2016 Indoor Athletes of the Week #6

There always comes a point in a track & field season where the cutoff for making our “athlete of the week” honors has to deal with either breaking conference records or making an impact on a national scale.  There were a lot of historic performances from last weekend, but we needed to highlight just the cream of the crop for this week.

Male Athlete of the Week:

At the end of the 2015 indoor season, Rudy Winkler broke into the conference weight throw record books by throwing the tenth best toss in conference history – 68-00 1/2 – to win Indoor Heps.  But since he was still a rookie, we knew that it would only be a matter of time before really started to challenge the all-time conference record of 76-01 set in 2012 by Princeton’s Conor McCullough (which was five feet longer than the next best entry in the record book, which was from 1979).  But the Cornell thrower is challenging that record now.  Last Friday at the Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup, Winker made two attempts over 70 feet, ultimately throwing 74-10 1/2 to set a new meet and facility record (Winkler also threw 71-08 3/4 on an early attempt).  The mark is the second best in conference history and the second best mark in the NCAA this season.  How soon will he catch McCullough?

Female Athletes of the Week:

Allison Harris had earned her back-to-back athlete of the week honor as the Princeton junior set a new personal best in the pole vault at the Sykes & Sabock Challenge Cup on Friday.  Last week, Harris cleared 13-05 1/4 which was a personal best at the time.  Her new best is now the new conference record – 13-09 1/4 – as she broke Tory Worthen’s almost 4 year old record of 13-06 1/4 (which Worthen set at the 2012 Indoor Heps).  The mark also ranks her 17th in the NCAA.

Harris will be sharing this honor with her teammate, Taylor Morgan.  At the same meet, Morgan set a 127 point new personal best in the pentathlon to win the event with a score of 4,050 points.  The score is the third best in conference history, being only 3 points behind Brown’s Lindsay Taylor (which is the Indoor Heps Championship record), and ranks Morgan 16th in the NCAA.  Could this score hold up for NCAA qualification as the top 16 will make the initial cut?

Male Rookies of the Week:

Flash back to cross country for this one.  Columbia rookie Brian Zabilski has extended his cross country season into March as he earned a spot on Team USA for the Pan-American Cross Country Championships.  Zabilski finished fifth in the USATF Cross Country Championship Boy Junior 8km race on Saturday in Bend, Ore., in 26:41.  The Pan-American Championship will be held on March 5th, 2016 in Caraballeda, Venezuela.

Harvard freshman Nicky Maxwell made NCAA history on Friday night at the Crimson Elite meet.  Maxwell raced the 60m dash, finishing with a time of 9.01 seconds.  Why is notable?  Because Maxwell is the first student-athlete to ever compete in a NCAA track & field competition with a prosthetic leg.  He was certified to run by the NCAA back in mid-December.  More of his story is available through the video above.

Female Rookies of the Week:

If you break two conference records over the span of one weekend, you should probably be recognized in a weekly award.  That’s what we’re doing with Harvard’s Gabrielle Thomas.  On Friday at the Crimson Elite meet, she broke the 60m record of 7.40 set last year at Indoor Heps by Harvard’s Danielle Barbian as Thomas finished second in the 60m with 7.38 seconds.  The next day, Thomas reset her own 200m record to 23.37 as she won the event at the Boston University Scarlet & White Invitational.  Her 200m time ranks her 10th in the NCAA and was the fifth fastest time run this past weekend within Division 1 competition.  She is the fastest rookie in the nation for the 200m.

Speaking of “fastest rookies in the nation”, we have a second one – Columbia’s Libby Kokes.  At the Villanova Invitational on Saturday, Kokes ran 4:43.93 in the mile to finish third in the event, steps behind her teammate Olivia Sadler (4:43.58) in second place.  Kokes’ time ranks her 34th in the NCAA and fourth in the Ivy League conference standings.  Prior to college, her previous indoor mile best was 4:53.95, which she matched at the Columbia-Yale-Dartmouth tri-meet at the end of January.

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