USF’s Phillips is Central Region CC Athlete of the Year
USF's Phillips is Central Region CC Athlete of the Year
NEW ORLEANS — Following dominating wins at the NSIC and Central Region Championships, sophomore Mason Phillips of the University of Sioux Falls Men’s Cross Country Team has been selected as the NCAA DII Central Region Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
The USTFCCCA announced regional awards Wednesday (Nov. 8) for men’s and women’s athletes of the year as well as coaches of the year by vote of member coaches from DII.
“We are incredibly proud of Mason (Phillips), who certainly has stepped up and performed at a high level this fall,” said USF Men’s Cross Country Head Coach Doug Petersen. “This is a great reward for his outstanding work and dedication.”
Phillips, a sophomore business major from Bailey, Colo., continued his history-making season at USF by becoming the first-ever USTFCCCA Central Region Athlete of the Year.
In 2017, Phillips, who was named all-region by the USTFCCCA earlier this week, has had a breakout season at USF. After finishing 13th in the 2015 NSIC Championships, he was redshirted a year ago. In five races this fall, Phillips is unbeaten, including individual wins of at least 20 seconds or more four times.
At the NCAA DII Central Region Championship on Nov. 4 in Kearney, Neb., Phillips averaged 5:01.6 per mile with a clocking of 31:12.56 on the 10,000-meter course in becoming the first-ever USF Cross Country student-athlete to win an individual regional title. He finished more than 25 seconds better than the second place finisher.
By running to the individual title, Phillips automatically advanced to the NCAA Division II Championships. His sterling performance helped the Cougars finish fifth among the 27 squads at the regional and later received an at-large berth to the NCAA DII Cross Country Championships on Nov. 18 in Evansville, Ind. USF received notice of an at-large berth on Monday as the team became the third USF men’s cross country team since 2013 to earn a berth to the DII nationals.
Phillips, who was named the program first-ever U.S. Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association National Men’s Athlete of the Week on Sept. 25, captured the NSIC Championship, just missed cracking 24 minutes in the 8K race, with a career-best 24:06.6. He was the first USF runner since Bobby Brockmueller in 2014 to claim a title.
Aside from winning the NSIC Cross Country Championship, Phillips, who earned All-NSIC cross country honors for the second time, captured the Augustana Twilight (19:15.09, four mile race), which he won by 22 seconds as the Cougars won their second team title in three seasons. Phillips became the first USF cross country runner to win the highly competitive Roy Griak Meet (25:31, 8K). He captured the title by 29 seconds over teammate Steven Brown. Phillips also added a title with a victory at the Fort Hays State Tiger Open in 24:48 over the 8K course.