SAN ANTONIO, Texas—I am back in San Antonio to attend the presentation of The Bowerman, given to the country’s most outstanding male and female collegiate track and field athletes of the 2015 season.
For the past several years, it’s been an honor and a privilege to be one of the national voting members of this award. As I’ve stated, I do take this vote seriously, and I try not to have any regional biases or fan popularity sway my decision making.
All voting members of The Bowerman received their ballots in July, and had until August 11th to submit their ballots to the USTFCCCA, the organization that sponsors the event. The most important caveat in voting is that performances made after the NCAA championships in Eugene, including meets such as the USA outdoors, Diamond League meets, the various foreign national championships, and even the IAAF world championships were not considered when making the vote.
I saw all six Bowerman Award finalists compete in person at least once, namely at the NCAA championships, though I did see Edward Cheserek of Oregon compete at the Pac-12 championships at UCLA, and Jenna Prandini of Oregon at the UW Preview.
The men’s vote was a slam dunk—I went with Akron’s Shawn Barber (left/photo by Paul Merca) over Florida long/triple jumper Marquis Dendy and Oregon distance runner Edward Cheserek.
Barber won both the indoor and outdoor NCAA titles in dominating fashion, setting a collegiate record of 19-4.75 (5.91m), and broke his own collegiate indoor record four times. He cleared 19 feet (5.80m) more times last season indoors than all other collegians in history combined.
Despite having a bit of a scare early in the competition, Barber pulled through to win the national outdoor title. After the NCAAs, the highlight for the Canadian was winning the world championship in Beijing, clearing 19-4.25 (5.90m).
I struggled with this, flip-flopping between Oregon’s Jenna Prandini (below/photo by Paul Merca) and Stephen F. Austin pole vaulter Demi Payne, though an argument could be made for Kentucky hurdler Kendra Harrison.
The question was whether Payne setting a collegiate record indoor and winning the outdoor title in the pole vault would trump the performance of Prandini, who carried the Ducks on her back.
Prandini’s 49 total points scored in both the indoor and outdoor championships, highlighted by wins in the long jump indoors and the 100m outdoors was just enough to trump Payne’s 13 wins and NCAA outdoor meet record in the pole vault.
An argument could have been made to give Kendra Harrison the second place vote over Payne, as she won both the indoor 60 and outdoor 100 meter hurdle titles, while Payne only won the NCAA outdoor title, losing the indoor crown to Arkansas’ Sandi Morris in an epic battle.
All six Bowerman Award finalists with the exception of Cheserek competed this summer at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, with Barber winning and Prandini earning a relay medal.
The Bowerman Award ceremony will be live streamed on the USTFCCCA web site beginning at 4:20 pm pacific (6:20 pm central) Thursday night, hosted by 2010 Bowerman winner Queen Harrison and Flotrack’s Ryan Fenton, with ESPN’s John Anderson the MC of the ceremony.
The Bowerman Voters consist of national and regional media personnel, track & field statisticians, NCAA collegiate administrators, past winners, and Presidents of affiliated organizations. The Bowerman Voters represent 23 U.S. states and one U.S. territory.
In addition, USTFCCCA members collectively receive one (1) vote in The Bowerman voting. Fans also collectively receive one (1) vote in The Bowerman voting.