)
Crystal Nelson, Iowa State
Nelson, a sophomore from Winchester, Va., claimed the Midwest Region title in 20:12.35 to lead Iowa State to the team title. Her 6K time on her home course in Ames, Iowa, was more than eight seconds faster than runner-up Molly Kayfes of Minnesota. The region title is the latest accomplishment in season that includes a runner-up showing at the Big 12 Championships, a third-place finish at Roy Griak and a 10th place finish at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
Women’s Athlete of the Year (South Central Region)
Marielle Hall, Texas
Hall, a senior from Haddonfield, N.J., turned in one of the most dominant performances of the regional championships weekend with a 24 second win en route to defending her South Central title. She completed the 6K course at Baylor in 19:40.64 well ahead of runner-up Dominique Scott of Arkansas, the SEC champion. In addition, she won the Big 12 title and finished third at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.
Men’s Coach of the Year (Midwest Region)
Dave Smith, Oklahoma State
In his eighth season at the helm of Oklahoma State’s men’s cross country program, Smith guided his Cowboys to the Midwest Region title over Tulsa, 45-57. Five OSU runners finished in a row between seventh and 11th, led by Tom Farrell in seventh, and the Cowboys were the only squad with seven runners in the top 40. The regional win came on the heels of a Big 12 title, and Smith’s Cowboys also notched an early-season win over current No. 1 Northern Arizona.
Women’s Coach of the Year (Midwest Region)
Andrea Grove-McDonough, Iowa State
In her first season in Ames, Iowa, Grove-McDonough guided the Cyclones to a decisive Midwest Region title over Minnesota, 39-59. Her Iowa State squad was led by individual winner Crystal Nelson and all five scorers were among the top 15 finishers. Two weeks prior, the Cyclones were decisive team victors at the Big 12 Championships, winning 35-104 over West Virginia, and they also finished fifth in a deep Wisconsin adidas Invitational field.