Three Join Pre-NCAA Championships Women’s Bowerman Watch List

March 2, 2016   

NEW ORLEANS – “Historic” was a de facto prerequisite for women who hoped to join or maintain their spot on the pre-NCAA Indoor Championships edition of the Watch List for The Bowerman.

The ten-woman list for collegiate track & field’s highest individual honor was a tough list to crack ahead of the March 11-12 championships in Birmingham, Alabama.

The final month of the regular season saw these women combine to: break a collegiate record, post seven all-time top-10 performances, run the fastest-ever regular season time in their event and move to stratospheric heights on the all-time world list.

The Bowerman will be presented in December at the 2016 USTFCCCA Convention in Orlando, Florida, following the completion of the collegiate track & field season in June.

The Bowerman Women’s Watch List
Pre-NCAA Indoor Championships

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

Felicia Brown SR Tennessee Sprints Lithonia, Ga.
Akela Jones SR Kansas State Combined Events St. Michael, Barbados
Shamier Little SO Texas A&M Hurdles Chicago, Ill.
Courtney Okolo SO Texas Sprints Carrollton, Texas
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.
Molly Seidel SR Notre Dame Distance Hartland, Wis.
Shelbi Vaughan SR Texas A&M Throws Azle, Texas
Also Receiving Votes: Mikiah Brisco, LSU; Quanesha Burks, Alabama; Devynne Charlton, Purdue; Kendell Williams, Georgia
NEXT: March 16 (Post-NCAA Championships)


Returning to the list for the first time since last outdoor season was 2014 Finalist Courtney Okolo of Texas, joined by newcomers Felicia Brown of Tennessee and Molly Seidelof Notre Dame.

That trio joined Akela Jones of Kansas State, Shamier Little of Texas A&M, Keturah Orji of Georgia, Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin, Raevyn Rogers of Oregon, Raven Saunders of Ole Miss and Shelbi Vaughan of Texas A&M.

Saunders accounted for the aforementioned collegiate record, toppling the old shot put standard by one centimeter with a 19.23m (63-1¼) heave at the Iowa State classic. In the process she also moved to No. 5 on the all-time U.S. indoor performers list. She’s also responsible for two of those top-10 performances, becoming the only woman in collegiate history to throw 19 meters or farther twice in the same competition.

Payne soared higher than anyone else on the Watch List, but with a significant caveat. Competing unattached without any remaining indoor eligibility (but with the ability to return for one final outdoor campaign), the Stephen F. Austin senior cleared 4.90m (16-¾) and 4.88m (16-0) last month to move to No. 3 on the all-time world performers list in the pole vault as one of just four women to have ever broken 16 feet indoors.

Watch List Appearances by Team – All-Time

1 Oregon 72
2 Texas A&M 51
3 Arkansas 25
4 LSU 25
5 Arizona 22

However, by Bowerman rules, those performances are ineligible for consideration for The Bowerman since she did not have collegiate eligibility at the time. Same goes for whatever performances she may turn in at the USATF and IAAF World Indoor Championships later this month.

Her appearance is indicative of the Watch List Committee’s confidence in Payne’s ability to keep the momentum going during her final season of outdoor eligibility.

Those same Millrose Games saw Rogers move to No. 2 all-time among collegians at 800 meters with a 2:00.90 performance in her season debut in the event.

Arguably no one had a stronger conference championships weekend than Jones, who claimed three individual titles in the 60-meter hurdles, the high jump and the long jump. In the latter, she moved into a share of both the collegiate lead and the No. 8 spot on the all-time college performers list at 6.75m (22-1¾).

Watch List Appearances by Conference – All-Time

1 SEC 190
2 Pac-12 122
3 Big 12 64
4 ACC 42
5 Big Ten 15

Okolo, whose 2015 Bowerman campaign was derailed by an injury that kept her out of the NCAA Outdoor Championships, is back with a vengeance after winning Big 12 titles both at 200 and 400 meters. Prior to Big 12s, her 51.16 at Nebraska’s Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational was the fastest time ever run by a collegian prior to conference or national championships.

Brown made waves at the SEC Championships by not only upsetting defending national 200-meter champion Kyra Jefferson of Florida, but running a historic 22.45 in the process. The time moved her to No. 3 on both the all-time collegiate and U.S. indoor performers lists.

The SEC Championships also saw Orji move to No. 6 on the all-time collegiate indoor triple jump list at 14.08m (46-2½).

Seidel makes an appearance as the first-ever Watch Lister for Notre Dame. She claimed the ACC 5000 meters title in 15:19.64 for the fifth-fastest time in collegiate history, and is also ranked No. 2 among collegians this year at 3000 meters (an event she also claimed at ACCs).

With the outdoor specialty events opening up later this month during the outdoor season, Texas A&M hurdler Shamier Little and discus thrower Shelbi Vaughan remained on the Watch List.

Also receiving votes for the award were Mikiah Brisco of LSU, Quanesha Burks of Alabama, Devynne Charlton of Purdue, and Kendell Williams of Georgia.


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).