Ten men and 10 women have all made it to one of the final stages for the premier individual award in track and field as 2023 Bowerman semifinalists. All 20 athletes have had fantastic indoor and outdoor seasons, but only three men and three women can be named finalists for the Bowerman. For clarity, I do not have a vote for the Bowerman, but I give my cases for the top three finalists below.
Who should be the men's finalists?
The Obvious finalists
Only two men on the pre-championships Bowerman watch lists won an outdoor individual title: Arkansas' Jaydon Hibbert and Arizona's Jordan Geist. Hibbert is only a freshman but will likely become the fourth man to be named a Bowerman finalist in his first year, joining Oregon's Edward Cheserek (2014), Texas A&M's Donavan Brazier (2016), and LSU's Mondo Duplantis (2019). Hibbert went undefeated in the triple jump this year en route to USTFCCCA National Field Athlete of the Year honors, setting collegiate records in the indoor and outdoor triple jumps.
Geist swept the indoor and outdoor shot put titles. He also finished third in the hammer outdoors.
The final finalist spot
I think disappointing finishes at outdoor championships from Cal's Mykolas Alekna and Princeton's Sondre Guttormsen leave the field event stars on the outside looking in when it comes to the 2023 Bowerman, despite their success before the meet.
On the track, BYU's Kenneth Rooks burst onto the scene late as a Bowerman contender, but he didn't make an individual indoor event final for an award that recognizes indoor and outdoor season success. Similarly, Texas Tech's Courtney Lindsey won the 100 meters after running 9.89 seconds and finished second in the 200 meters at outdoor championships, but only finished 10th in the indoor 200 meters. Both finished the season strong, but I don't think that's enough to get them into finalist territory.
As a result, there are four candidates for the final finalist spot in my opinion. They are:
- Carey McLeod, Arkansas
- Ky Robinson, Stanford
- Kyle Garland, Georgia
- Leo Neugebauer, Texas
Here's why each of those four could be considered.
Carey McLeod swept the indoor and outdoor long jump titles. Hibbert and Geist are the only other athletes with titles in both seasons. He also competed in the triple jump this year, finishing sixth indoors and 11th outdoors. He scored 13 points during Arkansas' indoor championship win.
Ky Robinson won the 5000 meters and 10,000 meters at outdoor championships. Robinson scored 20 points at outdoor championships to lead Stanford to a third-place finish and was named the USTFCCCA National Track Athlete of the Year. He's the first DI athlete to pull off the distance-double since Edward Cheserek did so in 2016. During the indoor season, Robinson finished seventh in the 5K.
Kyle Garland and Leo Neugebauer won the indoor and outdoor combined event titles, respectively. Garland set the collegiate record in the heptathlon, while Neugebauer set the collegiate record in the decathlon. Who should be in the lead for the Bowerman between these two?
I'd have to go with Garland, who's made every Bowerman watch list this year, over Neugebauer, who's making his first appearance on a Bowerman list this year. Garland put together the third and fourth-best all-time decathlon performance during the outdoor season, while Neugebauer has just one top-10 performance (No. 9) in the heptathlon during the indoor season. It's close, but Garland gets the edge here.
That leaves us with McLeod, Robinson and Garland for the final spot. Garland's lack of an outdoor title stands out among the trio, and he'll probably split votes among the Bowerman committee with Neugebauer. He's out.
So who should get the final spot between McLeod and Robinson?
My pick is Robinson because I think what he did was more "outstanding," a term describing the annual winner of the Bowerman. Robinson's distance-double was last seen seven years ago, while McLeod's long jump sweep was accomplished last year by his current teammate Wayne Pinnock. Throw in the historical significance of Cheserek as a 2016 Bowerman finalist, and you'll find a precedent set for Robinson to be a finalist in 2023.
After all that, your Bowerman men's finalists should be Jaydon Hibbert, Jordan Geist and Ky Robinson.
Who should be the women's finalists?
The Obvious finalists
Texas' Julien Alfred and Florida's Jasmine Moore are the obvious front-runners for the 2023 Bowerman women's trophy. Alfred dominated all year long en route to USTFCCCA National Track Athlete of the Year honors, sweeping the sprint individual titles (60m, 100m, indoor 200m, outdoor 200m) and also running on the winning 4x100 meter relay team. Alfred set numerous collegiate records in the relays and the 60 and 200 meters indoors. Alfred's wins during the outdoor season helped lead Texas to the team title.
Meanwhile, Moore dominated the horizontal jumps all season. Moore swept the indoor-outdoor triple jump titles and won the indoor long jump. She also set collegiate records in the triple jump during the indoor and outdoor seasons and in the long jump indoors en route to USTFCCCA National Field Athlete of the Year honors.
The final finalist spot
There's a clear gap between the women's Bowerman semifinalists among the rest of the field. After Alfred and Moore, one can look for collegiate records and indoor/outdoor titles to distinguish the rest of the field.
So semifinalists who just missed the cut and are most likely on the outside looking in for the Bowerman include Texas' Rhasidat Adeleke and Ackelia Smith, LSU's Michaela Rose, and Kentucky's Masai Russell. While Adeleke, Smith and Rose all won outdoor titles, they didn't win any indoor titles nor set a collegiate record. Russell set a collegiate record during the indoor and outdoor seasons (the indoor record later fell), but she doesn't have an individual title to show for it.
That leaves Arkansas' Ackera Nugent and Britton Wilson, Oregon's Jorinde Van Klinken and NC State's Katelyn Tuohy as four women in contention for that final spot. Here's a breakdown of their achievements this year:
|Jorinde Van Klinken||1||0||1||N/A|
As you can see, an argument for any of the four as finalists can be made. I think that even after failing to win an outdoor title, Britton Wilson should be the final finalist for the award.
Wilson gets the nod over her teammate Nugent because she set more collegiate records throughout the year, and Wilson's performance as the anchor leg on the indoor-title-clinching 4x400 meter relay adds to her "outstanding resume."
Wilson gets the nod over Van Klinken because even without an outdoor title to close the season, Wilson's performance during the indoor season was more dominant than Van Klinken's indoor performance.
Lastly, Wilson gets the nod over Tuohy because while neither athlete lived up to lofty doubling expectations at outdoor championships, Wilson gave a glimpse of what could've been with her performance in the semifinals. Wilson ran 54.67 in the 400 hurdles and 49.36 in the 400 flat during the championship semifinals, finishing seventh and second, respectively. In a battle for choosing a finalist that is like picking a needle out of a haystack, that semifinal performance gives Wilson the edge.
After all that, your Bowerman women's finalists should be Julien Alfred, Jasmine Moore and Britton Wilson.
- Bowerman men's finalists
- Jaydon Hibbert
- Jordan Geist
- Ky Robinson
- Bowerman women's finalists
- Julien Alfred
- Jasmine Moore
- Britton Wilson