Three True Freshmen Headline Youngest-Ever The Bowerman Men’s Semifinalist Class
NEW ORLEANS – After watching the Men’s Semifinalists for The Bowerman Trophy – announced Monday by The Bowerman Advisory Board – in action at the recent NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., one would never guess that this year’s crop of 10 men were the youngest in the award’s history.
And yet, with three true first-year collegians, a sophomore and five juniors — and just one senior — that’s precisely what they are.
From this youthful group, three finalists will be announced on July 9 before voting – including an online fan vote – opens July 28. The winner of collegiate track & field’s highest individual honor will be announced December 17 at the annual U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Convention.
The Bowerman Men’s Semifinalists
(Click student-athletes’ names for biographies & notes)
Not only is returning 2013 Finalist Arizona’s Lawi Lalang the lone senior among the 10 Semifinalists, he is also the lone returning Semifinalist from a year ago.
His meet-record win at 5000 meters in 13:18.36 in the fastest race in NCAA Championships history and a runner-up showing at 1500 meters the next day by mere hundredths of a second capped a sensational senior season and career that left his name peppered throughout the collegiate record books.
While Lalang took his final bows in Eugene this year, a trio of first-year collegians in Oregon’s Edward Cheserek and Devon Allen, and Baylor’s Trayvon Bromell all turned in phenomenal first-act performances.
Prior to this year only two true freshmen – Johannes Hock of Texas last year and Alabama’s Kirani James in 2010 – had ever been included among their respective years’ 10 Semifinalists, but that number nearly tripled with the 2014 freshmen.
Cheserek claimed the 10,000 meters title on the opening night of competition with a signature devastating kick midway through the final lap, splitting 24-plus seconds over his final 200 meters. The title was his third national track crown of the season, dating back to indoor 3000 and 5000 meters wins.
He called again on that speed two nights later in the 5000 meters final against Lalang, when he finished runner-up to his Wildcat rival in 13:18.71 by less than a step at the line to become the fastest-ever freshman in collegiate history.
He was already the fastest first-year collegian ever at 1500 meters from his runner-up Pac-12 Championships performance earlier in the spring.
His teammate Allen became not only the fastest frosh in 110-meter hurdles history, but the fastest man in NCAA Championships history and the second-fastest collegiate man ever with his win in 13.16 over the No. 3 and 4 all-time collegiate performers in Southern California’s Aleec Harris and defending national champion Wayne Davis II of Texas A&M.
This marks the second time Oregon has put a pair of teammates into Semifinalist consideration since Semifinalists were first selected in 2010: winner Ashton Eaton and finalist Andrew Wheating both made the cut in 2010.
Bromell, meanwhile, in winning his 100 meters title did something that not only has no other freshman or sophomore in collegiate history done, but no one in the world under the age of 20 has done: break 10 seconds at 100 meters.
His 9.97 win broke the World Junior Record of 10.01 of which he had previously held a share, and moved him up to the No. 8 position on the all-time collegiate list. A wind-aided 9.92 in the semifinals made him the fifth-fastest man in meet history under all conditions.
The lone sophomore among the 10 Semifinalists, Mississippi State’s Brandon McBride completed the sweep of the indoor and outdoor 800 meters national titles with a 1:46.26 win to become the first Semifinalist of either gender for the Bulldogs.
He is also the lone Canadian on the list, with each of the past two The Bowerman Trophies having been awarded to student-athletes hailing from our neighbors to the north: Derek Drouin of Indiana last year and Cam Levins of Southern Utah in 2012.
Juniors were the most plentiful of all the men’s Semifinalists with five men in their third year of collegiate eligibility.
Lendore completed the sweep of the indoor and outdoor 400 meters titles with a win in 45.02, while also anchoring the Aggies’ 4×400 relay to within a hundredth of a second of the collegiate record with a 44.11 split. He also ran anchor on Texas A&M’s runner-up 4×100 relay.
Dukes turned in a similar showing with an individual title, a relay title and a runner-up relay finish. He ran the fourth-fastest all-conditions time at 200 meters in 19.91w (+2.1m/s) to claim the title, and rallied the Gators in the final meters to a come-from-behind victory in the 4×100 relay. He also split 44.59 on the third leg of Florida’s runner-up 4×400 relay.
Dukes’ teammate Dendy became the first man since 2002 to sweep the long jump and triple jump titles at the same outdoor championships with a winning triple jump mark of 55-11¼w (17.05m, +3.1m/s) and a victorious long jump measurement of 26-3 (8.00m).
Dukes and Dendy are the third pair of Florida teammates to have both been named Semifinalists for The Bowerman. Jeff Demps and Christian Taylor both made the list of 10 in 2010, while Taylor and Will Claye were selected in 2011. They, along with the Oregon duo of Cheserek and Allen, are the sixth and seventh set of teammates on the men’s side to have been selected as Semifinalists.
Florida has had more men’s Semifinalists than any other school with seven. Oregon is next with four.
Rotich became the first man in Division I history to win both the indoor mile national title and the 3000-meter steeplechase crown outdoors in the same season. He successfully defended his steeplechase title from a year ago following a tight battle with Arkansas’ Stanley Kebenei in 8:32.21. He is the first man from Conference USA to have been named a Semifinalist.
Crouser likewise defended his shot put national title with a winning mark of 69-3½ (21.12m), moving up to No. 13 on the all-time NCAA Championships performers list. The win concluded a season in which he was undefeated in the shot put both indoors and outdoors, including an indoor national title and the first throw farther than 70 feet by a collegians since 2010.
ABOUT THE BOWERMAN
The Bowerman Trophy, which was first awarded in 2009, is presented annually by the USTFCCCA to the most outstanding male and female collegiate track & field athletes in the nation.
Indiana’s Derek Drouin and Clemson’s Brianna Rollins are the reigning winners of The Bowerman, which is named for legendary Oregon track & field and cross country coach Bill Bowerman. In addition to their collegiate achievements, Rollins is the reigning World Champion in the 100 meter hurdles — an event for which she also holds the American Record — while Drouin has won bronze medals at both the 2012 Olympics and 2013 IAAF World Championships.
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); and 2011 IAAF World Champion at 1500 meters, Jenny Simpson (2009).
In total, the winners from the award’s first four years have won three Olympic Medals, six World Championships (one relay, two indoor) and 11 World Championships medals (two relay, one indoor). When considering finalists for the award, 13 individuals have earned a combined six Olympic medals, eight World Championships (one relay, four indoor) and 23 World Championships medals (three realy, six indoor).
Former winners of and finalists for The Bowerman currently hold 21 national records. Each former winner of the men’s Bowerman Trophy holds at least two national records, while two of the five women’s winners are current national record-holders.
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 8,000 coaching members encompassing 94 percent of all NCAA track & field programs (DI, DII, and DIII) and includes members representing the NAIA 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.