The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

SEC athletes and coach receive USTFCCCA honors

435 days ago
Photo: Michael Wyke | AP Images

National Athletes and Coaches of the Year for the 2017 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field season were announced by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Winners were voted on by member coaches following the conclusion of the 2017 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, which were held this past weekend in College Station, Texas.

Men's National Track Athlete of the Year
Christian Coleman - Tennessee

Coleman put an exclamation point on his fine indoor season this past weekend at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships. The junior from Atlanta, Georgia won the 60 and 200 to become the first man to sweep the short sprint titles since Justin Gatlin in 2002. Coleman's time in the 60 equaled the collegiate record (6.45), set the meet record and his margin of victory (0.09) is the largest in meet history. Coleman doubled back with a time of 22.11 in the 200, which is the 2nd fastest time in collegiate history, one one-hundredth of a second off the standard set by Wallace Spearmon (20.10). He went undefeated in the 60 during the indoor season and notched five sub-6.56 efforts. Coleman is the first male athlete from Tennessee to receive this honor and first from the SEC to do so since 2010 (Torrin Lawrence, Georgia).

Men's National Field Athlete of the Year
KeAndre Bates - Florida

Bates capped a stellar indoor season at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend. The junior from El Paso, Texas won the long jump with a mark of 8.04m (26-4½) and placed 2nd in the triple jump with a mark of 16.62m (54-6½). Bates became the 4th man since 2006 with top-2 finishes in both horizontal jumps. Just a few weeks earlier, Bates was a double winner at the SEC Indoor Championships as he won the long jump and triple jump titles - the latter of which over two-time defending NCAA champ Clive Pullen. Bates is the 2nd jumper from Florida to win this award in the past three years (Marquis Dendy, 2015).

Women's National Field Athlete of the Year
Keturah Orji - Georgia
Raven Saunders - Ole Miss

Orji and Saunders share the award after the vote was too close to call. This is the second year in a row that the vote was split (Akela Jones and Kendell Williams were named Co-Women's National Field Athletes of the Year in 2016).

Orji continued her dominant junior season this past weekend at NCAAs where she won the triple jump and placed 3rd in the long jump to score 16 points for the Bulldogs. The native of Mount Olive, New Jersey only took two attempts in the triple jump, but only really needed one since her 1st mark put her more than a foot ahead of the competition. Just a few weeks earlier, Orji rewrote the collegiate record books at the SEC Indoor Championships. Orji posted three marks better than the old collegiate record and her best of the event - 14.32m/46-11¾ - also stands as the American record.

Saunders had a historic outing at NCAAs this past weekend, as she put her name all over the collegiate record books. Her final attempt in the shot put on the night soared 19.56m (64-2¼) to shatter her own collegiate record by more than a foot. Shortly before that, she posted another lob of more than 19 meters, earning her the 4th-best mark in collegiate history. All of this came after an outstanding indoor season for the Rebels, where she won the SEC title in the shot put with a throw of 19.07m (62-6¾) that doubles as a meet record. The native of Charleston, South Carolina was undefeated on the year in the shot put. She also placed 7th at NCAAs in the weight throw with a heave of 20.81m (68-3¼).

Men's National Coach of the Year
Pat Henry - Texas A&M

Henry's Aggies entered the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships ranked 5th in the USTFCCCA National Team Rankings. If a team from the SEC was going to win the title, many thought it would be Florida - but after Texas A&M's 4×400 team beat the Gators to the finish line this past weekend, the championship team trophy wasn't leaving Gilliam Indoor Stadium. Henry coached the aforementioned 4×400 team to a collegiate record earlier in the season and guided Fred Kerley to a truly dominant season in the 400 meters (Kerley owned each of the top-5 all-condition times at the distance this past season). The Aggies peaked at the right time as evident by their two NCAA event titles (400, 4×400) and a pair of runner-up finishes by unsung heroes in Will Williams (long jump) and Audie Wyatt (pole vault). Henry last won this award in 2004 when he was a coach at LSU.