FAYETTEVILLE – In recognition of her outstanding 2011 season, Tina Sutej has been named a finalist for The Bowerman, as announced Thursday by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) in conjunction with the Bowerman Advisory Board. Sutej, the 2011 NCAA indoor champion in the pole vault, is one of three finalists for the honor which is awarded each year to the top female collegiate athlete in NCAA track and field.
Sutej was originally placed on the watch list for The Bowerman in February and maintained her spot as the 10 semifinalists were selected June 21. The Ljubljana, Slovenia, native is the first Arkansas student-athlete to be named a finalist for The Bowerman. As part of the voting procedure, fans will have an opportunity to vote online Aug 1-16 at www.thebowerman.org.
With her latest selection, Sutej adds to her list of individual honors earned this season which include National Field Athlete of the Year, All-America and All-Southeastern Conference accolades, and SEC and South Central Region Field Athlete of the Year. She swept those awards for both the indoor and outdoor seasons, and during her 2011 campaign, was named the SEC Field Athlete of the Week on six occasions.
Sutej became the ninth national champion in program history with her victory at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March and set the NCAA record with her winning clearance of 14-10.75 (4.54m) at the SEC Indoor Championships in February. Her mark at the conference meet also set the Slovenian national record.
She carried her record-setting performances to the outdoor season where she set another NCAA record, this time clearing 15-1.5 (4.61m) at the SEC Outdoor Championships in May. Sutej became just the fourth woman in collegiate history to eclipse the 15-foot barrier, joining previous record holders Chelsea Johnson of UCLA (2006), Lacy Janson of Florida State (2006) and Jenn Stucynski of Roberts Wesleyan (2005).
During the course of the 2011 season, Sutej set meet records at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational (14-7.25/4.45m), SEC Indoor Championships (14-10.75/4.54m), Texas Relays (14-9/4.50m), Penn Relays (14-7.25/4.45m), SEC Outdoor Championships (15-1.5/4.61m) and NCAA Outdoor Championships (14-7.25/4.45m).
Prior to her second-place result at the national meet in June, Sutej held a 13-meet winning streak, dating back to the start of the indoor season. She cleared the winning height at the NCAA Championships but finished second on misses.
Joining Sutej on the list of finalists are Jessica Beard of Texas A&M and Kimberlyn Duncan of LSU. Sutej and Duncan are the first SEC finalists in award history on the women’s side. Finalists were chosen by the 10-person Bowerman Advisory Board based on performances recorded during the indoor and outdoor 2011 track and field seasons. Only performances through the conclusion of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships were used in consideration.
The award, in its third year of existence, will be presented Dec. 14 in a ceremony at the USTFCCCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas. The previous two winners on the women’s side are Jenny (Barringer) Simpson of Colorado in 2009 and Queen Harrison of Virginia Tech in 2010.