Noah Lyles - USATF Athlete of the Year (courtesy image)

USA Track & Field today announced their 2018 Athletes of the Year. Alexandria’s own Noah Lyles was named the 2018 Jesse Owens Award winner. Lyles is a 2016 graduate of T.C. Williams High School who runs professionally for Adidas. Shelby Houlihan won the 2018 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award.

The Jesse Owens Award honors the top male USATF athlete of the year while the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award honors the top female athlete. Winners are determined by a vote of the U.S. track and field media and an online fan vote. Lyles and Houlihan will be honored at the 2018 USATF Night of Legends Gala on Saturday, Dec.1, in Columbus, Ohio as part of the USATF Annual Meeting

Lyles claimed the Diamond League 200 meter title going undefeated over five Diamond League 200 meter contests. Houlihan (Sioux City, Iowa) set an American record at 5000 meters and won four USATF titles (two indoors and two outdoors).

“In a thrilling season, Shelby and Noah are being honored as the best of the best,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “On behalf of USATF, we congratulate them on historic seasons and thank them for inspiring their teammates, the country and the next generation of athletes.”

2018 Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year: Noah Lyles

Lyles’ 2018 season was incredible. He won a USATF title and went undefeated in the 200 meter dash en route to winning the Diamond League title.

At the USATF Outdoor Championships, Lyles ran a then world-leading 9.88 to win the Nike men’s 100 meter final, erasing his 100-minute-old mark of 9.89 set in the semifinals. Lyles became the youngest 100 meter champion in 34 years since Sam Graddy won at 20 years, 3 months, 30 days compared to Noah’s 20 years, 11 months and 4 days.

Lyles went on to win the Diamond League 200 meter final in 19.67 at Zürich, making him only the second man in history (along with Usain Bolt) to record four sub-19.70 clockings in one year. He clocked his season-best 200 meter time of 19.65 at Monaco, equaling the sixth fastest time by an American ever.

He wrapped up the season leading Team Americas to the IAAF Continental Cup title as he won the 100 meter dash in 10.01 and ran on the winning 4x100 meter relay team.

“I am truly honored and grateful to receive this year’s Jesse Owens Award. Jesse Owens was a pioneer who set a standard of excellence that I hope to achieve some day,” said Lyles. “To be named the USA’s top overall track athlete and win an award named for one of the greatest legends in our sport’s history is an incredible honor. Thank you to my family, friends and everyone that supports me.”

Shelby Houlihan - USATF Athlete of the Year (courtesy image)

2018 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Athlete of the Year: Shelby Houlihan

An American record and four USATF Championships titles highlighted 2018 for Houlihan.

After impressive Diamond League victories in Eugene and Lausanne, Houlihan captured a new 5,000 meter American Record in Heusden, Belgium. She clocked a time of 14:34.45, beating her personal record by over 20 seconds and the previous American record by more than four seconds.

A month earlier, Houlihan became the second female since 2003 to win both the 1,500 meters and 5,000 meters at a USATF Outdoor Championships. She grabbed her second and third national titles at the 2018 USATF Outdoor Championships in the Michelob ULTRA women’s 1,500 meters and Michelob ULTRA women’s 5,000 meters. She earned the 1,500 meter title with a time of 4:05.48 and the very next day returned for the 5,000 meter race. Houlihan moved up to the lead with two laps remaining and sprinted the final 100 meters to take the national title with a time of 15:31.03.

At the USATF Indoor Championships, Houlihan doubled up her titles for the second consecutive year. She sprinted to victory in an exciting, tactically run Garden of Life women’s 3,000 meters, winning in 9:00.08 then returned to the track the next day to win the 1,500 meter race. With her teammate Colleen Quigley charging down the stretch, Houlihan surpassed Quigley to win in 4:13.07.

Houlihan’s indoor national titles brought her to Birmingham, England for the IAAF World Indoor Championships where she finished fourth in the 1,500 meters with a personal best of 4:06.21 and crossed the line fifth in 3,000 meters.

"I'm so humbled and honored to have not only have been nominated for the Jackie Joyner-Kersee award, but to have also had enough people think that I am deserving of it,” Houlihan said. “Every one of these women, and many more, continue to inspire me and push me day after day to run my best and train my hardest. Thank you to everyone that took the time to vote and thank you to those that have followed my career and continually cheered me on. Your support means more to me than you know."

For more about the Jesse Owens and Jackie Joyner-Kersee Awards, including past winners, click here.