Kimberlyn Duncan wins prestigious Bowerman award

ORLANDO, Fla. — LSU’s Kimberlyn Duncan capped an historical year Wednesday night as she was announced as the 2012 women’s recipient of The Bowerman, which honors the premier athlete in collegiate track and field, in a special awards ceremony at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes.

Duncan made history as the first Southeastern Conference athlete to win The Bowerman, which is considered to be track and field’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, since the award’s creation in 2009.

Duncan, a senior-to-be from Katy, Texas, won the honor over two other finalists — Arizona high jumper Brigetta Barrett and Oregon multi-eventer Brianne Theisen.

Distance runner Cam Levins of Southern Utah was honored as the men’s recipient of The Bowerman, with both awards being presented at a banquet held in conjunction with the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s National Convention.

Levins won the award over Florida sprinter Tony McQuay and Illinois sprinter/hurdler Andrew Riley.

This marked the second year in a row in which Duncan has been honored as a finalist for collegiate track and field’s highest honor as she is the only two-time finalist on the women’s side in the history of the award.

This year’s finalists, which were announced by the USTFCCCA on June 29, were chosen by the Bowerman Advisory Board. Track and field writers and others associated with the sport voted on the winners along with online fan voting that counted as one ballot.

“I’m in total shock right now, I don’t even know what to say,” Duncan said following the announcement. “When I heard them call my name, I had to take a moment just to make sure I heard them right. It’s so surreal. To know that those voting for this award see me as the best athlete at this level is very humbling to me.

“We have some amazing athletes from some great programs here tonight. Any one of them is deserving of this award. Of course, I’m very excited to win it this year while representing my school and my team at LSU.”

Duncan, a two-time winner of the NCAA’s 200 meters indoors and outdoor, thanked her coaches and teammates for pushing her and family for supporting her.

“I think this is just a result of their impact on my life and how they push me each and every day,” she said. “And I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family. They’ve supported me and helped me to get where I am today. I’m blessed to have them in my life.

“This only pushes me and motivates me to reach my full potential in this sport. I’m very honored to receive this award, and will work even harder to defend it in my senior year.”

Duncan cemented her legacy as one of the NCAA’s all-time greats while leading the Lady Tigers as a junior during the 2012 season.

She defended her NCAA indoor and outdoor titles in the 200, becoming the first sprinter in collegiate history to sweep national titles in the event in back-to-back seasons. She also smashed her low-altitude collegiate record with a personal record of 22.19 seconds in the semifinals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Duncan also earned a reputation as one of the world’s emerging stars in the 100 when she became just the fifth collegiate sprinter all-time to break 11 seconds in the event when she clocked a time of 10.96 seconds in the final at the SEC Championships.

Now the No. 3-ranked sprinter in collegiate history in both the 100 and 200, Duncan has captured five NCAA championships, seven SEC championships and nine All-America honors as one of the most decorated sprinters in school history.

Duncan follows in the footsteps of Colorado’s Jenny Barringer (2009), Virginia Tech’s Queen Harrison (2010) and Texas A&M’s Jessica Beard (2011) as women who have won The Bowerman, while Levins joins Oregon’s Galen Rupp (2009) and Ashton Eaton (2010) and Florida State’s Ngoni Makusha (2011) as men’s winners.