Minnesota State - Mankato stars Katelin Rains and Denise Mokaya and University of St. Thomas coaches Joe Sweeney and Steve Mathre earned regional awards this week from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Rains, the Division II record holder in the women’s pole vault, was named NCAA Division II North Central Region women's field event Athlete of the Year. This weekend the Spring Lake Park alum will shoot for her second straight NCAA indoor championship in front of her home crowd as MSU-Mankato host the D2 championships. At the North Central Conference Championships two weekends ago, Rains won the pole vault and triple jump.
Mokaya was named the North Central Region's men's track Athlete of the Year after he won the 800 meters and the mile at the NCC meet, leading Minnesota State to its third straight team title there. He is ranked second nationally in the 800 (1:51.41) and the mile (4:07.05). Mokaya, the 14th-place finisher at the 2007 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships, is a sophomore from Ngong, Kenya.
Sweeney, who guided the Tommie women to their ninth straight women's title at the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference indoor meet, was named NCAA Division III's women's Central Region Coach of the Year. Sweeney has coached at St. Thomas for 27 years, winning National Coach of the Year honors in 1995. His teams have won 21 of the 24 MIAC indoor titles contested.
Mathre, whose Tommies swept the men's and women's titles at the MIAC indoor meet for the 24th year in a row, earned the region's men's Coach of the Year award. The St. Thomas men have never lost at the MIAC indoor Championships.