THE BOWERMAN: 2017 WOMEN'S FINALISTS By: TYLER MAYFORTH, USTFCCCA

NEW ORLEANS – From ten, now there are three.

The Bowerman Advisory Board chose Arizona State’s Maggie Ewen, Georgia’s Keturah Orji and Oregon’s Raevyn Rogers as the women’s finalists for the highest individual honor in collegiate track & field.

Out of the ten semifinalists, Ewen, Orji and Rogers had the best chance of taking home The Bowerman come December 15. That’s because in addition to winning NCAA titles and putting together strong indoor and outdoor campaigns, they broke long-standing collegiate records.

Ewen entered the 2017 collegiate track & field season as a relative unknown but left it as the top overall point scorer at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships thanks to three All-America performances in the hammer (first), discus (second) and shot put (sixth), and most importantly, the collegiate outdoor record holder in the hammer.

Arizona State's Maggie Ewen is flanked by her parents, Bruce and Kristi, after the 2017 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships (Photo: Arizona State Athletics).

The Arizona State junior joined The Bowerman conversation on April 19, which came on the heels of her performance at the Baldy Castillo Invitational in mid-March. It was in Tempe, Arizona, where Ewen launched the hammer 72.71m (238-6) and moved into second place on the all-time collegiate chart behind former Georgia standout Jenny Dahlgren.

Ewen wasn’t done there – not by a long shot.

Less than three months later Ewen had not only swept the discus, hammer and shot put titles at the Pac-12 Championships (becoming just the second thrower in conference history to do so), but also pushed her effort from the Baldy Castillo Invitational down to third on the all-time chart thanks to a heave of 72.81m (238-10) at the Duel in the Desert in mid-April.

No throw by Ewen left more of a mark on the 2017 outdoor season than her third attempt in Eugene, Oregon. Ewen hurled the chained implement 73.32m (240-6) and shattered Dahlgren’s 10-year-old standard.

"Anything that would have broken the record would have been awesome, but the 73 (meters) was kind of what we wanted. It seems like the record was toying with us, but we've been trying not to think about it. We've been trying to go into every competition and do what you’re going to do. If it's meant to happen, it will happen." - Maggie Ewen

The native of St. Francis, Minnesota, now owns the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 marks in collegiate history – all from her performances this year.

Ewen is the first female finalist from Arizona State. Former Sun Devil thrower Ryan Whiting was a finalist for the men's award in 2010.

Orji carried the momentum from placing fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games into the collegiate track & field cycle and left her mark in a big way.

Owning the collegiate outdoor record an the American outdoor record in the triple jump wasn’t enough for Orji as she rewrote the indoor record book as well. Orji put together a historic series at the SEC Championships where she recorded identical No. 1 marks of 14.32m (46-11¾) that double as the American record and collegiate indoor record, the No. 3 mark of 14.28m (46-10¼) and the No. 6 mark of 14.20m (46-7¼).

“I sometimes think at different times, 'I can’t believe I did that (set a record or do so well at a world-class meet).' But I don’t want to get caught up in things because I feel like I’ll be content with where I am and not get better, so I try not to think about it too much. But there are always those little moments where I’m like, 'Wow, I really did that.'" - Keturah Orji

The Georgia junior took some time off after winning her second NCAA indoor title in a row and made her outdoor debut nearly two months later at the Torrin Lawrence Memorial. It was worth the wait as Orji notched the No. 2 mark in collegiate outdoor history (14.31m/46-11½) on her first attempt.

Orji rolled through the rest of the outdoor season and completed the indoor-outdoor sweep of the triple jump titles once again and added a runner-up finish in the long jump for good measure. Speaking of measurement, Orji finished three-quarters of an inch behind teammate Kate Hall at NCAAs, which left her agonizingly close to becoming a three-time NCAA champ in 2017.

Georgia junior Keturah Orji competes in the long jump during the 2017 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships (Photo: Image of Sport).

The native of Mount Olive, New Jersey, totaled 18 points in Eugene, Oregon, to bring her 2017 total to 34, which accounted for 30 percent of Georgia's 113.2 combined points at NCAAs. She also finished third in the indoor long jump.

Orji is the fourth woman to be a two-time finalist for The Bowerman. She joins Brigetta Barrett, Kimberlyn Duncan and Courtney Okolo in that regard. Both Duncan and Okolo walked away with The Bowerman on their second trip.

Rogers took no prisoners in her junior season.

The native of Houston, Texas, cruised to her second sweep of the NCAA half-mile titles and left her name all over the collegiate record books, be it as an individual or part of Oregon’s relays.

Rogers and her teammates started things off with a record-breaking performance at the Columbia East-West Challenge where they lowered the distance medley relay standard. On the 800-meter leg, Rogers split 2:03.53 (Oregon’s final time was 10:48.77).

The Oregon junior then took aim at the collegiate outdoor record book, specifically the 800-meter standard of 1:59.11 set by Suzy Favor in 1990. Rogers coveted that record since her freshman year and finally knocked Favor off her perch as she clocked a time of 1:59.10 at the Mt. SAC Relays to win an elite section stacked with professionals.

Oregon junior Raevyn Rogers celebrates after crossing the finish line at the Mt. SAC Relays (Photo: Image of Sport).
"I really just prayed about it and let my body do the work. I'm trying to prove how capable I am of running these bigger times." - Raevyn Rogers following her record-breaking run

Rogers anchored two relay teams to collegiate outdoor records – one of which has since fallen (sprint medley) – but the one that remains on top fittingly made double history at Historic Hayward Field.

First, it lowered the 4x400 record to 3:23.13 (Rogers split 49.77). Secondly, Rogers held off Southern California's Kendall Ellis to give Oregon 10 huge team points that secured the outdoor title and assured the Ducks the first women's Triple Crown in NCAA DI history.

Rogers is the fourth woman from Oregon to be named a finalist. Brianne Theisen (2012), Laura Roesler (2014) and Jenna Prandini (2015) are the others. Both Roesler and Prandini are former winners of The Bowerman.

Here are the three finalists for The Bowerman: Maggie Ewen, Keturah Orji, Raevyn Rogers.

Fan voting for The Bowerman opens Thursday, June 22 after the release of the men's finalists at 3 pm CT and runs until June 30. You may vote up to five times per day for who you think should bring home The Bowerman.

We’ll find out who wins The Bowerman on December 15 at the annual USTFCCCA Convention, which will be held from December 12-15 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona.

Former Texas standout Courtney Okolo won The Bowerman in 2016 (Photo: Craig Macaluso).

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.