This week, FloTrack will introduce you to all six Bowerman finalists ahead of Friday's Bowerman Awards, which will crown one male and one female as the best track and field athletes in the NCAA for the 2017 season. You can watch the awards ceremony live from Phoenix on FloTrack here.
ATHLETE: Keturah Orji
COLLEGE: University of Georgia
NCAA ACCOLADES IN 2017:
- Broke the 20-year-old NCAA record in the indoor triple jump with a leap of 14.32m/46-11.75
- Undefeated in the triple jump this year, including the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships, SEC Indoor and Outdoor Championships
- Earned All-American honors in the long jump with a runner-up finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and a third-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships
Why She Will Win: The 21-year-old Orji is simply dominant in her event, the triple jump. She still has one more year of eligibility left and she's already a five-time NCAA champion and two-time U.S. senior champion. The only reason her 14.31m season-best didn't set an NCAA record is because she jumped 14.53m to break the record last year (and later, over the summer, broke the American record with a 14.71m for fourth at the Rio Games). She came very close to pulling off the rare long jump/triple jump double at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and her combined 18 points between the two events helped Georgia come within two points of the team title against an incredibly stacked University of Oregon squad. Orji is a repeat Bowerman finalist, which bodes well for her chances: of three women to be nominated more than once, two won the award the second time (Kimberlyn Duncan and Courtney Okolo).
Why She Won't Win: While Orji's indoor campaign produced an NCAA record, her outdoor season was not as earth-shattering as her sophomore year. It's hard to conceive the vote swaying in favor of an athlete who didn't PR in the spring. Still, she has one more year of eligibility and is likely to become the first female athlete and second overall athlete behind Edward Cheserek to earn three consecutive Bowerman Award nominations.
Keturah Orji talks to FloTrack after an outstanding NCAA Outdoor double that saw her win gold in the triple jump and silver in the long jump: