Nov. 24, 2009

 

Courtesy USTFCCCA

NEW ORLEANS – Adams State’s Damon Martin swept men’s and women’s Division II National Cross Country Coach of the Year honors while Adams State’s Reuben Mwei and Seattle Pacific’s Jessica Pixler were named National Cross Country Athletes of the Year Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Martin, in his 17th year at Adams State, led the Grizzlies to dual men’s and women’s NCAA Division II Cross Country Championship titles on Saturday. The feat marked the second-consecutive season in which his men’s and women’s squads won national titles and it was the seventh-straight crown for Adams State’s women. The awards are Martin’s 25th and 26th overall National Coach of the Year honors.

In addition, Martin’s men easily defended their NCAA Central Region title with a score of 20 points, placing all seven runners in the top 15. The 20 points scored by the Grizzlies were the lowest point total at the Central Region meet since 2001, and the team’s 27-point margin of victory was also the largest margin of victory in regional competition since 2006.

On the women’s side, Martin led the Grizzlies to their third-straight NCAA Central Regional title. Adams State placed three runners in the top five en route to a 52-point win for their seventh regional title in the last eight years. The Grizzlies also won this year’s RMAC Conference cross country title, extending their RMAC record of eight-straight conference titles. Martin was also named the 2009 RMAC Women’s Coach of the Year.

Adams State senior Reuben Mwei is a first-time winner of the men’s National Athlete of the Year award. Mwei clocked 30:27.8 at Saturday’s 10-kilometer race to claim the NCAA Individual Championship, finishing just four tenths of a second ahead of Harding’s Daniel Kirwa for the crown in becoming Adams State’s first individual title holder since 2003.

Mwei also finished first at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships and finishing third at the NCAA Central Regional Championship this fall. Mwei, a senior from Kapsabet, Kenya, finished the Central Region course with a time of 30:57.3, helping lead the Grizzlies to their second-straight regional title.

Seattle Pacific’s Jessica Pixler made NCAA history in becoming the first female Division II athlete to win three individual cross country championships, doing so with a seven-plus-second victory in the women’s six-kilometer championship race (20:22.6). Pixler earns the National Cross Country Athlete of the Year honor for the third-straight year.

Pixler, a senior from Sammamish, Wash., went out from the start and ran to her fourth-straight NCAA Division II West Regional title. She cruised over the six-kilometer course in a record time of 20:08.09, breaking her previous course record of 20:36.4. Pixler also finished a four-year career sweep of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference meet when the senior ran to a ten-second victory.