Mahala Norris named MW athlete of the year
Hailing from Roseburg, Oregon, Norris had a record senior season that covered both cross country and track. In four months, Norris won the NCAA title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, All-America honors in indoor track (fourth in 5,000-meter), cross-country (fourth) and outdoor track (first in steeplechase), Mountain titles. West in the cross-country, steeplechase and 5,000-meter race – the latter two coming from performances of the MW Championship Meet Record and a steeplechase final appearance at the US Olympic Trials.
Norris won the fourth NCAA Division I Championship title on June 12, when she used a furious kick in the final yards to win the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Racing a career best time of 9: 31.79 in victory, she clocked the sixth fastest time in college history, the second fastest time in Mountain West history and a mark that improved his own Academy record for the fourth time in five games.
The unprecedented success of 2021 began in early March – at the start of the delayed cross-country season, when she became the first Academy woman to win a Mountain West cross-country title. Posting the fourth-fastest 6K championship in Mountain West history (19: 57.7), Norris crossed the finish line almost five seconds ahead of the field.
The victory kicked off a 10-day spell that saw Norris claim All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships and NCAA Cross Country Championships – both races. taking place in different states, just three days apart. Norris recorded the third fastest indoor 5,000-meter time in Academy history (15: 51.73) to finish fourth and secure All-America First Team status on the track in Fayetteville, Ark. , before winning the same standings after a 6K time of 20: 11.8 on the cross country course in Stillwater, Okla. – the best result of all the riders who tried the indoor / cross-country double.
Norris, who took home Mountain West and USTFCCCA Mountain athlete of the year honors for her cross-country success, was also named a finalist for the Honda (cross country) award.
Her success continued into the outdoor season, where she set championship records to win both the 3,000-meter steeplechase (then Academy record 9: 44.10) and the 5,000-meter race (15: 39.13 – the second fastest time in Academy history) at the Mountain West Outdoor Championships. Norris, who was named MW Outstanding Female Performer for her two conference titles, was ranked among the nation’s top 10 in steeplechase and the top 20 in the 5,000-meter run after the conference meet, and has eventually added the Mountain West Outdoor Female Athlete of the Year to her award collection.
The Air Force Academy’s most valuable female athlete in 2021, Norris rewrote the Academy’s record in the steeplechase four times in her first five competitions – cutting over 40 seconds from the previous standard on that streak – while also climbing the conference and NCAA rosters. In addition to her success in the steeplechase, she ended her career with an Academy record in the mile (4: 49.49a) and the Air Force‘s five best all-time scores in the 5,000 outdoor race. meters (No. 2, 15: 39.13), 1,500 meter run (No. 2, 4: 15.98), 5,000 meter indoor run (No. 3, 15: 51.73) and 3,000 meter run (No. 5, 9: 34.50a).
With today’s announcement, Norris became the first woman in Air Force Academy history to win the league’s top prize – and only the second Falcon overall, joining the former cross country champion. -country and track and field Patrick Corona, who won the program’s top prize in 2015-16.
The Mountain West Athlete of the Year Award is presented annually to a male student-athlete and student-athlete who have achieved athletic excellence during the past academic year in the 18 sports of the conference: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross-country, football, men’s and women’s golf, women’s soccer, softball, women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s indoor athletics, men’s and women’s outdoor athletics , volleyball. In addition to superior athletic achievement, the criteria for the MW Athlete of the Year award requires applicants to be in good academic health throughout the competitive season, and to demonstrate good character and ability. good behavior on and off the playing field.