Arizona’s Lalang named USTFCCCA national athlete of the yearby Christopher C. Wuensch on Nov. 23, 2011, under Sports
When you don’t lose a cross country race all season and beat your opponents by an average of more than 22 seconds, people tend to take notice.
When you do it as a freshman, they shower you with awards.
The Unites States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (more commonly and cumbersomely known as the USTFCCCA) named Arizona frosh Lawi Lalang as its NCAA Division I National Men’s Athlete of the Year on Wednesday.
According to Arizona Athletics, Lalang arrived in Tucsonfrom Eldoret, Kenya with no formal running training. But it wasn’t as if a runner’s pedigree wasn’t already coursing through his blood. Lawi’s brother Boaz Lalang won a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, following up a runner-up performance in the 800-meters at the International Association of Athletics Federations World Indoor Championships.
But Lawi put his own stamp on the running world, starting with his very first two races as a Wildcat.
The 20 year old set one of the top 3,000-meter indoor times in the nation in his first race. He followed that with a sub-four-minute mile and another top national time in his second race.
On Monday, he won a national title at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. with a time of 28:44.1 — three seconds shy of the course record.
Add course records at the Roy Griak and Wisconsin Adidas invitationals, a PAC-12 title (also a course record) and first-place showing at the NCAA West Regionals, and Lalang was the obvious choice for the honor.
Lalang is the second Wildcat to earn national honors in the past year. The NCAA named swimmer Justine Schluntz as the its Woman of the Year in October of 2010.