M-F Athletic’s National Athletes of the Week - February 26, 2024
National Athlete of the Week is an award selected and presented by the USTFCCCA Communications Staff at the beginning of each week to multiple collegiate Track and Field athletes, when applicable (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions, the National Junior College divisions, and the NAIA).
Nominations are open to the public. Coaches and sports information directors are encouraged to nominate their student-athletes; as are student-athletes, their families and friends, and fans of their programs. Nominated athletes are noticed before those athletes found through searching TFRRS.
The award seeks to highlight not only the very best times, marks and scores on a week-to-week basis, but also performances that were significant on the national landscape and/or the latest in a series of strong outings. Quality of competition, suspenseful finishes and other factors will also play a role in the decision.
Christopher Morales Williams, Georgia
Sophomore | Sprints | Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
Christopher Morales Williams. Remember the name. Seriously. CMW, as he’s known colloquially, set an all-time world best in the 400 meters at the SEC Indoor Championships this past weekend. The budding star from Georgia turned two laps of the Randal Tyson Track Center oval in 44.49, not only winning the SEC title but surpassing the previous best of 44.52 set by 2018 The Bowerman winner Michael Norman in his award-winning year. It was a huge PR for the Canadian, who entered the meet with 45.39 as his best time in the event. Doing the math, he cut off nearly one full second in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This is the third year in a row – and fourth time overall – that a male athlete from Georgia has been named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season: Matthew Boling on January 18, 2022 and January 17, 2023; Kendall Williams on February 21, 2017.
Lamara Distin, Texas A&M
Senior | Jumps | Hanover, Jamaica
Lamara Distin smashed the collegiate record in the high jump and became the first female collegian – indoors or outdoors – to clear the 2-meter barrier. Distin topped 2.00m (6-6¾) on her final attempt this past weekend to win the event at the SEC Indoor Championships. That bettered the 1.98m (6-6) CR first set in 2009 by Destinee Hooker of Texas and equaled in 2016 by Akela Jones of Kansas State. Distin’s mark is also higher than the outdoor CR of 1.99m (6-6¼) established by 2013 The Bowerman finalist Brigetta Barrett. The Texas A&M standout had a clean record through 1.97m (6-5½), her previous best indoors or outdoors. Then came her attempts at 2 meters: she missed twice before success on her final attempt of the competition. Distin retired, choosing not to go any higher. This is the first time since 2021 that a female athlete from Texas A&M has been named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. The Aggies earned a treasure chest of honors that year, including a record four in a row from January 26 to February 16: eventual The Bowerman winner Athing Mu hauled in three by herself and one as a member of the 4×400 relay; Tyra Gittens captured another for the squad.
Peyton Barton, Missouri Southern
Senior | Throws | Rocky Comfort, Mo.
If you charted Peyton Barton’s marks on a scatter plot, you’d have quite the exponential rise. Barton’s latest mark, a monstrous 23.13m (75-10¾) heave at the MIAA Indoor Championships this past weekend, was the second-farthest effort in NCAA DII history. By no means did the toss stay within divisional restraints, either: Barton is now ranked among the top-10 national performers. In the month of February alone, the Missouri Southern standout has posted four all-time top-5 marks in the weight throw – one for each weekend: Barton went 22.62m (74-2½) at the Bearcat Open on February 3; then came the 9th Annual Indoor Gorilla Classic with a slight improvement to 23.09m (75-9¼); he took a short break at the USATF Indoor Championships with a 22.79m (74-9¼) before his massive PR this past weekend. This is the second time this season that Barton has been named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week. Barton previously earned national weekly honors on February 6.
Denisha Cartwright, Minnesota State
Graduate Student | Sprints | Nassau, Bahamas
Denisha Cartwright was a blur this weekend. Three events, three conference titles. No mark stood out more than her 7.93 clocking in the 60-meter hurdles, which shattered the NCAA DII record she previously held with Indira Spence at 8.05. Yes, Cartwright took an unfathomable 0.12 seconds off the all-time best. Cartwright also blistered the track in the 60 meters and 200 meters: a division-leading 7.23 in both the prelims and finals of the 60; 23.68 to round the bend. All told, Cartwright’s 30 points helped Minnesota State win its fourth consecutive team title at the NSIC Indoor Championships. Just a few days down the line, Cartwright will look to repeat her dream performance from one year ago at the NCAA DII Indoor Championships, where she scored 22 points behind an individual title and two third-place finishes. The odds are ever in her favor as the nation’s top 60-meter time belongs to her and the 200-meter gap is about as close as can be. And the 60H? Well… you know. This is the fifth time in her career that Cartwright has been named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week during the Indoor Track and Field season. Cartwright previously earned national weekly honors on February 9, 2021, December 6, 2023, January 24, 2023, and February 28, 2023.
Justin Eichler, UW-Platteville
Senior | Throws | Mukwonago, Wisconsin
Whoever won the weight throw at the WIAC Indoor Championships had to bring their ‘A’ game. Four of the top-10 athletes on the seasonal Descending Order List were entered. Justin Eichler did just that. Eichler imposed his will early, opening with a mark that would have won the competition. He took all six attempts, though, and saved the best for last. Eichler launched the weight 20.97m (68-9¾) to win by nearly three feet and become the No. 5 performer in NCAA DIII history. This is the first time since 2017 that a male athlete from UW-Platteville has been named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season (Ian LaMere on February 14).
Kenadee Wayt, Mount Union
Grad Student | Sprints | Wheeling, West Virginia
Not one, not two, not three… Kenadee Wayt won four conference titles at the OAC Indoor Championships this past weekend – and threw in an NCAA DIII record, as well as several seasonal top-5 marks, for good measure – to lead Mount Union to the top of the team podium. Wayt provided the Purple Raiders with 32.5 points as they won their third consecutive team crown and tenth overall in program history. The Mount Union standout started the meet with a bang. Wayt traversed 500 meters of the Muskingum University track in 1:13.23 to shatter the NCAA DIII record previously held by Grace DeVanny of Wesleyan (Conn.) by nearly one full second. Fast forward to Day 2 and check out what Wayt did: Wayt anchored the Purple Raiders to victory in the 4×200 relay; she won the 60 meters in a PR of 7.52, which ranks her second on the seasonal Descending Order List; then, she won the 200 meters in 24.85 to rank her third nationally with the time conversion. This is the fourth time in her career that Wayt has been named M-F Athletic National Athlete of the Week during the indoor season. Wayt previously earned national weekly honors on January 23 of this year, as well as January 24 and February 28 of 2023.