Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Here's who I picked for The Bowerman, and why...

SAN ANTONIO--It is an honor to make the trip from Seattle to San Antonio to attend the presentation of The Bowerman, the award given to the outstanding collegiate male and female athlete of 2011.

As many of you regular readers know, I was selected again by the folks from the USTFCCCA as a voting member for the second year in a row. I do take this very seriously, and try not to have fan popularity sway my decision making.

I did skip the 2011 NCAA outdoor championships, so I was not able to see in person pole vaulter Tina Šutej of Arkansas, who went undefeated in every meet competed in except for the NCAA outdoor championships in Des Moines.

MEN

Florida State's Ngoni Makusha (left/photo by Paul Merca) got my first place vote, based on the strength of his 100 and long jump double victory, running 9.89 for a national record for Zimbabwe and a collegiate record, as well as jumping 27-6 3/4 (8.40m), also a national record.

As much as I wanted to give Washington State's Jeshua Anderson my first place vote for winning his third NCAA title in the 400 hurdles, Makusha's double was too much to overcome, so he got my second place vote.

Christian Taylor of Florida's windy 58-4 3/4 (17.80m), which was the #1 collegiate performance of all time under any conditions was only good enough to get third.

Having said that, had the deadline for the ballots been AFTER the world championships, I would have gone Taylor-Makusha-Anderson, as Taylor ended up winning in Daegu.

WOMEN

Jessica Beard of Texas A&M was by far the most dominant collegiate track & field athlete this season, winning individual titles in the 400 indoors and outdoors, along with being on the Aggies' 4 x 4 relay squads that won national titles.

LSU's Kimberlyn Duncan just as easily got my second place vote, based on winning the NCAA titles at 200 meters both indoors and outdoors, as well as being the high point scorer in the outdoor championships.

Folks in the pole vault community are going to be irate with me, but you know what? That's fine.

As much as Tina Šutej went undefeated for almost the entire season, and despite setting a collegiate record in the pole vault of 15-1 1/2 (4.61m), and tying the NCAA championship meet record of 14-7 1/4 (4.45m), there is one minor problem--she didn't win the NCAA outdoor title.

The common denominator with the other five finalists: all of them have a NCAA outdoor title in their pocket. In my book, a NCAA outdoor title should be a prerequisite for being in the final three.

As the great American philosopher Charlie Sheen noted, "Winning!" matters, not how many records you break. Šutej's season is similar to what the New England Patriots did a few years ago, going undefeated, but losing the Super Bowl to the New York Giants, or in her case, Melissa Gergel of Oregon.

I'm in agreement with several folks who cover college track & field and who probably know more than me who believe that Villanova's Sheila Reid, the winner of both the 1500 and the 5000 in Des Moines, should have been a finalist for this award.

I'm not on the Bowerman panel that picked the six finalists, but I have to believe that the only reason Sutej is a finalist is that they have to have a field event athlete in there, and she was the most dominant female field event athlete last season.

The results of the fan poll that was conducted by the USTFCCCA is available here.

Media partner Flotrack will cover the Bowerman awards ceremony and, for the first time, an hour-long preview show beforehand. Coverage begins at 4 p.m. PT, with the "Flotrack Red Carpet Show at The Bowerman" hosted by Ryan Fenton and Alex Lohr featuring a behind-the-scenes look at the USTFCCCA Convention and the ceremony.

Finalists were chosen by the ten-person Bowerman Advisory Board based on performances recorded during the indoor and outdoor 2011 track & field seasons. Only performances through the conclusion of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships are used in consideration. Voting for the The Bowerman includes members of the Advisory Board, media personnel, statisticians, collegiate administrators, along with past winners and online voting by fans and USTFCCCA members.

Following the presentation of The Bowerman, the USTFCCCA will induct six coaches into its Hall of Fame, including legendary Seattle Pacific mentor Dr. Ken Foreman.  Flotrack will also webcast the Hall of Fame ceremony.

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