Florida track stars in the running for Bowerman Award

University of Florida juniors Will Claye and Christian Taylor each have been named semifinalists for collegiate track and field’s biggest award – The Bowerman. They are among 10 male finalists for the award, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced Monday.

With the collegiate season complete, the semifinalists will be evaluated by the 10-person Bowerman Advisory Board and three finalists will be named from the semifinalist group on Wednesday, July 13.

Claye and Taylor turned in an extraordinary back-and-forth battle at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the triple jump as Taylor would claim the NCAA Championship and Claye would finish as the runner-up.

Taylor’s winning jump, a wind-aided leap of 17.80m/58-4.75 is the all-time, all-conditions collegiate best mark, surpassing the 1985 wind-aided measure by Arkansas’ Mike Conley (17.72m/58-1.75). Claye recorded a wind-aided best of 17.62m/57-9.75, the third-best all-conditions jump in collegiate history. Taylor and Claye’s wind-legal marks of 17.40m/57-1 and 17.35m/56-11.25, respectively, moved the duo to the all-time top-five in collegiate history, trailing only SMU’s Keith Connor, Conley and Baptist’s Charlie Simpkins. Taylor and Claye are both in the world’s top-five performers list for the season.

For his accomplishments, Claye on Friday was named the USTFCCCA Men’s National Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year.

At the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships in Athens, Ga., Claye won both the long jump and triple jump titles, becoming the first athlete to accomplish that feat at the SEC Outdoor Championships since Leevan Sands of Auburn in 2004. At that meet, Booth’s athletes scored 37 of Florida’s 140 total team points.

Claye and Taylor finished 1-2 at the SEC Outdoor Championships with a series of impressive leaps. Claye claimed the SEC triple jump title with a wind-aided leap of 17.24m/56-6.75 (+2.2). Taylor finished second in the event, but because his best mark was wind-legal, he also set the SEC meet record and the Spec Towns Track record in the process with a jump of 17.15m/56-3.25 (+1.4).

Claye won the men’s long jump with a leap of 8.29m/27-2.50 (+1.9), while Taylor was fourth at 8.00m/26-3 (+0.5). Hammond was fifth overall in the high jump at the conference meet with a leap of 2.15m/7-0.50.

Claye was named the SEC Men’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year for his efforts.

The Bowerman, which debuted in 2009, is presented annually by the USTFCCCA to the top 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.