ORLANDO, Florida—Jarrion Lawson of Arkansas and Courtney Okolo of Texas were named by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Friday night as the recipients of the Bowerman Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate male and female track & field athletes of the 2016 season.
"It was like a relief feeling," Lawson said of hearing his name. "Actually, I was more nervous for the women’s Bowerman than the men’s Bowerman. I don’t know why. That initial anticpiation of you don’t know who the winner is and the men are second."
Lawson joins a prestigious fraternity of former male winners, headlined by two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time world record holder Ashton Eaton (2010). Galen Rupp (2009) and Derek Drouin (2013) also won two Olympic medals, while Deon Lendore (2014) captured bronze at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Okolo is the 8th women’s winner of The Bowerman Award and joins an elite sorority that includes the like of 2016 Olympic gold medalist Brianna Rollins (2013) and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Jenny Simpson (2009) thanks to a spectacular senior year.
"It means a lot," Okolo said of winning. "I hope that this can carry the weight that the Heisman does. It’s very important for us athletes to have something to honor us. I’m really blessed that they honored me with this award. When you look at the wall and see the Olympians, gold medalists and world record holders, you know this award it’s not just some small award: It’s a big deal. People who wins this award are the best ever."
The other men’s finalists were Donovan Brazier of Texas A&M and Edward Cheserek of Oregon, while the other women’s finalists were Keturah Orji of Georgia, and Raven Saunders of Mississippi.
The Bowerman Voters consist of national and regional media personnel, track & field statisticians, NCAA collegiate administrators, past winners, and presidents of affiliated organizations. USTFCCCA members collectively receive one (1) vote, and fans collectively received one (1) vote.
NOTE: The USTFCCCA contributed to this report. Paul Merca of paulmerca.blogspot.com is one of the national media voters of The Bowerman. Photos of Lawson (above) and Okolo (below) by Mike Scott.