On Thursday, the "queen of the quartermile," the best female collegiate triple jumper ever, and the NCAA outdoor women's shot put champion were named finalists for the Bowerman Award, the top award for collegiate track and field athletes.
Quarter miler Courtney Okolo of Texas, triple jumper Keturah Orji of Georgia and shot putter Raven Saunders of Ole Miss were picked from 10 semifinalists to contend for the award, which will be presented in December. The men's finalists will be named Friday.
Women's Finalists: By The Numbers (1/2)
— The Bowerman (@thebowerman) June 23, 2016
Okolo was also a finalist for the award back in 2014. The Carrollton, Texas native won the 400 meter dash at both the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships, and anchored two championship 400m relay teams. In the NCAA indoor championship, Okolo was dominant, winning by nearly a second.
But her outdoor season was truly amazing – she became the first female collegiate runner to finish under 50 seconds in the 400 while breaking her own collegiate record and setting a new best time of 49.71.
She not only won the 400m outdoor title but led the Longhorns in a dramatic come-from-behind win in the 4×400, passing two opponents and winning her leg after trailing by two seconds when she got the baton.
— Texas T&F/XC (@UTexasTrack) June 23, 2016
Orji was 8-0 against other college triple jumpers and also secured the best ever performance in her discipline. She broke the collegiate record outdoors by jumping 14.53m (47-8), which was not only a collegiate record, but a new American record. Orji won the championship indoors as well.
Orji, from Mount Olive, N.J., already has been named the 2016 USTFCCCA National Outdoor Women's Field Athlete of the Year. She has the sixth, seventh and eighth-best indoor collegiate triple jumps in history and in outdoor competition, she holds the top, second, seventh and eighth-best collegiate jumps ever.
— Ole Miss Track&Field (@OleMissTrack) June 23, 2016
Saunders was the NCAA outdoor shot put champion, and set the collegiate record of 19.23m (63-1¼) this year. While she failed to win the indoor championship, the title meet was her only loss – and the 12 best indoor throws this year by a college shot putter were all put in by Saunders.
Outdoors, Saunders was 8-0 and toppled a 33-year-old collegiate record with a throw of 19.33m (63-5) in the finals.