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Stan Becton | | May 24, 2023

The cases for Bowerman women's candidates entering NCAA track and field preliminaries

Previewing the 2023 DI outdoor track and field championships

The sixth update of the Bowerman women's watch list is out after conference championships and the battle for this year’s trophy is as close as it has been yet. I broke down the top Bowerman women's candidates, analyzing which athletes have the best case for the award at this point of the season.

Of note: These rankings are my own and aren’t a reflection of the current or future Bowerman votes.

The top contenders

1. Britton Wilson | Arkansas

The Bowerman is given each year to the most outstanding athlete. Some synonyms to outstanding include exceptional, impressive and phenomenal to name a few. All of those words describe Britton Wilson’s performance at SEC championships this past weekend, and it’s why she gets the top spot in a narrow race.

At SEC championships she set the 400 meter collegiate record twice, while also running the fourth-fastest all-time 400 hurdles time to win two SEC titles. Wilson ran four races across three days that stole the show every time. It was outstanding, exceptional, impressive and phenomenal, and that performance gives her the slightest edge as the leader in the Bowerman clubhouse.

WATCH LIST: The 2023 Bowerman watch list for men's and women's NCAA track and field

Wilson’s case for the Bowerman only gets stronger when adding in indoor accolades that include a record-setting title-winning 400-meter race and a clutch 4x4 split to secure the DI women's indoor team title.


2. Julien Alfred | Texas

Julien Alfred has the next strongest case as the Bowerman front-runner. During the indoor season, she won the 60m and 200m titles, setting collegiate records in the process while dominating the 60-meter record book week after week. During the outdoor season, Alfred has run on four collegiate-record setting relays while individually running the second-fastest all-time 200 meters and the fourth-fastest all-time 100 meters.

Alfred’s outdoor season has been impressive, but she gets the No. 2 spot (1b in actuality) without having an individual collegiate record outdoors.

RECORDS: Watch every collegiate record set in 2023

3. Jasmine Moore | Florida

I think Jasmine Moore would be a finalist if the Bowerman was decided today. Moore swept the indoor SEC and NCAA long jump and triple jump titles, setting two collegiate records in the process. Moore most recently swept the outdoor SEC long jump and triple jump titles.

While Moore doesn’t have the outdoor collegiate record Katelyn Tuohy has (more on that later), the horizontal jumper does have two outdoor SEC titles, continuing an eight-event streak across two years. It’s close, but Moore gets the highly desired third spot entering prelims.

SEC CHAMPS: Arkansas wins the 2023 SEC outdoor track and field championships

4. Katelyn Tuohy | NC State

If the Bowerman finalists were announced today, I believe Katelyn Tuohy would narrowly miss out. That’s how stacked the watch list is at the top.

During the indoor season, Tuohy set three collegiate records and won two NCAA titles. During the outdoor season, she set the 5000-meter collegiate record and won the ACC 10,000 meter title in her first-ever collegiate race. Tuohy’s Bowerman resume doesn’t include her cross country efforts this year, which aren’t considered for the award.

Tuohy sits at a close fourth right now because one outdoor conference championship is less than two and she finished third among collegians in the 5K at the Wake Forest Invitational. 

STELLAR: Katelyn Tuohy career, times, highlights and records at NC State

Outside looking in

5. Jorinde Van Klinken | Oregon

Jorinde Van Klinken is one of five women to make every Bowerman watch list this season. Unlike the other four, Van Klinken didn’t win an indoor title, finishing sixth in the shot put. That slots her in at No. 5 on this list. However, Van Klinken still has the fifth-best case for the trophy thanks to her consistency during the outdoor season in the discus, winning the Pac-12 title. 

As we saw with Camryn Rogers’ finish as a finalist last year, a thrower could finish in the top three, especially if she breaks a collegiate record. Luckily for Van Klinken, she’s no stranger to the discus record, setting the mark in 2021.

🔮: 7 second-half predictions for the outdoor track and field season

The hurdlers

6. Ackera Nugent | Arkansas
7. Masai Russell | Kentucky
8. Alia Armstrong | LSU

You can make your case for any three of these hurdlers to be ranked above the other and you’d probably have a valid point. The proximity between them is why they don't find themselves inside the top-five of this list, but if any win the 100 hurdles NCAA title and/or set a collegiate record they’d surely be deserving of a spot in the top five. Here’s why I ordered the three electrifying hurdlers as such.

Ackera Nugent is No. 6 because she set the CURRENT 60 hurdles record and won the NCAA 60 hurdles title. The NCAA title gives her the slight advantage entering NCAA prelims.

Masai Russell is No. 7 because she set collegiate records during both the indoor and outdoor season. She also has the second-best 400 hurdles time this year, adding to her Bowerman resume. 

Alia Armstrong returned to the watch list for the first time since the preseason after winning the SEC 100 hurdles title. Yet, Armstrong’s case for the Bowerman at this juncture is the weakest of the three hurdlers because she doesn’t have the same indoor success.

ELITE: Top 10 women’s track and field performances before NCAA preliminaries

Career debuts

9. Michaela Rose | LSU
10. Ackelia Smith | Texas

Michaela Rose and Ackelia Smith both make their first Bowerman watch list appearance of their careers this week. Both currently have the No. 2 outdoor all-time marks in the 800 meters and long jump, respectively. Neither won an indoor NCAA title. However, Rose gets the nod over Smith here because Rose has the fourth-best all-time indoor 800 meters to Smith’s fifth-best and sixth-best all-time indoor triple and long jump.

Additional cases:

Texas A&M’s Lamara Distin dropped from the watch list after making every watch list prior to update No. 6. All Distin did between update No. 5 and No. 6 is win the SEC high jump title as the only woman to surpass 1.90 meters. It’s odd that she’d fall from the watch list, especially since she’s been consistently dominant throughout the year, surpassing 1.90 meters at every meet across the indoor and outdoor seasons and winning the indoor NCAA high jump crown.

While Distin dropped from watch list update No. 6, her resume remains strong and she could find herself back on the watch list if she wins the outdoor high jump title, boosting her chances to be a finalist.

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