Kemonie Briggs, Riley Cooks Sweep Big West Conference Field Athlete of the Year Honors
Jason Smith named Big West Men’s Freshman of the Year
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Long Beach State track and field took three of the eight Big West Conference premier awards after Kemonie Briggs earned Men’s Field Athlete of the Year, Jason Smith took home Men’s Freshman of the Year, and Riley Cooks garnered her second straight Women’s Field Athlete of the Year honor. The league office announced the awards on Thursday morning.
The accolades come on the heels of Briggs and Cooks winning Big West Conference Athletes of the Meet at the Big West Conference Championships last week.
Briggs, a sophomore jumper, continues to excel for the Beach as he was named Men’s Field Athlete of the Year marking the third straight Long Beach State honoree to garner the award. He earns the honor due to his success in the field as he is currently the highest nationally and regionally ranked male athlete from the Big West this season.
The Long Beach, Calif., native also ranks fifth in the West Region and eighth in the nation in the men’s long jump with a career-best mark of 7.99m (26’2.75”) which he posted during the LBSU-UCLA Dual meet to open the outdoor season. His PR sustained as the nation’s leading mark through the month of March.
Briggs is the Long Beach State school record holder in the men’s long jump and went on to win the event at the Big West Championship as he became a two-time long jump champion. His record-setting mark of 7.99m (26’2.75”) leads all Big West Conference jumpers by nearly 15 inches.
Additionally, Briggs also competes in the 400-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 4x400-meter relay, and 4x100-meter relay. At the Big West Conference Championships, he placed second in the 400m (47.16), third in the 200m (21.37), third in the 4x400m relay (3:11.91), and fourth in the 4x100m relay (41.19) en route to capturing the Athlete of the Meet award.
Cooks is a versatile senior who has excelled in the multi-events throughout her collegiate career. With the Field Athlete of the Year honor, she became the first in Big West history to claim that award in back-to-back years.
The Coarsegold, Calif., native also won the heptathlon at the Big West Championships in back-to-back years, becoming the first to accomplish that feat since Janel Chandler of Nevada in 1997 and 1998. Cooks scored a new Long Beach State record of 5,671 points that came within 38 points of heptathlon Olympian Barbara Nwaba’s meet record, set in 2012. Cooks’ performance ranks her 12th nationally and qualified her for the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore.
Cooks turned in an extraordinary performance at the Big West Championships as she captured first place in the heptathlon long jump with a lifetime best mark of 6.12m (20’1”). She came back the following weekend and won the individual long jump with a distance of 6.03m (19’9.5”).
She totaled 26 individual points after placing fourth in the 4x100-meter relay, fifth in the 100-meter hurdles and seventh in the javelin throw. Cooks’ all-around outstanding performance earned her recognition as the Athlete of the Meet for the second straight year.
Smith, a freshman jumper out of San Bruno, Calif., won the Men’s Freshman of the Year award becoming the fifth Long Beach State athlete to be honored, and fourth in six years. He joins Alex Goldberg (2007), Jahmani Lockett (2012), Willie Alexander (2013), and Briggs (2016) on the list.
In his rookie season, Smith has recorded a career-best long jump mark of 7.62m (25’) which makes him the highest nationally and regionally-ranked male freshman in the Big West. He is currently ranked 28th in the West and 57th in the nation.
As a qualifier for the NCAA West Preliminary in Austin, Texas, Smith ranks among the top 10 freshman long jumpers in Division I. He finished second only to Briggs at the Big West Championships. He won the long jump on three occasions this season and has also seen action in the triple jump and high jump. Smith also anchored the Long Beach State 4x400-meter relay team that placed third at the Big West Conference Championships with a time of 3:11.91.
Long Beach State has dominated the Big West Conference awards for the last several years as the Beach racked up seven of the 14 awards since 2003.
2017 Big West Track & Field Awards
Men’s Track Athlete of the Year: Darion Zimmerman, Cal State Fullerton
Women’s Track Athlete of the Year: Lexis Lambert, CSUN
Men’s Field Athlete of the Year: Kemonie Briggs, Long Beach State
Women’s Field Athlete of the Year: Riley Cooks, Long Beach State
Men’s Freshman of the Year: Jason Smith, Long Beach State
Women’s Freshman of the Year: Kierra Davis, UC Davis
Men’s Coach of the Year: John Elders, Cal State Fullerton
Women’s Coach of the Year: Avery Anderson, CSUN
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