Just when we thought Ryan Whiting had accomplished all he could during his storied college track & field career, along comes one more possibility.
Whiting, who pretty much owned the shot put event during a storied career at Arizona State that just concluded, has been announced as one of three male finalists for The Bowerman.
The award was first introduced last year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as the top honor for a male and female college track & field athlete. It is named after the late Oregon coach, Bill Bowerman, and is intended to be the equivalent of winning the Heisman Trophy in college football.
But this award, as big as it is, has to be somewhat anti-climatic for the man who has won it all in the sport.
Whiting dominated his events throughout much of his career, particularly during his senior year when he went undefeated against college competitors in the shot put.
In indoor competition, he won the NCAA Championship in the shot put for the third year in a row, becoming just the third male athlete all-time to do that. In outdoor competition, he swept the shot put and discus at the NCAA Championships to earn the fifth and sixth national titles of his career.
He built upon success after success all year long.
In March at the ASU Invitational, he heaved the iron ball 69’8.75″ to re-set his own school record, as well as establish new NCAA, USA, and world marks. He won the shot put by over 12 feet!
Then, on the very last throw of his collegiate career, he broke the 72-foot mark for the first time in his career with a throw of 72’01” and came within just three centimeters from the world record. It was the second-best throw in collegiate history.
By the time Whiting was done competing in the maroon and gold, he had 11 All-America honors, the school record in the shot, six national titles (one in the discus), a No. 3 world ranking in the shot, and was named Co-National Field Athlete of the Year for Outdoor Track and Field by the USTFCCCA.
A civil engineering major, he is headed to Penn State for graduate school and will also be focusing on working toward competing in the 2012 Olympics.
Whiting won’t know if he has won The Bowerman until sometime in December. The 10-member Bowerman Advisory Board will vote next with print ballots, followed by online voting by the public and USTFCCCA members.
The winner will be announced Dec. 15 in an awards ceremony in San Antonio, TX.
His competition this year includes two athletes from Oregon, both seniors. Ashton Eaton is a heptathlete and Andrew Wheating is a middle-distance runner.
It was an all-Pac-10 field this year on the men’s side, but the women’s finalists came from Virginia Tech, Iowa State, and Texas El-Paso.
In 2009, the inaugural year for the award, Galen Rupp took home the trophy. He was a distance runner from Oregon, which seems fitting since the award is named for an Oregon coach.
So, since two of the three finalists this year are Ducks, maybe it’s time to break the mold. Maybe it’s time for a Sun Devil to win The Bowerman.
And that, too, would seem fitting since Whiting has won just about everything else.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)