Simmons earns USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week

Tuesday, January 24, 2017
by Wes Bloomquist ||

TYLER – UT Tyler senior Whitney Simmons has earned U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association NCAA Division III National Athlete of the Week honors after a nation-leading Weight Throw of 18.89 meters to win the Missouri Southern Open last Friday in Joplin, Missouri.

Simmons is the first UT Tyler athlete to earn USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week honors in the program's history. 

“I’m performing this season the way I hoped I would last season,” Simmons said. “Last season was a time for learning for me and a time to grow and mature as an athlete. Everything is just clicking right now. We fixed some things in training and have found what works for me and that’s made the difference so far.”

Simmons, who already owned and then broke the UT Tyler record at the meet, is ahead of Lydia Meier (Wisconsin-Stout) who had a Weight Throw of 18.38 at her home event for the second-best mark this season and Brandy Smith (Ithaca) who is third with a throw of 17.91 meters at the Cornell Greg Page Relays.

Simmons topped a field of NCAA Division II competitors with the second-place throw coming in at 16.92 meters in Missouri. A senior from White Oak, she had two throws over 18 meters during the competition and has won both Indoor meets this season after a throw of 18.19 meters to win at the University of Houston to open the season two weeks ago.

“To perform at such a high level this early is a testament to her character and work ethic,” UT Tyler coach Chris Stonestreet said. “It takes commitment to every detail, and she did that at the highest level. Based on what I've seen out of her in practice, there's plenty more to come. She's on a mission.” 

A two-time Indoor All-America in the Weight Throw, Simmons finished fifth at last year’s Indoor Championships after earning runner-up in 2014. She won the 2016 NCAA DIII National Championship in the Hammer during the Outdoor season. Kim Gallavan, who was a senior at Baldwin Wallace, won last year’s NCAA DIII title with a throw of 19.10 meters with Meier taking second with an 18.82 mark. Simmons earned fifth and All-America honors with a throw of 17.56 meters at the Indoor Championship in Iowa.

“Fifth place isn’t bad, but it was painful for me,” Simmons said. “I’ve used that to feed into my training this year. I don’t ever want to experience that feeling again. I take practice and lifting as serious as I can but still having fun.”

Simmons returns to competition on Friday at the Terrier Invitational in Boston, Massachusetts. The 2017 NCAA Division III Indoor Championship will be on March 10-11 at the Res Rec Center in Naperville, Illinois.