Carolina's Hastings selected as NCAA Division I Track Athlete of the Year
Georgia's Dahlgren named Field Athlete of the Year
June 14, 2007
Columbia, SC - The honors keep rolling in for South Carolina sprinter Natasha Hastings as the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) named her the National Women's Track Athlete of the Year today on a vote by the coaches after the NCAA Championship. Hastings is the Women's Track Athlete of the Year for the Division I and Georgia's Jenny Dahlgren is the Women's Field Athlete of the Year.
Earlier this week, Walter Dix of Florida State and Jake Arnold of Arizona were named the Division I Men's Athletes of the Year, and Bob Braman of Florida State and Greg Kraft of Arizona State were selected the Division I Coaches of the Year.
"Just seeing the names of the people who have been nominated for this award this year - it's amazing to win this award. You don't' see someone break 2:00 minutes very often in the 800m like Alyssa Johnson of Cal did and the list goes on and on. To be in the same sentence with people like Kerron Stewart - all of the women - it's truly a blessing," said Hastings, an 11-time.
Was this a goal this year? "I thought about it, but I didn't think about focusing on it. I knew it was a possibility, but I knew I had to work very hard and focus on everything week to week and let things come as they did".
Undefeated - does she feel a target going to the USA Championships next week when she will be running against a number of professionals, including the USA's own Sanya Richards, the world champion? "I feel the most relaxed because I was undefeated all year and I expected to do great things in every meet," said Hastings. "I know there are different expectations heading into next week, but I'm really excited because now I can focus on myself more and what I need to do race wise. I'm more looking forward to running next week than anything."
"We are very excited a deserving athlete received such a deserving award. I'm so pleased the coaches around the country recognize her accomplishments this year. The coaches understand best what kind of year she had," said USC Head Coach Curtis Frye. "Natasha earned it. I don't have enough words to express how Natasha performed this year. We are looking forward to her having a long career in track and field, making many Olympic and World Championship teams. She represents the Gamecocks so well on the track and in the classroom. She was, in my opinion, was the most valuable athlete at the NCAA Championships this year. Carolina has been so blessed by her talents this year. Our entire staff, team and University congratulate her for this outstanding award."
Hastings, who was named the SEC Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year on Tuesday, won the 400 meters at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships in 50.15 seconds, the second-fastest clocking in meet history. She was undefeated during the collegiate season, also winning Southeastern Conference and Mideast Region titles by large margins. In addition, she won the 200m title at the NCAA East Region with a region record and led USC to the 4x400m relay title at the same meet.
Hastings, a junior from Rosedale, N.Y., broke 51 seconds four times during the outdoor season. She clocked a world-leading 50.23 in winning the East Region title and lowered her best to 50.15 at the NCAA Championships. She narrowly missed the collegiate and meet record of 50.10, set by UCLA's Monique Henderson in 2005.
Hastings also anchored South Carolina to a second-place finish in the 4 x 400 relay at the NCAA Championships. Earlier this year, she set a collegiate indoor record of 50.80 in winning the NCAA indoor title.
Dahlgren set a collegiate record in the hammer throw, reaching 237 feet, 4 inches at the Spec Towns Invitational in April. She won the Southeastern Conference and East Region titles and set a meet record of 232-0 in winning her second straight NCAA championship last week in Sacramento.
The competition for top national honors was fierce this year, with several top challengers in both categories. Alyssa Johnson of Cal, Katie Erdman of Michigan and Sally Kipyego of Texas Tech had outstanding seasons on the track, as did Rhonda Watkins of UCLA, Sarah Stevens of Arizona State and Destinee Hooker of Texas on the field.
Dahlgren, a senior from Buenos Aires, Argentina, set a collegiate and South American record in the hammer with her 237-4 throw. At the NCAA Championships, Dahlgren beat the second-longest performer in collegiate history, Brittany Riley of Southern Illinois (227-4). Dahlgren had the three longest throws of the competition - 228-1 (twice) and 232-0.
In 2006, Dahlgren won the NCAA hammer title outdoors and the 20-pound weight throw indoors.