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Mike Rutt named USATF Athlete of the Week

INDIANAPOLIS -- Mike Rutt wins USA Track & Field Athlete of the Week honors after two exceptional performances over the weekend in Boston. His first-place finish Feb. 7 in the men’s 800 meter at the Boston University Valentine Meet was a perfect precursor to the anchor leg he ran in the 4x800m relay at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix held Feb. 8 at the Reggie Lewis Center.

“There are so many good athletes,” said Rutt on his AOW selection. “To be selected as someone who has done well this week, it’s an honor. It really is.”

Rutt (Plainsboro, N.J.) is a member of the New York New Jersey Track Club, and he claimed the 800m victory at the Boston University Valentine Meet in 1:45.90. With little rest, the next day he lined up alongside some of Team USA’s finest, including Erik Sowinski, for the final leg of the 4x800m relay at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix.

Despite the NYNJ Track Club finishing second in Saturday’s event, Rutt’s team actually earned the American record time of 7:13.22 since the team finishing first had no club affiliation. Rutt and Sowinski were neck-and-neck, each splitting 1:46.66 for the anchor leg.

His professional career includes highlights such as earning a spot on the U.S. team that competed at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships, where he took sixth place in the 800m. Not only did Rutt finish top-10 at 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials - Track & Field with a time of 1:46.83, but he was also a four-time All-American at the University of Connecticut.

Rutt’s next appearance is at the Millrose Games, held Feb. 15 in New York City before he sets his sights on the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., for another chance to represent the red, white and blue on the international stage. 

Now in its 13th year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.

2014 Winners: January 15, Chris Derrick; January 22, Galen Rupp; January 29, Galen Rupp; February 5, Alexa Efraimson; February 12, Mike Rutt.

-- Contributed by Glen McMicken

Valentine Invitational -- Mike Rutt prefaced his Saturday New Balance 4x800 heroics with a U.S.-leading 1:46.71 for 800 meters at Boston University, but it was Amanda Winslow who jumped the highest up the all-time lists with her 4:26.28 in the mile. Winslow's time makes her the sixth-fastest American ever.

In the men's mile, four more U.S. men joined the sub-4 club, led by Travis Mahoney's 3:58.61 in seventh. New Jersey-New York TC clubmate Patrick McGregor was just behind him at 3:58.70, while Taylor Gilland finished at 3:58.77. Michael Williams of Princeton won the third heat in 3:59.63 to claim the #414 spot on the chronological list.

2010 World Junior 5000 sixth-placer Emily Sisson of Providence briefly took the U.S. lead in the 3000 with her PR 9:00.76.

Armory Collegiate Invitational -- It wasn't a PR for Pitt's Brycen Spratling, but his 1:00.85 in the 500 at New York was the ninth-fastest ever for the distance indoors. Kansas star Diamond Dixon, an Olympic 4x400 gold medalist in London, zipped to the eighth-fastest time ever by a collegian in the women's 500 with a 1:10.06.

Corey Crawford of Rutgers added a big chunk to his long jump PR and moved into the top spot collegiately with a 7.97 meters/26-1.75 leap. Crawford entered this season with a 7.63m/25-0.5 lifetime best.

The other big field event mark came from Wisconsin's Michael Lihrman, who won the 35-pound weight throw with a 22.96m/75-4 toss to climb to sixth on the all-time American collegiate list. Lihrman started his college career as an NCAA Division III All-America at Wisconsin-Stout.

Virginia Tech Doc Hale Elite -- Clemson's Dezerea Bryant, who twice won World Junior gold in the 4x100 for Team USA and nabbed 200 bronze in 2012, rocketed to the fastest 200 time in the world this season with her 22.82 in Blacksburg. That is also the fastest time she has run in her career, indoors or out.

Mark Hollis, a 2011 World Championships team member, pole vaulted to the U.S. lead with his winning 5.65m/18-6.5 clearance.

Samford Invitational -- At the newest hotbed of indoor track and field, 2012 World Junior decathlon champion and 2013 World Championships 13th-placer Gunnar Nixon made the most of the top-notch Birmingham CrossPlex to score a U.S.-leading 6,039 points and win the heptathlon. Nixon was the U.S. Indoor champion last season.

Meyo Invitational -- Only a 4:18 1600 runner and a sixth-placer for Oshkosh West High School at the Wisconsin state meet, Loyola (Chicago) junior Sam Penzenstadler made a huge breakthrough at Notre Dame as he became the 415th U.S. man to join the sub-4 mile club with a 3:58.21.

Aggie Invitational -- Texas A&M junior Brea Garrett came into 2014 with a respectable 20-pound weight PR of 20.10m/65-11.5, good for second at the 2013 SEC indoor meet. She shattered that mark at College Station with a stunning 22.66m/74-4.25 throw that gave her the No. 10 spot on the all-time collegiate list.

New Mexico Classic -- Two of America's rising stars in the long jump got an early look at the Albuquerque track where they will contend for the U.S. title in two weeks, and Tyron Stewart came away with a nation-leading 8.16m/26-9.25 win ahead of training partner Jeffery Henderson's 8.03m/26-4.25.

Texas sophomore Ryan Crouser unleashed the shot put 21.23m/69-8 to take over the No. 11 slot on the all-time collegiate list, and fellow Longhorn Courtney Okolo, the 2013 Pan American Junior 400 champ, won her specialty in a collegiate-leading 52.40. Another Texas field athlete, Kaitlin Petrillose, moved to equal-eighth on the all-time collegiate list in the women's pole vault with a 4.45m/14-7.25 jump.

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