USTFCCCA Announces Indoor Track & Field Regional Awards

March 4, 2013

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Six Mountain West Indoor Track & Field student-athletes and coaches were honored by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) when the organization announced its 2013 Regional Awards on Monday.

Wyoming junior Mason Finley was named the Mountain Region Men's Field Athlete of the Year, while San Diego State junior Shanieka Thomas earned the West Region Women's Field Athlete of the Year award. New Mexico coach Joe Franklin was the Mountain Region Women's Coach of the Year, and San Diego State's Shelia Burrell claimed the same honor in the West Region. Air Force assistant coaches Juli Benson and Scott Steffan were the Mountain Region Men's and Women's Assistant Coaches of the Year.

Finley, a junior from Buena Vista, Colo., holds the second-best throw among collegians this season in the Shot Put. He broke the Wyoming school record with a toss of 65'-9.75'' (20.06m), and was named the Men's Outstanding Performer at the 2013 MW Indoor Track & Field Championships for his win in the Shot Put and second-place finish in the Weight Throw.

Thomas, a junior from St. Andrew, Jamaica, was named the Women's Outstanding Performer at the 2013 MW Indoor Track & Field Championships after winning the Triple Jump in 43'-8.75'' (13.33m), anchoring the 4x400 Relay to victory in 3:42.11 and finishing second in the 400 Meters (55.67). Thomas leads the nation in the Triple Jump with a mark of 46'-2.50'' (14.08m), which currently stands as the sixth-best indoor Triple Jump in NCAA history.

Franklin, in his fifth year with the Lobos, led his team to a runner-up finish at the MW Indoor Track & Field Championships. Specializing in distance events, Franklin coached Conference champions in the 800 Meters (Josephine Moultrie), Mile (Moultrie) and 5000 Meters (Kendra Schaaf). His Distance Medley Relay team placed second and Kirsten Follett finished third in the 3000 Meters.

Burrell, in her fourth season at San Diego State, was named the MW Women's Coach of the Year after leading the Aztecs to their first-ever MW indoor championship. San Diego State won the meet with 123 points, 20 more than runner-up New Mexico, despite not having a student-athlete compete in an event farther than 400 meters. Under Burrell's direction, four athletes won five events, including Kristen Brown in the Pole Vault and 60 Hurdles; Shanieka Thomas in the Triple Jump and Allison Reaser in the Pentathlon. The 4x400 Relay also won in 3:42.11, which is the second-fastest time in school history.

Steffan is in his sixth year as coach of the Pole Vault and High Jump at Air Force. He helped lead the Falcons to a second-place finish in the MW Indoor Track & Field Championships. His pole vaulters and high jumpers combined for 40 points in the Conference meet, which included taking five-of-eight scoring spots in the Pole Vault. Two of his vaulters (Cale Simmons and Joey Uhle) are ranked in the top-16 nationally. Steffan was named the National Collegiate Pole Vault coach of the Year on Jan. 18.

Benson, a fifth-year middle- and long-distance coach, guided Jen Bremser to an Academy record at 3000 Meters (9:40.73; second place), breaking a 23-year-old program mark and also standing as the second-fastest in MW Championship history. Benson also mentored the Distance Medley Relay team to its second Conference title.