Bulldog sophomore Keturah Orji has been named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Women’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year, according to an announcement on Thursday.
Orji joins Texas A&M junior Lindon Victor (Men’s Field Athlete), Texas senior Courtney Okolo (Women’s Track Athlete) and Arkansas senior Jarrion Lawson (Men’s Track Athlete) as the other 2016 recipients.
This marks the first Bulldog to earn the USTFCCCA National Outdoor Athlete of the Year since junior Kendell Williams garnered the honor as a true freshman in 2014. This gives Georgia a sweep of the Women’s Field Athlete honor after Williams earned the 2016 indoor accolade. The collegiate record holder in the hammer throw and a three-time Olympian, Jenny Dahlgren, also brought this outdoor award home to Athens in 2006 and 2007.
Orji and Williams have already been named as two of the 10 semifinalists for The Bowerman Award, track and field’s version of the Heisman Trophy, and as two of the four finalists for track’s Honda Award.
Orji, a native of Mount Olive, N.J., 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 this season. 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 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.
All 11 of her measured attempts this season in the triple surpassed the No. 2 collegian, and she surpassed 14 meters (45-11.25) with a legal wind six times – no other collegian has done that more than four times in an NCAA career.
Orji has quickly become of the most decorated jumpers in NCAA history. The four-time SEC champion and seven-time First Team All-American has already won three triple jump national titles. Orji is 8-0 in outdoor collegiate meets in the triple and 16-for-17 indoors and outdoors over her career. She 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.