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Feb. 10, 2011

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By Miquel Jacobs
Media Relations Assistant

We are now four weeks into the season and in the midst of the “Championship Stretch”, and this is the point where the track & field community begins taking a hard look at the individual athletes around the country. Each week here on we will provide you with a variety of updates ranging from practice reports to student-athlete features to storylines to video interviews to everything going on in the world of Gamecock track and field. Our fourth report highlights the recent addition of senior Lakya Brookins to the 10-person watch list for The Bowerman award, the top individual award in track & field and the equivalent of football’s Heisman Trophy and soccer’s Hermann Trophy.

The Bowerman is awarded each year to the top male and top female collegiate athlete in the sport of NCAA track & field and is named after legendary coach Bill Bowerman, who coached the track & field team at the University of Oregon from 1949-72 and co-founded Nike. The Bowerman will select a final group of 10 candidates in early summer before whittling it down to a list of three finalists in late June.

Thursday marked the second report of the season of a watch list for the women, and the committee added three names that weren’t on the preseason list released in January: Brookins (South Carolina), Tina Sutej (Arkansas) and Neely Spence (Shippensburg). The additions weren’t a surprise given that all three are the collegiate leaders in their respective events – Brookins in the 60-meter dash, Sutej in the pole vault and Spence in the 5,000-meter run.

On the Gamecock front, it seemed as if it was only a matter of time before Brookins was added to the list. A tireless worker in training, she has seen her senior season blossom into the kind of career people have come to expect from the Curtis Frye’s women’s team. Despite being a 2009 NCAA Champion in the 60-meter dash, Brookins was not included on the any of the 2010 Bowerman watch lists, partly due to the fact that the award honors achievements that span the indoor and outdoor season. That is not to say Brookins hasn’t possessed the strong credentials in the outdoor season though. Her 2010 effort to make the list was derailed in mid-May when an illness prevented her from competing at the SEC Outdoor Championships. Despite being a favorite to win the 100-meter dash at that meet and sweep the short sprint titles (60m and 100m), Brookins did not make the trip to Knoxville, Tenn., and in an attempt to return to the track two short weeks later, she did not advance past the NCAA Preliminary Round.

Luckily for Brookins, it seems the 2011 season may take a different direction. Twice this year she has been named the SEC Female Runner of the Week and currently has the nation’s only sub-7.20 time this year in the 60-meter dash. Among the host of credentials she has for this season are a No. 1 NCAA ranking, No. 2 American ranking and No. 5 world ranking in her marquee event. At this point, she has hit an NCAA qualifying time in five straight runs dating back to a first place finish in the Hokie Invitational on January 22. Furthermore, she is the only 60-meter runner in the nation to hit an NCAA automatic qualifying time in every meet of her team’s 2011 season. She will see another test at her nation-leading status this weekend, most notably from Stormy Kendricks from South Carolina’s main athletics rival – Clemson. And in two weeks, she will attempt to become the first athlete to EVER** successfully defend her SEC title in the 60-meter dash at the SEC Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. (**Auburn’s Kerron Stewart won the short sprint title in both 2006 and 2007, but at different distances. The 2006 title was a 55-meter dash title while the 2007 title was a 60-meter dash title.)

Brookins is the second Gamecock to be selected to the official watch list in the three-year history of the award. Last season, NCAA champion Johnny Dutch was named one of the final 10 candidates for the award after his stellar junior season that saw him finish the season undefeated in the 400-meter hurdles. That season, five of the final 10 men’s candidates came from the SEC.

For more information on The Bowerman, the award and Bill Bowerman himself, visit