Preseason Women’s Bowerman Watch List Announced

January 6, 2016   

NEW ORLEANS – How intense will the competition be for the women’s Bowerman Trophy in 2016?

Check out these names – 2014 Bowerman Finalist Courtney Okolo; Reigning cross country champion Molly Seidel; and NCAA track & field champions in Kendell Williams, DeAnna Price, Erica Bougard and Irena Sediva.

Impressive, right? Here’s the twist: the above women are among those who didn’t make the cut as members of the 10-person preseason Watch List, which was announced Wednesday by the Bowerman Watch List Committee.

Returning 2015 Finalist Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin – the indoor collegiate record holder in the pole vault and outdoor NCAA champion – leads a preseason class that features nine NCAA champions from a year ago.

Payne is joined by Quanesha Burks of Alabama, Kyra Jefferson of Florida, Akela Jones of Kansas State, Shamier Little of Texas A&M, Cindy Ofili of Michigan, Keturah Orji of Georgia, Raevyn Rogers of Oregon, Raven Saunders of Ole Miss and Shelbi Vaughan of Texas A&M.

With eight more women also receiving votes, 2016 is shaping up as a hyper-competitive Bowerman chase.

The Bowerman Women’s Watch List 2016 Preseason

(Click student-athletes’ names for biographies & notes)

Quanesha Burks JR Alabama Sprints/Jumps Hartselle, Ala.
Kyra Jefferson SR/RS JR Florida Sprints Detroit, Mich.
Akela Jones SR Kansas State Combined Events St. Michael, Barbados
Shamier Little SO Texas A&M Hurdles Chicago, Ill.
Cindy Ofili SR Michigan Sprints/Hurdles Ypsilanti, Mich.
Keturah Orji SO Georgia Jumps Mount Olive, N.J.
Demi Payne SR (o) Stephen F. Austin Pole Vault New Braunfels, Texas
Raevyn Rogers SO Oregon Mid-Distance Houston, Texas
Raven Saunders SO Mississippi Throws Charleston, S.C.
Shelbi Vaughan SR Texas A&M Throws Azle, Texas
Also Receiving Votes: Morolake Akinosun (Texas); Erica Bougard (Mississippi State); Courtney Frerichs (New Mexico); Courtney Okolo (Texas); DeAnna Price (Southern Illinois); Irena Sediva (Virginia Tech); Molly Seidel (Notre Dame); Kendell Williams (Georgia)
NEXT: February 3

Payne was topped in last month’s Bowerman Award Ceremony by winner Jenna Prandini of Oregon, but the Ducks’ would-be senior has elected to forego her final collegiate season to begin her professional career.

Two more Watch Listers have a competitive history with Prandini. Alabama’s Burks topped the Bowerman winner in the outdoor long jump for the NCAA title, while Florida’s Jefferson took the indoor 200 crown over Prandini.

An additional two Watch List members have ties to the third and final 2015 Finalist, Kendra Harrison of Kentucky (who has exhausted her NCAA eligibility). Texas A&M’s Little outkicked Harrison to win the NCAA 400-meter hurdles title outdoors – an event in which she would eventually become the IAAF World Championships silver medalist.

Michigan’s Ofili was runner-up to Harrison in the 100-meter hurdles at the NCAA Championships.

Little was joined on the Watch List by teammate Shelbi Vaughan, the two-time defending NCAA Champion in the discus. The Little-Vaughan duo makes Texas A&M the lone school on the women’s Watch List represented by more than one athlete.

The remainder of the Watch List is filled with women who were breakout stars in their first seasons at the NCAA level.

In her first season in the NCAA after transferring from the NAIA, Kansas State’s Jones skyrocketed to No. 4 on the all-time college heptathlon list outdoors with an NCAA title in the event. In her second career heptathlon, no less.

Oregon’s Rogers ran the fourth-fastest time in collegiate history to win the NCAA Outdoor title at 800 meters as a frosh, becoming just the fourth collegiate woman to break the two-minute barrier during the NCAA season – a feat never achieved by 2014 Bowerman winner Laura Roesler of Oregon.

She wasn’t the only frosh to make history at NCAA Outdoors last season. Georgia’s Orji won the triple jump national title with the fifth-farthest jump in collegiate history, and finished runner-up in the event indoors.

Ole Miss’ Saunders swept the indoor and outdoor shot put titles as a frosh at Southern Illinois before following coach Connie Price-Smith to Oxford.

Also receiving votes were Okolo of Texas, Seidel of Notre Dame, Williams of Georgia, Price of Southern Illinois, Sediva of Virginia Tech, Morolake Akinosun of Texas, Erica Bougard of Mississippi State, and Courtney Frerichs of New Mexico.


The Bowerman, which debuted in 2009, is presented annually by the USTFCCCA to the most outstanding male and female collegiate track & field athletes in the nation.

Oregon’s Jenna Prandini and Florida’s Marquis Dendy are the reigning winners of The Bowerman, which is named for legendary Oregon track & field and cross country coach Bill Bowerman.

Past winners include Olympic gold medalist, four-time World Champion and decathlon world-record holder Ashton Eaton (2010), 10,000-meter Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp (2009), 2011 IAAF World Champion at 1500 meters Jenny Simpson (2009), 2013 100-meter hurdles World Champion Brianna Rollins (2013) as well as 2012 Olympic high jump bronze medalist and 2015 World Champion Derek Drouin (2013).