Michael Norman, current Nike pro and former USC phenom, won this year's Bowerman Award for his sensational assault on not only the NCAA record books, but also world history.
In his second year at USC, Norman bounced back from injuries that kept him from his winning ways as a freshman in dramatic fashion by resetting the world record in the indoor 400m (44.52), smashing the collegiate record in the outdoor 400m (43.61), and anchoring the indoor (44.52, 3:00.59) & outdoor (43.62, 2:59.00) collegiate-record 4x400 relay teams. We still think it's bullshit that Norman can't claim two world records to his name after such a stunning sophomore year, but still—those accolades alone made him one of the most outstanding candidates for The Bowerman Award in its 10-year history, and the committee delivered by handing him the honor.
The 43.61 Norman ran at the NCAA Outdoor Championships led the world this year, and the 19.84-second 200m PR he ran at the Paris Diamond League meeting ended up at No. 6 worldwide at the end of the season. Against NCAA competition, he went undefeated, and on the world stage, he won in Paris and lost in Lausanne against his contemporary Noah Lyles, whose 19.65 was fastest in 2018.
Norman's USC and Nike teammate, Rai Benjamin, was also nominated for the prestigious award for his mind-blowing performances in the 400m hurdles this year, which culminated in a NCAA record and the third-fastest mark of all time, 47.02. The nomination of Florida's Grant Holloway, another NCAA record-holder and absurdly versatile athlete who can score points at Nationals in anything from the long jump to the 4x400m relay to the 60m hurdles, made this arguably the strongest field of nominees in The Bowerman Award's history.
Norman is USC's first athlete to ever win The Bowerman Award, but if the tradition of greatness that Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert has helped fostered there continues, he certainly won't be its last.
Watch Norman's reaction to winning The Bowerman Award:
First-ever Bowerman winner for USC. pic.twitter.com/n2jTkuZN2m— FloTrack (@FloTrack) December 21, 2018