Chesang named top female athlete by NJCAA

Chesang named top female athlete by NJCAA

By Dana Becker

Winrose Chesang's resume already sparkled, as the Iowa Central runner picked up numerous honors and championships during her time with the team.

Now, though, Chesang's name is legendary, as she was named the 2019-20 Betty Jo Graber Female Student-Athlete of the Year by the NJCAA.

"While it is the greatest honor for Winrose, it is definitely a nice tribute to our program and her teammates," Iowa Central Director of Track, Field and Cross Country Dee Brown said. "She accomplished what she did because of her hard work and her teammates pushing her to be better daily. It is very exciting and quite an honor for Iowa Central, our cross country program and our track and field program to have such an elite person among us.
"She made all of us better people, teammates and runners too."

Chesang, a native of Kenya, was the 2020 Iowa Central Female Athlete of the Year, as well. She is enrolled at Iowa State and competing for the Cyclones. 

"Iowa Central is the best school with the best coaches with great competition and I did well in running and competition because of Coach Brown and the other coaches that supported me," Chesang said. "They have good training for a person who is looking to run Division I and they took us to really good competition and that prepared me and made me strong and that's why I am the way I am right now. It wasn't easy but with their training I was able to get stronger in my two years at Iowa Central."

During her two seasons on campus for the Tritons, she won the 2019 NJCAA Half Marathon championship and finished fourth overall at cross country nationals, helping the Tritons claim the overall team title. Chesang was also the runner-up in the 5K at the 2018 NJCAA Indoor Championships. 

Iowa Central won three team titles with Chesang in the lineup. 

Brown knew he had something special in Chesang right off the bat. 

"Honestly her entire first semester here of track and field I was quite amazed by how quiet she was all the time, but always smiling," Brown said. "She worked hard and always hit her times I gave her in workouts and practices. Then once I saw her race at nationals - it was quite obvious I needed to push her harder.

"She raced with such intelligence and hunger that I knew there was so much more to her and what she wanted to accomplish even if she wasn't quite able to accurately vocalize that to me at the time. As time went by she opened up quite a bit - she was a tremendous team leader - always leading by example, always smiling and always positive and pushing her teammates."

In all, she earned seven NJCAA All-American honors in track and one each in cross country and half marathon. She also broke the school's record in the 6K with a time of 21:02.6. 

A pre-nursing major, Chesang excelled in the classroom, finishing with  3.36 overall GPA. 

She has already found success with the Cyclones, setting personal records and placing third in the 5K and sixth in the 3K at the 2020 Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships. 

The Graber award rounds off a complete list of honors and awards for the decorated Triton and Chesang looks forward to reaching more milestones in the future academically, majoring in kinesiology and athletically in competition at Iowa State.

Chesang is not only the first Iowa Central athlete to earn the honor, but she is the first athlete from the ICCAC to be recognized.