ORLANDO--With one week to go before Christmas, many of the country's top collegiate and high school track & field coaches are gathered in Central Florida for the annual USTFCCCA convention, as the coaches' association gathers to interface with each other in a setting other than a 400 meter oval or a cross country course.
One of the highlights of the annual convention is the presentation of The Bowerman to the country's top collegiate track & field athlete of the year, as the USTFCCCA continues to add value to make the trophy presentation on a par to football's Heisman Trophy and basketball's Wooden Award.
Although I was not able to make the trip from Seattle to Orlando for this year's presentation, I was selected by the USTFCCCA as a voting member of college track & field's top honor for the third consecutive year.
I was not able to attend the 2012 NCAA indoor championships in Nampa, Idaho nor the outdoor championships in Des Moines; however, I did see five of the six finalists (Brigetta Barrett of Arizona, Kimberlyn Duncan of LSU, and Brianne Theisen of Oregon; Cam Levins of Southern Utah and Tony McQuay of Florida) compete in 2012, with Illinois' Andrew Riley the only one I didn't see run in person this season.
Here's who I voted for:
As much as I would've loved to give fellow car mate from Seville to Punta Umbria Cam Levins my vote, Florida's Tony McQuay (left/photo by Mike Scott) got my first place vote.
McQuay won both the NCAA indoor (45.77) and outdoor (44.58) titles, and anchored the Gators to the national crown in the 4 x 400 relay.
Though winning the NCAA 5000 (13:40.05) and 10000 (28:07.14) titles were big outdoors, I felt that Levins' efforts couldn't trump McQuay's.
Riley won both the 100 (10.28 into a headwind) and 110 hurdles (13.53 into a headwind) outdoors, becoming the first man to win both titles in the same championship meet.
Had the voting period for the women extended to the Olympics, I would have switched my first place vote easily.
However, since the voting period ends at the NCAA championships, I gave my first place vote to Oregon's Brianne Theisen (left/photo by Paul Merca)
Theisen won both the pentathlon (4536 points) indoors and the heptathlon (6440 points) at the NCAA championships, earning her fifth and sixth national titles in those events.
My second place vote went to Arizona's Brigetta Barrett, who won the NCAA indoor (6-5, 1.96m) and outdoor (6-4, 1.93m) high jump titles, winning 12 straight meets during the collegiate season.
Barrett finishing second at the US Olympic Trials and earned a silver medal at the Olympics, setting a personal best of 6-8 (2.03m) in London, accomplishments that I felt were strong enough to trump Theisen's 2012 efforts (she was 11th in London with a final score of 6383 points).
LSU's Kimberlyn Duncan won back-to-back national titles indoors and outdoors at 200 meters (22.74 indoors, and 22.86 into a headwind outdoors), and was a key component to the Tigers winning the national outdoor team title, before they had to vacate it last month due to a positive drug test by 4 x 100m relay team member Semoy Hackett.
Media partner Flotrack will stream The Bowerman presentation show from Orlando's JW Marriott Grande Lakes Hotel beginning at 4 pm, pacific time, preceded by a red carpet show starting at 3:30 pm pacific.
Finalists were chosen by the ten-person Bowerman Advisory Board based on performances recorded during the indoor and outdoor 2012 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.