By Steve Lansdale
AUSTIN, Texas — With a collection of awards that never seems to stop growing, Texas track star Courtney Okolo took a step closer to adding her sport’s biggest individual award when the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named her one of three finalists for the 2016 Women’s Bowerman Award.
A finalist for the award two years ago, Okolo established herself as the nation’s dominant performer in the women’s 400, shattering her own national record when she ran a 49.71 at the LSU Alumni Gold — a performance that gave her four of the 10 fastest college women’s times ever. The run also was the second-fastest time run in the world this year.
The other two finalists for the Women’s Bowerman Award are Georgia triple jumper Keturah Orji and Ole Miss thrower Raven Saunders.
Okolo swept the indoor and outdoor NCAA titles in the 400 this season, and then turned in one of the most dramatic performances of the year when she ran the anchor leg of the women’s 4x400-meter relay. She took the baton in the middle of the pack and trailed by about 20 meters with 150 to go before kicking past the rest of the field to give Texas the national championship in the event.
After the NCAA Indoor Championship in March, Okolo helped Team USA win the 4x400-meter relay at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Eugene, Ore.
Winners of the men's and women's Bowerman Awards will be announced during the USTFCCCA Convention in December in Orlando, Fla.