NEW ORLEANS—Awards rolled in this week for Adams State University Track & Field.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced their NCAA Division II Regional award winners for the indoor season. Four Adams State student-athletes and coaches were recognized as top performers in the South Central Region.
They included Sydney Giadbuday named South Central Men's Track Athlete of the Year; Rock Light named South Central Men's Coach of the Year and South Central Women's Coach of the Year; Jenna Thurman named South Central Women's Track Athlete of the Year and Clayton Foster named South Central Women's Assistant Coach of the Year
"Jenna and Sydney are so deserving of this recognition. Both have been leaders of our teams all indoor season. Assistant Coach Clayton Foster does so much for our program. I am so happy for and proud of him." said Head Coach Rock Light.
Gidabuday's South Central Men's Track Athlete of the Year award comes on the same day he was announced as the RMAC Men's Track Athlete of the Year and as a First Team All-RMAC performer in the 3000m. The sophomore holds the NCAA DII's fastest 3000m time (7:58.53), second fastest mile time (4:01.76), and third fastest 5000m time (14:02.56). He is also a member of the fifth-fastest Distance Medley Relay (DMR) team with a time of 9:47.77. During the 2016-17 indoor season, Gidabuday has won five of eight events he has entered. He is a two-time RMAC Men's Track Athlete of the Week winner (12/3 & 2/7) and a USTFCCCA Athlete of the Week recipient (2/7). In addition to his postseason nods, he was declared the RMAC Preseason Men's Athlete of the Year. The Orange, California, native will defend his 3000m and 5000m national indoor titles this weekend at the NCAA DII Championships in Birmingham, Alabama.
Light's South Central awards also come on the same day of his RMAC Men's and Women's Indoor Coach of the Year honors. His South Central Men's Coach of the Year nod was aided by winning a RMAC title in February that boasted five individual event winners. Throughout the indoor campaign the No. 2 ASU men accounted for 33 NCAA DII provisional marks and 7 automatic qualifying marks. The Grizzlies have 12 athletes/relays ranked in the top 10 in their respective events at the national level. The ASU men enter the Championships with 14 individual entries with Oliver Aitchison ranked first in the mile (4:01.32) and Gidabuday ranked first in the 3000m (7:58.53). Under Light's direction, the ASU men have been ranked no lower than No. 5 in each national indoor poll.
On the women's side, Light helped the No. 3 ASU women to a RMAC title with four individual champs at the meet. His athletes have performed valiantly to the tune of 21 NCAA DII provisional marks and 7 automatic qualifying marks. The Grizzlies carry a field of eight individual entries in the upcoming National Championships this weekend. The DMR team of Jenna Thurman, Leanne Allen, Roisin Flanagan, and Jessica Scherrer rank first at the NCAA DII level with a time of 11:26.86. The Grizzlies own 11 marks ranked in the top 10 nationally. Light is currently in his fourth season as head coach.
Thurman's regional award comes in the aftermath of producing four individual NCAA DII automatic qualifying times in the 800m, mile, 3000m, and 5000m events. She holds another automatic qualifying time as a member of the top-ranked DMR team to give the junior five total auto marks. Thurman ranks no lower than fourth national in each event that she owns an automatic qualifying time. In February, Thurman was a member of the RMAC Indoor Championships record-setting DMR team that clocked a winning time of 11:45.25. She established two Adams State indoor school records in the same weekend in the mile (4:42.14) and 3000m (9:28.85). Her mile feat replaced Zoila Gomez's previous mile record from 2002 of 4:43.94. Meanwhile, her 3000m record replaced Alicia Nelson's mark of 9:30.37 set in 2014. The Albuquerque, New Mexico, native is a two-time RMAC Women's Track Athlete of the Week recipient (1/24 & 2/14). She established collegiate personal-bests for the indoor season in the 800m (2:10.72), mile (4:42.14), and 3000m (9:28.85).
"This award is really special. I've never received a regional award before so it feels so good to know that all my hard work is paying off. This season has been incredible so far and is a reflection of the strength I've gained from my struggles as well as support from all of my amazing friends, coaches, teammates, and family. It's an even better feeling that I get to do what I love everyday – compete," Thurman said after Tuesday's announcement. "I'm proud of my teammates who almost all hit personal-bests this season. I'm also excited for our team to give it our best shot at the national title. I'm excited for our DMR team of Jessica Scherrer, Leanne Allen, Roisin Flanagan, and myself. I believe we have the best team in the nation!"
In his fourth season with the program, Foster has spent his primary focus on mid-distance and distance events (800m-5000m) as an Assistant Coach. As a result, Foster has helped the ASU women total eight national qualifiers and produce the NCAA DII's top-ranked DMR team for the upcoming National Championships. In his specific events, Foster helped coach athletes to 12 NCAA DII provisional marks and four automatic qualifying marks along with having five athletes ranked in the top 10 of their respective event. At the RMAC Championships the women captured four individual crowns en route to their team title. Away from the track, Foster takes a leading role in travel arrangements and student-athlete eligibility while also helping with recruitment. He also serves as an Assistant Coach for cross country and outdoor track & field.
"I'm very grateful for this award. I owe a big thank you to Damon Martin for being such a great mentor to me at Adams State," Foster said of his award. "None of these coaching awards are possible without the hard work and dedication of our athletes. I'm very proud of our Grizzlies here at Adams State University. It's an honor to receive this award."
Adams State next competes at the NCAA DII Indoor Track & Field Championships on March 9-11.