The Bowerman: What’s At Stake In 2018

SAN ANTONIO – On Thursday night, we hand out The Bowerman to one man and one woman inside the Grand Oaks Ballroom at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa.

The men’s award in 2018 will either go to Rai Benjamin, Grant Holloway or Michael Norman. Benjamin and Norman are former standouts at Southern California, while Holloway is still holding it down at the University of Florida.

The women’s award will be in the hands of Maggie Ewen, Sydney McLaughlin or Keturah Orji. Ewen of Arizona State and Orji of Georgia were both finalists last year (Orji is actually the only three-time female finalist in the history of The Bowerman), while McLaughlin left her mark in her only season at Kentucky.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s at stake for The Bowerman this year.

The Bowerman Presentation will be carried LIVE on ESPN3 and the ESPN App beginning at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT). It will mark the first time in award history that the presentation will be aired LIVE on ESPN’s networks.

The Bowerman Just Means More

How long has it been since the SEC went home emptyhanded after The Bowerman Presentation?

Try five years ago.

Back in 2013, Clemson’s Brianna Rollins and Indiana’s Derek Drouin were the winners of The Bowerman. That gave the ACC its third of three awards in conference history and the Big Ten its only triumph.

Since then, the SEC has won The Bowerman four consecutive times – all on the men’s side. Texas A&M’s Deon Lendore started the trend in 2014, Florida’s Marquis Dendy made it back-to-back years in 2015, then Arkansas’ Jarrion Lawson pushed it to three in a row and Tennessee’s Christian Coleman was the most recent to do it last year.

There is a 33.3 percent chance the men’s trend continues in 2018 as the SEC has one of three finalists (Holloway). That flips to a 66.7% chance that a female athlete from the SEC brings home The Bowerman for the first time since 2012 (Kimberlyn Duncan, LSU) as there are two finalists from the powerhouse league (McLaughlin and Orji).

Texas Two-Step

Never before in the history of The Bowerman has a conference swept the proceedings.

That’s rather remarkable with the caliber of athletes that the Pac-12 and SEC has sent to The Bowerman stage over the years.

There were two strong chances it could have happened: 2013 and 2016. Both of those years featured multiple finalists per gender from the same conference. Back in 2013, it was the Pac-12 that had the majority with Lawi Lalang (Arizona) and Julian Wruck (UCLA) on the men’s side, while Brigetta Barrett (Arizona) and Kori Carter (Stanford) held it down on the women’s side. Three years later, the SEC tipped the scales with eventual winner Jarrion Lawson (Arkansas) and Donavan Brazier (Texas A&M) on the men’s side and Keturah Orji (Georgia) and Raven Saunders (Ole Miss) among the women’s final three.

Could we see history Thursday night?

Odds aren’t in any conference’s favor, but crazier things have happened under the bright lights of The Bowerman Presentation.

All Knotted Up

Speaking of the Pac-12 and the SEC, those two conferences are tied with the most past winners in The Bowerman history with five apiece.

The Pac-12 started things off with back-to-back men’s winners in 2009 and 2010 with Galen Rupp and Ashton Eaton, respectively. Then the conference reeled off three women’s winners in the past four years in the guises of Laura Roesler, Jenna Prandini and Raevyn Rogers. Come to think of it, all five of those winners came from the same university: Oregon.

The SEC didn’t win The Bowerman until Kimberlyn Duncan of LSU in 2012, but has been on quite the run since. Tennessee’s Christian Coleman made it four years in a row that the SEC won the men’s award in 2017.

Will one conference pull ahead after the 2018 ceremony?

Be sure to tune in at 8 pm ET on Thursday night to find out!

The Bowerman Presentation Archive