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Bowerman candidates headline 2018 Pac-12 Track & Field awards

May 16, 2018
John Lozano/Josh Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO – USC sprinters and Bowerman candidates Michael Norman and Kendall Ellis were named the Pac-12 Men's and Women's Track Athletes of the Year, while OREGON's Damarcus Simpson and ARIZONA STATE's Bowerman candidate Maggie Ewen were tabbed the Pac-12 Men's and Women's Field Athletes of the Year in a vote of the Conference coaches announced on Wednesday.

Additionally, ARIZONA's Jordan Geist and USC's Twanisha Terry were selected Pac-12 Men's and Women's Track & Field Freshmen of the Year, Trojans' head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert was named Women's Coach of the Year and OREGON's Robert Johnson was voted Men's Coach of the Year.

Men's Track Athlete of the Year: Michael Norman, USC

Norman, the Bowerman candidate and national leader in the 200-meter dash, is the first USC recipient of the Pac-12 Track Athlete of the Year since Olympic medalist Andre De Grasse in 2015. In total, the sophomore sprinter from Murrieta, Calif., is the 11th athlete and the 13th overall winner of the award in USC program history.

A three-time Pac-12 Track Athlete of the Week winner during the season, Norman became only the third male to pull off the 200-400 double at the Conference Championships, improving on his NCAA lead with a wind-aided 19.84 seconds in the 200 and posting the nation's No. 3 mark to win the 400 in 44.40 seconds, just .06 off the 30-year-old meet record.

Women's Track Athlete of the Year: Kendall Ellis, USC

Bowerman candidate Ellis becomes the fourth Trojan to earn the Conference Women's Track Athlete of the Year honor, joining Inger Miller (1994), Virginia Powell (2006) and Nia Ali (2011).

The senior from Pembroke Pines, Fla., broke her own Pac-12 Championships record in the 400-meter dash this past weekend, recording the second-fastest time in collegiate history at 49.99 seconds. She also helped the 4x100- and 4x400-meter relay teams to victory and added a fourth-place finish in the 200 to secure 20 points to the Trojans' title haul of 170.

Men's Field Athlete of the Year: Damarcus Simpson, OREGON

Simpson defended his Pac-12 long jump title, becoming the third Ducks athlete to win the event multiple times, along with adding podium finishes in the 100-meter dash and 4x100-meter relay to help pace Oregon to its 12th consecutive men's team title last weekend. The senior from Lafayette, Ga., essentially had the long jump title secured with a legal leap of 8.07 meters on his first attempt, but added a wind-aided and NCAA-leading mark of 8.33 meters (+3.0 m/s) on his third attempt to lock up the repeat.

It marks Oregon's fourth all-time Men's Field Athlete of the Year honor and the first since Ashton Eaton won his second in a row in 2010.

Women's Field Athlete of the Year: Maggie Ewen, ARIZONA STATE

Ewen, the reigning Bowerman finalist and current candidate, becomes the fourth athlete to garner multiple Women's Field Athlete of the Year honors along with former Sun Devil Sarah Stevens (2007, 2009) and Olympic medalists Brigetta Barrett (Arizona - 2011, 2013) and Brianne Theisen (Oregon - 2010, 2012).

Ewen cemented her legacy as the greatest female thrower in Pac-12 Championships history with her second straight treble – event victories in the hammer, shot put and discus – to garner Athlete of the Meet honors with 30 points for the second year in a row. The redshirt senior from St. Francis, Minn., broke her own meet record in the hammer (74.38m) and set a new meet mark in the shot put (19.22m) to become the only female and second athlete (Henry Rono, WSU) in league history to own two Championships records. Her seven total Pac-12 event titles ties her with UCLA's Gail Devers and Dawn Dumble and Stanford's Erica McLain for the most in women's Championships history.

The defending NCAA hammer champion will enter the West Preliminaries as the national leader in three events in a season already highlighted by collegiate record efforts in both the hammer and shot put.

Men's Track & Field Freshman of the Year: Jordan Geist, ARIZONA

Geist became the first freshman to win the league's shot put title and subsequently became the first freshman to double in the shot and discus at last weekend's Conference Championships. The rookie from Saxonburg, Pa., also nabbed two points with a seventh-place finish in the hammer throw to score 22 points for the Wildcats to earn Athlete of the Meet honors.

Also a three-time Pac-12 Field Athlete of the Week recipient, Geist currently ranks fourth in the nation in the shot put with a mark of 20.41 meters at the Desert Heat Classic in April and is the Pac-12 leader in the discus (57.56 meters).

Women's Track & Field Freshman of the Year: Twanisha Terry, USC

Terry was the leading freshman point-producer at the 2018 Pac-12 Championships, amassing 16.5 points to help USC knock off nine-time defending champion Oregon for the Trojans' first league title since 1996.

The two-time Pac-12 Track Athlete of the Week became only the fourth freshman to win the league's 100-meter dash title. The rookie from Miami, Fla., also anchored the 4x100-meter relay to victory and took fifth in the 200 en route to the fifth women's Freshman of the Year honor and second-in-a-row for the USC program.

Terry owns the nation's second-best and Pac-12 leading time in the 100 (10.96 +2.6 m/s) and is the anchor on the league-leading and NCAA's third-best 4x100 relay (42.57).

Men's Track & Field Coach of the Year: Robert Johnson, OREGON

Johnson earns a Conference Coach of the Year accolade for the eighth time - fourth time as the league's top men's coach - since taking the reins at Oregon ahead of the 2012-13 season. He has carried on the men of Oregon's domination as he guided the Ducks to their 12th consecutive Conference crown - the sixth of his head coaching tenure.

Johnson's Ducks matched their program record with seven event titles at last weekend's Championships en route to the fourth-most points in meet history (174).

Women's Track & Field Coach of the Year: Caryl Smith Gilbert, USC

Smith Gilbert collects her third career Pac-12 Coach of the Year award and first since sweeping both the men's and women's honors in 2015.

A former Pac-10 team and 100-meter dash champion, Smith Gilbert led the Trojans' women's team to its first Conference title since 1996, unseating nine-time defending champion Oregon last weekend. USC equaled a program-best with eight event titles at the Pac-12 Championships.

Smith Gilbert's Trojans have ascended to the top of the latest USTFCCCA national rankings, checking in at No. 1 for just the third time in the poll era and first since late in the 2015 campaign.