Record numbers show their support for Zimbabwean.
NEW ORLEANS – In the most highly-participated fan voting to date, Florida State’s Ngoni Makusha and Texas A&M’s Jessica Beard were the top earners in online balloting for collegiate track & field’s most coveted award – The Bowerman.
With nearly 83,000 total fan votes cast since August 1st, a record by over three times, the duo earned one first-place vote apiece towards the award’s final vote tally. The winners of The Bowerman, determined by this fan vote and paper balloting, will be announced in December.
Makusha earned 42 percent of the votes with 17,562 of the total 41,683 responses on the men’s ballot. Washington State’s Jeshua Anderson will earn a second-place vote as he carded 30 percent (12,680) of the fan vote while Florida’s Christian Taylor (27 percent, 11,441) will have a third-place vote. For the first time in the award’s history, all three finalists earned over 10,000 fan votes. In the previous two years, no male had tallied more than 4,000 fan votes.
Anderson held the lead in the balloting until Makusha earned a one-day record 3,664 votes on Thursday, August 11. From that point, Makusha remained the frontrunner.
Makusha has split time between training in Tallahassee and competing abroad since he announced his decision to pursue a professional career after nearly carrying the Seminoles to the NCAA Outdoor Championships team title. He set a new NCAA record in the 100-meter dash, winning in 9.89, then won the long jump with the fourth-best leap (27-6 ¾) in collegiate history. Makusha capped his big day by anchoring the Seminoles’ gold medal 4x100 relay team.
The relay was his fourth NCAA championship medal of the year. Makusha won the NCAA Indoor long jump jump title (26-8 ½) in March.
Despite his contributions, the Seminoles came up one point shy of unseating Texas A&M for their third NCAA title.
Makush departed for Daegu, Korea – site of the World Championships - from Tallahassee on Wednesday, where he will represent Zimbabwe in both the 100 and long jump later this month.
There was no doubt that the continuing growth of social media, coupled with the increased knowledge of the award, propelled the vote total skyward. A total of 82,949 selections were made in this year’s fan vote, compared to 27,000 picks in 2010 and 20,000 in 2009.
Nearly 10,000 visits to The Bowerman website (TheBowerman.org) over the 16-day period came as a referral from Facebook. NewZimbabwe.com – a primary news source Makusha’s native home - was the second-highest referral.
While over 81 percent of visits to The Bowerman site came from the United States, Zimbabwe had the second-most hits among all countries. The United Kingdom, South Africa, and Canada fell next in line. Among the U.S. states, Texas claimed the most visitors with over 32 percent, followed by Washington (12 percent), Florida (9 percent), Georgia (8 percent), and Louisiana (5 percent). College Station, Texas claimed the most visits by city as over 12 percent (6,351) of the visits came from the home of Texas A&M.
Paper balloting by The Bowerman Advisory Board, past winners, selected media personnel, statisticians, and collegiate administrators, along with this fan vote will help select a winner. An independent accounting firm will collect, tabulate, and certify the final results and will keep the result secret until the envelope is opened during the award ceremony in December.
The award, in its third year of existence, will be presented in a ceremony at the USTFCCCA Convention on December 14 at the JW Marriott Hill Country, San Antonio, Texas. John Anderson, ESPN SportsCenter anchor and co-host of ABC’s Wipeout, will host the evening’s festivities for the second-straight year.
About The Bowerman
The Bowerman, which debuted in 2009, is presented annually by the USTFCCCA to the most outstanding male and female collegiate track & field athletes in the nation. Oregon's Ashton Eaton and Virginia Tech’s Queen Harrison are the reigning winners of The Bowerman, which is named for legendary Oregon track & field and cross country coach Bill Bowerman.
Bowerman served the sport of track and field in numerous ways. His leadership in the USTFCCCA’s predecessor organization, the National Collegiate Track Coaches Association, and his contributions to NCAA track and field and the running community as a whole are among his many lasting legacies.
For more information on The Bowerman, the award, the trophy, and Bill Bowerman himself, visit TheBowerman.org.
About the USTFCCCA
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) is a non-profit professional organization representing cross country and track & field coaches of all levels. The organization represents over 8,000 coaching members encompassing 94% of all NCAA track & field programs (DI, DII, and DIII) and includes members representing the NAIA as well as a number of state high school coaches associations. The USTFCCCA serves as an advocate for cross country and track & field coaches, providing a leadership structure to assist the needs of a diverse membership, serving as a lobbyist for coaches' interests, and working as a liaison between the various stakeholders in the sports of cross country and track & field.