The Bowerman: 2019 Women’s Preseason Watch List

NEW ORLEANS – Who will succeed Georgia’s Keturah Orji in picking up The Bowerman in 2019?

The winner of collegiate track & field’s highest honor will not be named until mid-December at the next USTFCCCA Convention but with the start of the indoor season taking place across the country a slew of talented women were selected for The Bowerman 2019 Women’s Preseason Watch List which was released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Monday.

The list features 10 of the best women’s track & field athletes competing in the NCAA this year while those athletes either receiving votes or just on the outside of the list will be gunning for a spot on it by season’s end.

The Bowerman Watch List: 2019 Women’s Preseason Update

(Click student-athletes’ names for their TFRRS page)

Jazmine Fray SR Texas A&M Mid-Distance Long Island City, N.Y.
Olivia Gruver SR Washington Pole Vault Reisterstown, Md.
Jessica Hull SR Oregon Distance Albion Park, Australia
Lynna Irby SO Georgia Sprints Indianapolis, Ind.
Lexi Jacobus SR Arkansas Pole Vault Cabot, Ark.
Dani Jones SR Colorado Distance Phoenix, Ariz.
Ednah Kurgat JR New Mexico Distance Eldoret, Kenya
Mackenzie Little SR Stanford Javelin Roseville, Australia
Allie Ostrander RS JR Boise State Distance Kenai, Alaska
Sammy Watson SO Texas A&M Mid-Distance Rochester, N.Y.
Also Receiving Votes: Mady Fagan (Georgia), Erin Finn (Michigan), Nina Schultz (Kansas State), Nataliah Whyte (Florida Atlantic)
NEXT: February 6

The Preseason Watch List is heavy on the veteran side with eight of the ten athletes being upperclassmen. Those athletes are also quite accomplished, as they combined for seven NCAA titles last year.

Oliva Gruver, Jessica Hull, Lynna Irby, Lexi Jacobus, Mackenzie Little, Allie Ostrander and Sammy Watson are all coming off of national championships winning performances in 2018.

Gruver repeated as champion in the outdoor pole vault and placed third indoors. Jacobus captured the indoor national title in the pole vault and also placed second in the same event at outdoors. Ostrander won the steeplechase title for the second time in her career and placed second overall in the indoor 3000 at NCAAs.

Jazmine Fray and Ednah Kurgat both own all-time collegiate marks. Fray, who was a finalist in the outdoor 800 last year, owns the collegiate indoor record in the event at 2:00.69. Kurgat kicked off her 2019 season in a big way back in December at the Sharon Colyear-Danville Season Opener hosted by Boston University when she clocked the third fastest time in collegiate indoor history in the 5000 of 15:14.87.

Just two underclassmen made the list: Lynna Irby and Sammy Watson. Irby was a semifinalist for The Bowerman last season after she won an NCAA title in the outdoor 400 with the second fastest time in collegiate history (49.80) and placed third in the 200. Irby, who also placed third in both events at the indoor meet, was going for a historic outdoor double. Watson also won a national title, picking up hers in the 800 at outdoors to go with a third-place performance at in the finals at indoors.

The three athletes making their Watch List debut are Jessica Hull, Dani Jones and Mackenzie Little. Hull and Jones are both mid-distance/distance runners coming off career-best seasons. Hull captured an NCAA title in the 1500, while Jones finished second in the mile indoors. Little took home the national title in the javelin throw with a best toss of 60.36m (198-0), which made her the fifth best performer in collegiate history with the 10th best performance.

No finalists of The Bowerman from the 2018 season returned as both Orji and Arizona State’s Maggie Ewen graduated and Kentucky’s Sydney McLaughlin went pro. Two semifinalists from a year ago did make the list again in Irby and Gruver while eight of the ten semifinalists from last year either graduated and/or joined the professional ranks. 

The SEC and Pac-12 split the lead with each conference getting four athletes named to the Watch List. The Mountain West was the only other conference to make the list as it contributed two athletes.

Also receiving votes was Georgia senior Mady Fagan, Michigan senior Erin Finn, Kansas State junior Nina Schultz and Florida Atlantic junior Natalliah Whyte.

The next Watch List will be released by the USTFCCCA on February 6.

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