Multi-Events, Underclassmen Headline New Bowerman Women’s Watch List
February 3, 2016
NEW ORLEANS – Turn back the clock 12 months and “The Year of the Vault” was the craze sweeping the college track & field world and, consequently, the women’s Watch List for its most prestigious award, The Bowerman.
Back to real-time, this first month of 2016 showed us that the new year could be a watershed moment in several other events – including a burgeoning, historic rivalry in the combined events.
The first regular-season edition of the women’s Watch List for The Bowerman reflected that accordingly.
Wednesday’s list announced by The Bowerman Watch List Committee marked the 2016 Watch List debut for three-time NCAA combined events champion Kendell Williams of Georgia, the lone newcomer to this month’s 10-woman list.
The Bowerman Women’s Watch List 2016 February
(Click student-athletes’ names for biographies & notes)
Both Williams – who is making her 11th appearance on the Watch List in the past three seasons – and returner Akela Jones of Kansas State were in hot pursuit of Williams’ 4678-point collegiate pentathlon record in January, though both ultimately came up just shy. Jones came the closest at 4643 points for the No. 2 score in collegiate history, followed by a 4558-point effort by Williams for the No. 8 spot on the all-time performances list.
Both women are also near the top of the NCAA DI descending order lists in the high jump, long jump and hurdles.
Combined-event athletes haven’t been the only women chasing all-time status in the early goings of the indoor season. A pair of sophomore sensations have been (not so) gently rapping, rapping at the chamber door of collegiate history in Raevyn Rogers of Oregon and Raven Saunders of Ole Miss.
Rogers has yet to compete in her signature 800-meter event – the event in which she is the fourth-fastest woman in collegiate history and the defending champion outdoors – but regardless she is already in historic form. She ran 1:26.34 over 600 meters on Washington’s oversized track for the fastest-ever time by a collegian, and split sub-52 anchoring Oregon’s 4×400 relay this past weekend.
Saunders is having unprecedented early-season success in the shot put, as her most recent 18.98m (62-3¼) winning mark has all sorts of superlatives attached to it: No. 3 on the all-time collegiate performers list, fifth-farthest throw in collegiate history, and farthest-ever throw by a collegian in the month of January. It was one of six 18m+ throws for her so far in 2016; the rest of the country has a combined zero.
Alabama junior Quanesha Burks also added her name to the all-time collegiate performers list in her signature long jump event, checking in as part of a three-way tie at No. 10 with a leap of 6.71m (22-¼). She’s now a member of the 13-member club of collegians who have broken the 22-foot barrier indoors.
Shamier Little, whose primary 400-meter hurdles event isn’t contested until the outdoor season, is one of five NCAA DI women to have gone sub-53 in the open 400 meters. Her teammate Shelbi Vaughan also patiently awaits her time to shine in the outdoor-only discus event, though in the meantime she’s already improved her weight throw PR by a meter-and-a-half to 18.73m (61-5½).
Coming full circle to last year’s “Year of the Vault”: indoor collegiate record holder and 2015 Bowerman Finalist Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin remains on the Watch List during a redshirted indoor campaign. She has no remaining indoor eligibility for the Lumberjacks (but will be back for the outdoor season), and her accomplishments competing as an unattached athlete during the winter will not be considered for Bowerman voting purposes.
Six women missed the top-10 cut but were included among those also receiving votes. Michigan’s collegiate-leading hurdler Cindy Ofili dropped from the preseason top-10, and she was joined by Florida’s collegiate-leading 60-meter sprinter Shayla Sanders, reigning outdoor javelin champ Irena Sediva of Virginia Tech, defending cross country and outdoor 10,000-meter champion Molly Seidel of Notre Dame, Oregon’s Jasmine Todd and collegiate-leading weight thrower Kaitlyn Long of NCAA DII’s Winona State.
Notably, Long is the first DII athlete to appear on the Women’s Watch list since Western State high jumper Barbara Szabo in 2014.
ABOUT THE BOWERMAN
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).