Women’s Finalists Announced For 2016 The Bowerman Award

NEW ORLEANS — Thousands became ten.

Those ten are now three.

The Bowerman Advisory Board named the three women’s finalists for The Bowerman Award on Thursday afternoon following the conclusion of the collegiate track & field season. They are, in alphabetical order: Texas senior Courtney Okolo, Georgia sophomore Keturah Orji and Mississippi sophomore Raven Saunders.

 

This is the second finalist appearance in three years for Okolo, while Orji and Saunders aren’t only both first-time finalists for collegiate track & field’s highest individual honor — but the first-ever finalists for their respective institutions.

During the 2016 cycle, few women were as dominant on the track as Okolo. The native of Carrollton, Texas turned in a senior year to remember as she captured two individual 400-meter titles and anchored a pair of championship 4×400 teams.

Indoors, Okolo went 3-0 in 400-meter finals against fellow collegians. That included a near one-second victory at NCAAs to go along with the Longhorns’ cakewalk in the 4×4. Speaking of 4x4s, Okolo also chipped in on Team USA’s victory at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon the week after the NCAA meet.

Outdoors, Okolo reached a level never before touched by a female collegian. At the LSU Alumni Gold Invitational, Okolo lowered her collegiate record to 49.71 and became the first female collegian to go sub-50 seconds in the 400.

Less than two months later, Okolo completed the sweep of the 400-meter titles with a strong run at Hayward Field (10th fastest time in collegiate history – 50.36) and authored an incredible come-from-behind victory in the 4×400 in which she reeled in a pair of competitors despite trailing by two seconds when she got the baton.

Orji proved there is no such thing as a sophomore slump as she showed why Georgia might be considered her gender’s “Jump U.”

During the indoor and outdoor seasons, Orji went 8-0 against fellow collegians in finals and swept the triple jump titles clean. She also added a fourth-place finish at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in the discipline.

Titles were one thing for Orji, but leaving her mark on the record book was another.

Indoors, Orji landed at No. 6, No. 7 and No. 8 on the all-time performances list and is now the fifth best performer with her leap of 14.14m (46-4¾).

Outdoors, Orji broke the collegiate record at the NCAA East Prelims (14.29m or 46-10¾) and then one-upped herself at NCAAs in Eugene, Oregon when she flew 14.53m (47-8) to establish a new American record.

And in a super-deep field of throwers from which to pick a finalist, Saunders stood out the most — and for good reason.

During the indoor season, the competition had to wait for Saunders to slip up — which she only did once — in order to have a chance to beat her. Saunders went 7-1 in finals during the indoor season (12th place finish at NCAAs), recorded the 12 best throws among all collegians and broke the collegiate record by one centimeter (19.23m or 63-1¼) at the Iowa State Classic in mid-February.

Outdoors, Saunders put her struggles in Birmingham, Alabama in her rearview mirror and dominated the circle. Saunders went 8-0 in finals and saved her best for last at NCAAs when she smashed Meg Ritchie’s 33-year-old collegiate record with a heave of 19.33m (63-5) in Eugene, Oregon.

If Okolo wins The Bowerman Award, it will be the first time since 2011 that it went to an athlete from the Big 12 (Jessica Beard, Texas A&M). If Orji or Saunders win, it would mark the SEC’s second female winner of collegiate track & field’s version of The Heisman Trophy (Kimberlyn Duncan, LSU).

Finalists were chosen by The Bowerman Advisory Board, an 11-person panel of track & field experts from around the country, based on performances recorded during the 2015-16 indoor and outdoor track & field seasons. Only performances through the conclusion of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships are eligible for consideration.

The Bowerman Award will be handed out in December during the annual USTFCCCA Convention. This year’s gathering will take place in Orlando, Florida at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Resort and Spa.

WINNER SELECTION PROCESS

The Bowerman Voters will receive ballots listing each of the finalists and must rank them by first, second and third choice. First-place votes will receive three points, second place will notch two, and third will receive one point. The finalist with the highest point total will be declared the winner.

The Bowerman Voters consist of:

  • The Bowerman Advisory Board (11 members)
  • Select media personnel, statisticians, and collegiate administrators
  • Galen Rupp, 2009 men’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Ashton Eaton, 2010 men’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Ngoni Makusha, 2011 men’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Cam Levins, 2012 men’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Derek Drouin, 2013 men’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Deon Lendore, 2014 men’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Marquis Dendy, 2015 men’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Jenny (Barringer) Simpson, 2009 women’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Queen Harrison, 2010 women’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Jessica Beard, 2011 women’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Kimberlyn Duncan, 2012 women’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Brianna Rollins, 2013 women’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Laura Roesler, 2014 women’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Jenna Prandini, 2015 women’s winner of The Bowerman
  • Online voting by the public will constitute one collective vote (ranking of choices will be made by order of total single votes)
  • Online voting by USTFCCCA members will constitute one collective vote (ranking of choices will be made by order of total single votes)

THE BOWERMAN PAST FINALISTS & AWARD HISTORY

MEN

2009
Winner: Galen Rupp, Oregon
Finalist: Ashton Eaton, Oregon
Finalist: German Fernandez, Oklahoma State

2010
Winner: Ashton Eaton, Oregon
Finalist: Andrew Wheating, Oregon
Finalist: Ryan Whiting, Arizona State

2011
Winner: Ngoni Makusha, Florida State
Finalist: Jeshua Anderson, Washington State
Finalist: Christian Taylor, Florida

2012
Winner: Cam Levins, Southern Utah
Finalist: Tony McQuay, Florida
Finalist: Andrew Riley, Illinois

2013
Winner: Derek Drouin, Indiana
Finalist: Lawi Lalang, Arizona
Finalist: Julian Wruck, UCLA

2014
Winner: Deon Lendore, Texas A&M
Finalist: Edward Cheserek, Oregon
Finalist: Lawi Lalang, Arizona

2015
Winner: Marquis Dendy, Florida
Finalist: Shawn Barber, Akron
Finalist: Edward Cheserek, Oregon

WOMEN

2009
Winner: Jenny Barringer, Colorado
Finalist: Destinee Hooker, Texas
Finalist: Porscha Lucas, Texas A&M

2010
Winner: Queen Harrison, Virginia Tech
Finalist: Lisa Koll, Iowa State
Finalist: Blessing Okagbare, UTEP

2011
Winner: Jessica Beard, Texas A&M
Finalist: Kimberlyn Duncan, LSU
Finalist: Tina Sutej, Arkansas

2012
Winner: Kimberlyn Duncan, LSU
Finalist: Brigetta Barrett, Arizona
Finalist: Brianne Theisen, Oregon

2013
Winner: Brianna Rollins, Clemson
Finalist: Brigetta Barrett, Arizona
Finalist: Kori Carter, Stanford

2014
Winner: Laura Roesler, Oregon
Finalist: Sharika Nelvis, Arkansas State

Finalist: Courtney Okolo, Texas

2015
Winner: Jenna Prandini, Oregon
Finalist: Kendra Harrison, Kentucky
Finalist: Demi Payne, Stephen F. Austin

Combined Genders
Multiple Finalists by School (2009-2016)

Does not include men’s finalists from 2016

Oregon (9): Ashton Eaton (2)*, Galen Rupp*, Laura Roesler*, Jenna Prandini*, Brianne Theisen, Andrew WheatingEdward Cheserek (2)
Arizona (4): 
Brigetta Barrett (2), Lawi Lalang (2)
Texas A&M (3): Jessica Beard*, Porscha Lucas, Deon Lendore*
Florida (3):
 Tony McQuay, Christian Taylor, Marquis Dendy*
Texas (3): Courtney Okolo (2), Destinee Hooker
LSU (2): Kimberlyn Duncan (2)*
* Previous Winner

All-Time Finalists by Conference
(using conference affiliation for seasons in question, change in affiliation is noted by finalists listed. Includes both men and women.)

Pac-12 (17):
Oregon – 9
Arizona – 4
Arizona State – 1
Stanford – 1
UCLA – 1
Washington State – 1

SEC (11):
Florida – 3
LSU – 2
Arkansas – 2
Texas A&M – 1
Kentucky – 1
Mississippi – 1
Georgia – 1

Big 12 (8):
Texas – 3
Texas A&M – 2 (Beard, 2011)
Colorado – 1 (Barringer, 2009)
Iowa State – 1
Oklahoma State – 1

ACC (3):
Clemson – 1
Florida State – 1
Virginia Tech – 1

Big Ten (2):
Illinois – 1
Indiana – 1

One Each:
Conference USA (UTEP), Summit League (Southern Utah), Sun Belt (Arkansas State), Mid-American (Akron), Southland (Stephen F. Austin)

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).

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 9,000 coaching members encompassing 94% of all NCAA track & field programs (DI, DII, and DIII) and includes members representing the NAIA, NJCAA 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.

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