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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Beard in race to win the Bowerman Award

 
 

The Bowerman Award, the track version of the Heisman trophy, narrowed its list of contenders to the final three, and A&M senior sprinter Jessica Beard made the cut.
Beard stands with LSU sophomore Kimberlyn Duncan and Arkansas junior Tina Sutej as the three finalists for the highest honor in collegiate track and field. The ten-person Bowerman Advisory Board chose its finalists based on their performances during the 2011 NCAA Division I indoor and outdoor track seasons. Beard’s selection makes her the second Aggie to receive women’s Bowerman finalist honors after Porsha Lucas was named a finalist in 2009. Beard said she worked diligently to rank among the best in the nation and is thankful to have that work noticed.
“Right now I’m just really speechless and humbled,” said Beard. “I’m just really grateful that all the work we’ve done this past year has been noticed and I have an opportunity to be a finalist for this outstanding award. I thank God, my family and friends, as well as the Texas A&M coaching staff and all the supporters of Aggie track and field.”
In her senior season, Beard swept the NCAA titles in the women’s 400-meters and anchored the A&M 4×400 relay teams that took gold in both indoors and outdoors. Beard’s performance made her the third female to accomplish the feat in NCAA Division I history. Beard also ran a world-leading 50.79 seconds in winning the 400 NCAA indoor title, breaking her own school record and ranking her second on the all-time NCAA list.
Beard came up big in tight spots all season; winning relays from the back of the pack, earning max individual points to help the Aggies win team titles and rewriting the records at A&M. When the Aggie women needed to win the 4×400– also the last race of the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships– for the third consecutive team title, Beard posted the fastest split in NCAA history to secure the victory. Beard’s determination to be the best was proven time and again on the track, but it was in practice where she made her move up the ranks. Head Coach Pat Henry praised Beard for her diligence and ability to outdo herself on the national stage.
“This honor is really special,” said Henry. “Being selected as the top three among thousands of collegiate athletes is a huge achievement and a big time honor for her. All of the people who watched the meet that day in person or on CBS saw what an impact person Jessica was for us in contributing to our winning the championship.”
Beard’s productive senior season also earned her honors as Texas A&M women’s Distinguished Letterman of the Year and A&M’s selection to represent the school in voting for Big 12 Athlete of the Year and NCAA Woman of the Year. She earned 25 total points the 2011 NCAA Championship meets to cap her career total at 76.25 at nationals. Perhaps the most impressive feat of her senior season was posting the fastest split in NCAA history while anchoring the winning women’s 4×400 relay.
Beard also dominated the field to take gold in the 400 before winning the title-clinching relay, but her productive senior season is no surprise. Since stepping on campus, Beard has earned seven consecutive gold medals in the 400 at the Big 12 Championships, preceded by a silver finish. Her career point total at the Big 12 Championships came to 127 points; 73 of those were earned indoors and 54 were earned outdoors. Beard also medaled seven out of eight times she contested for NCAA gold in the 400.
The Bowerman award will be presented in a ceremony at the USTFCCCA Convention December 14 at the JW Marriot Hill Country in San Antonio, Texas. Fans can vote for Jessica Beard beginning August 1 on the USTFCCCA website, www.ustfccca.org.

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