Bulldog track and field’s Keturah Orji has been named one of three finalists The Bowerman Award, which is considered the sport’s highest individual honor.
Orji was picked from 10 semifinalists, including five-time NCAA champion and Georgia teammate Kendell Williams, and Orji joins Ole Miss sophomore Raven Saunders and Texas senior Courtney Okolo as the finalists for the iconic 35-pound trophy. The Bowerman Award was named after legendary Oregon coach Bill Bowerman. Three finalists for the men’s award will be announced on Friday.
There have been three winners from the Southeastern Conference and five other finalists from the SEC since the award’s inception in 2009.
The Bowerman Award winners will be announced in December at the 2016 USTFCCCA Convention in Orlando, Fla., at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Resort and Spa.
Orji, a Mount Olive, N.J., native who was semifinalist as a true freshman in 2015, has quickly become of the most decorated jumpers in NCAA history. The four-time SEC champion and seven-time First Team All-American has won three out of the four triple jump national titles she has contended for (finished second at the 2015 NCAA indoor meet). Orji is 8-0 in outdoor collegiate meets in the triple in her career and 16-for-17 overall over her career. The 2016 USTFCCCA National Outdoor Women’s Field Athlete of the Year owns the sixth, seventh and eighth-best indoor collegiate jumps in history while outdoors, she owns the top, second, seventh and eighth-best collegiate jumps ever.
During this year’s outdoor season, Orji broke the collegiate record in the triple jump at the 2016 NCAA East Prelims in Jacksonville, Fla., with a leap of 46 feet, 10 ¾ inches. Then she increased that standard with a meet record jump at the NCAA Championships to a wind-legal (2.0 meters/seconds or less) 47-8, which also broke the overall American record and is No. 7 on the current world list. Orji complemented her win in the triple with a sixth-place finish in the long jump as the Lady Bulldogs matched their all-time top finish at the NCAA outdoor meet (third).
In addition, Orji matched the all-time, all-conditions collegiate best in the triple with a school record mark of 47-10.75 in windy conditions at SECs. Orji concluded the season being named the SEC Outdoor Scholar-Athlete of the Year with her 3.95 GPA, the SEC Women’s Field Athlete of the Year and the USTFCCCA South Region Women’s Field Athlete of the Year.
Indoors, Orji was named the SEC Women’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Year meet and had a school record mark of 46-2.50 to win her second consecutive indoor title. She then improved that school record to 46-4 during the run to her first NCAA indoor crown while also placing fourth in the long jump. Orji concluded her second indoor season by finishing fourth at the IAAF World Indoor Championships with yet another school record effort of 46-4.75.