All-Time Great Conference Meets Boost Ekpone, Okolo & Petrillose Onto The Bowerman Women’s Watch List
May 22, 2014
NEW ORLEANS – Earlier this week, Texas sophomore Courtney Okolo and Texas A&M junior Olivia Ekponé shared National Athlete of the Week honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) after phenomenal conference championships performances.
On Thursday, the duo shared the spotlight again as both were added to the Post-Conference Championships edition of the Women’s Watch List for The Bowerman Trophy, collegiate track & field’s highest individual honor.
Okolo’s pole-vaulting Texas teammate Kaitlin Petrillose also returned to The Watch List.
The Bowerman Women’s Watch List – Post-Conference Championships 2014
(Click student-athletes’ names for biographies & Notes)
Okolo blazed to a new collegiate record at 400 meters in a 2014 world-leading time of 50.03 to win the Big 12 title in the event, eclipsing the former record of 50.10 set by Monique Henderson of UCLA at the 2005 NCAA Championships.
The writing was on the wall for her historic 400 meters performance, as she split 49.7 as a member of the Longhorns’ Penn Relays record-setting 3:25.05 in late April.
Okolo became the fourth different woman from Texas to join the Watch List this season. She and Petrillose – the collegiate pole vault leader who won the Big 12 title and took attempts at the collegiate record – are currently represented, while two-time The Bowerman Semifinalist Ashley Spencer was displaced from the list. Sprinter Morolake Akinosun has also made an appearance.
Ekponé had herself an historic weekend, as well, as she claimed 100 and 200 meters titles at the SEC Championships, in addition to anchoring the winning 4×400 relay. Her world-leading winning 22.23 to at 200 meters not only set the SEC Championships record, but it moved her up to No. 3 on the all-time collegiate performers list.
She also equaled the wind-legal collegiate lead in 2014 at 100 meters in a winning 11.11, and split 49.9 to anchor the winning 4×400 relay team.
With those three turning in big performances, it took nothing less than big performances from the members of the previous Watch List to keep their spots in the top 10.
Ekponé’s discus-throwing teammate Shelbi Vaughan of Texas A&M recorded one of the all-time great collegiate throws en route to winning the SEC title with a heave of 208-8 (63.60m) – moving her to No. 6 on the all-time collegiate performers list with the best throw since the turn of the new millennium.
Meanwhile on the track at the SEC meet, Kentucky’s Kendra Harrison swept the hurdles titles at both the 100- and 400-meter distances. Her 54.76 to win the quarter-mile variety was a new collegiate-leader and No. 3 in the world.
Rounding out the Watch List action at SECs was frosh heptathlete Kendell Williams of Georgia, who claimed the heptathlon title with a score of 5877.
The Pac-12 Championships saw a trio of Watch List members in action, all three of whom won conference titles in their signature events. Oregon’s duo of Laura Roelser and Phyllis Francis took home trophies at 800 and 400 meters respectively, while Colorado’s Shalaya Kipp claimed the 3000-meter steeplechase title.
At the Ivy League meet two weekends ago, Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino did something in one weekend no other Ivy League woman had ever done in a career: win the 3000, 5000 and 10,000 meters titles.
With Ekponé, Harrison, Vaughan and Williams, the SEC improved its all-time appearances total to a nation-leading 123 since the Watch List debuted in 2010. Roesler, Francis and Kipp pushed the Pac-12’s total to 107, while the Big 12 is just one shy of the half-century mark with Petrillose and Okolo.
Biographies on each of the members of the Watch List can be found here.
ABOUT THE BOWERMAN
The Bowerman Trophy, which was first awarded in 2009, is presented annually by the USTFCCCA to the most outstanding male and female collegiate track & field athletes in the nation.
Indiana’s Derek Drouin and Clemson’s Brianna Rollins are the reigning winners of The Bowerman, which is named for legendary Oregon track & field and cross country coach Bill Bowerman. In addition to their collegiate achievements, Rollins is the reigning World Champion in the 100 meter hurdles — an event for which she also holds the American Record — while Drouin has won bronze medals at both the 2012 Olympics and 2013 IAAF World Championships.
Past winners include Olympic gold medalist, World Champion and decathlon world-record holder Ashton Eaton (2010); 10,000-meter Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp (2009); and 2011 IAAF World Champion at 1500 meters, Jenny Simpson (2009).
In total, the winners from the award’s first four years have won three Olympic Medals, six World Championships (one relay, two indoor) and 11 World Championships medals (two relay, one indoor). When considering finalists for the award, 13 individuals have earned a combined six Olympic medals, eight World Championships (one relay, four indoor) and 23 World Championships medals (three realy, six indoor).
Former winners of and finalists for The Bowerman currently hold 21 national records. Each former winner of the men’s Bowerman Trophy holds at least two national records, while two of the five women’s winners are current national record-holders.
Bowerman served the sport of track and field in numerous ways. His leadership in the USTFCCCA’s predecessor organization, the National Collegiate Track Coaches Association, and his contributions to NCAA track and field and the running community as a whole are among his many lasting legacies.
For more information on The Bowerman, the award, the trophy and Bill Bowerman himself, visit TheBowerman.org.
ABOUT THE USTFCCCA
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) is a non-profit professional organization representing cross country and track & field coaches of all levels. The organization represents over 8,000 coaching members encompassing 94% of all NCAA track & field programs (DI, DII, and DIII) and includes members representing the NAIA as well as a number of state high school coaches associations. The USTFCCCA serves as an advocate for cross country and track & field coaches, providing a leadership structure to assist the needs of a diverse membership, serving as a lobbyist for coaches’ interests, and working as a liaison between the various stakeholders in the sports of cross country and track & field.