Pre-NCAA Prelims Edition of Women’s Bowerman Watch List Announced

NEW ORLEANS – Collegiate track & field’s regular season may have come to an end, but the race for the sport’s highest individual honor – The Bowerman Trophy – is still very much up in the air.

With only the NCAA Preliminary Rounds (May 26-28) and the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon (June 8-11) left on the schedule, 10 women have emerged as frontrunners in the Pre-NCAA Prelims edition of The Bowerman Watch List announced Wednesday by the Watch List Committee.

Nine of the ten women from the Watch List of two weeks ago held steady through the Conference Championships portion of the season, with only former Finalist Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin falling off the pace.

The Bowerman Women’s Watch List
Pre-NCAA Prelims 2016

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

NAME YEAR SCHOOL EVENTS HOMETOWN
Felicia Brown SR Tennessee Sprints Lithonia, Ga.
Akela Jones SR Kansas State Combined Events St. Michael, Barbados
Shamier Little JR Texas A&M Hurdles Chicago, Ill.
Cindy Ofili SR Michigan Hurdles Ypsilanti, Mich.
Courtney Okolo SR Texas Sprints Carrollton, Texas
Keturah Orji SO Georgia Jumps Mount Olive, N.J.
DeAnna Price SR Southern Illinois Throws Moscow Mills, Mo.
Raevyn Rogers SO Oregon Mid-Distance Houston, Texas
Raven Saunders SO Mississippi Throws Charleston, S.C.
Kendell Williams JR Georgia Combined Events Marietta, Ga.
 
Also Receiving Votes: Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (Kentucky), Courtney Frerichs (New Mexico), Taylor Ellis-Watson (Arkansas), Lexi Weeks (Arkansas)
 
NEXT: June 6

 

After a spectacular indoor season – which, unfortunately for Payne, doesn’t count for Bowerman consideration as she had exhausted her indoor NCAA eligibility – the vault sensation has not competed since the end of March due to an injury sustained from a broken pole at the Texas Relays.

Remaining on the list were Felicia Brown (Tennessee), Akela Jones (Kansas State), Shamier Little (Texas A&M), Cindy Ofili (Michigan), Courtney Okolo (Texas), Keturah Orji (Georgia), DeAnna Price (Southern Illinois), Raevyn Rogers (Oregon), and Kendell Williams (Georgia).

Stepping up into the vacancy was former Watch List member Raven Saunders of Ole Miss. The sophomore returned to the “top 10” for the first time since the post-NCAA Indoor Championships edition of the list in mid-March.

The collegiate indoor record holder in the shot put suffered a shocking upset at the NCAA Indoor Championships – failing to even advance to the finals – but has bounced back this outdoor season with nine marks farther than 18 meters – including the ninth-farthest outdoor throw of all-time in mid-March at 18.75m (61-6¼).

This past weekend she won the shot put title at the SEC Championships and scored in both the discus and the hammer.

It was a busy weekend for the Watch List members at the SEC Championships; fully half of the 10-woman list, including Saunders, made in impact in Tuscaloosa in what is arguably the nation’s toughest conference.

Orji tied the all-conditions, all-time collegiate best mark in the triple jump with a windy 14.60mw (46-10¾, +2.9m/s) to win the conference title. The mark doesn’t top the official all-time top-10 as marks with a tailwind greater than 2.0m/s are considered “illegal” for record purposes, but she did manage to get another leap of 14.19m (46-6¾) with allowable wind for the sixth-farthest jump in collegiate history.

Brown similarly battled the wind in Tuscaloosa. She ran a windy 22.19w (+2.6m/s) in the 200-meter prelims, but came back in the final – running into a 1.3m/s headwind – with a scorching 22.26 to move to No. 10 on the all-time collegiate performers list.

Little reclaimed the top spot on the 400-meter hurdles collegiate leaderboard with a season’s best 54.72 to take the conference crown.

Williams may not have contested her signature heptathlon event, but she still posted a runner-up finish in the open 100-meter hurdles final at 13.00. She ran a season’s best 12.96 in the prelims to qualify.

Meanwhile, in the Big 12 it was good news and bad news for Jones, who also did not contest the heptathlon this weekend. The good: she moved just one centimeter off the collegiate long jump lead at 6.75m (22-1¾) to win the conference title. The bad: she injured her ankle during the competition and had to sit out the final day of the championships.

Jones is currently the collegiate leader in both the heptathlon and the high jump, is No. 2 in the long jump, and is No. 9 among collegians in the 100-meter hurdles.

Okolo, running her signature 400-meter event for the first time since setting the collegiate record last month, turned in a strong weekend with a quarter-mile conference crown in 50.76.

Price didn’t add to her haul of 15 hammer throw marks of 230 feet or farther – equal to all the 230-foot marks in the USTFCCCA archives belonging to individuals not named DeAnna Price – but she won MVC titles both in the hammer and the shot put.

Rogers took the Pac-12 title in her signature 800-meter event while Ofili won the Big Ten crown in her signature 100-meter hurdles competition.

Also receiving votes this week were Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Kentucky, Arkansas’ Taylor Ellis-Watson and Lexi Weeks, and New Mexico’s Courtney Frerichs.

One final Watch List will be announced June 6 ahead of the NCAA Championships, with 10 Semifinalists for the award named on June 15.

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, 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) and 2015 World Champion high jumper Derek Drouin (2013).

In total, the winners from the award’s first five years have won four Olympic Medals, 10 World Championships (indoors and outdoors) and 19 World Championships medals. When considering finalists for the award, 18 individuals have earned a combined eight Olympic medals, 19 World Championship titles (indoors and outdoors) and 38 World Championships medals.

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.

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