NEW ORLEANS – Razorback junior Ayden Owens-Delerme was named as one of three finalists for The Bowerman award on Tuesday by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association along with Florida State’s Trey Cunningham and North Carolina A&T’s Randolph Ross, Jr.

“I was kind of expecting it, honestly, after the indoor and outdoor seasons I put together,” said Owens-Delerme. “I was on the watch list for nearly the whole year, and I was hoping I would be listed among the top three. To be on there with Trey and Randolph is some pretty elite company. I’m pretty excited about it.”

All three finalists for the men’s 2022 Bowerman award, collegiate track and field’s highest individual honor, claimed NCAA titles during the indoor and outdoor seasons in their respective events. Owens-Delerme won the heptathlon indoors and the decathlon outdoors, Cunningham claimed the 60m hurdles and 110m hurdles, and Ross swept the 400m titles.

“I’m so happy for Ayden and all the hard work he’s put in,” said Arkansas men’s head coach Chris Bucknam. “We’ve watched him compete all year and we’ve seen outstanding efforts and competitions. He’s had a lot of success and we’re really thrilled for him.

“What a great opportunity to be named to the list of three finalist amongst the best collegiate track and field athletes in the country. I’m proud of him along with coach Geopfert, and the hard work he’s put in as well. Those two really have great synergy. Now let’s get this Bowerman win!”

Owens-Delerme is the second Bowerman finalist from the Razorback men’s program, joining 2016 finalist and winner Jarrion Lawson.

Fan voting for The Bowerman begins Tuesday at 3 p.m. (CT) and closes on Thursday at 1 p.m. (CT) at the following link:

The season compiled by Owens-Delerme was simply outstanding. From the way he claimed the NCAA Indoor title in the heptathlon, to breaking the collegiate record in the decathlon, and winning the NCAA Outdoor decathlon title, it all combined for a spectacular display of his talents.

In addition, Owens-Delerme assisted on relays for the Razorbacks. Indoors, he split 45.46 on the third leg of an Arkansas school record of 3:03.18 in the 4 x 400 relay. Outdoors, Owens-Delerme ran third leg of the SEC silver medal 4 x 100 relay (39.24), which qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary rounds. He provided a 45.9 lead-off split in the 4 x 400 as the Razorbacks registered a season best of 3:03.95 to advance to the NCAA Championships.

“Ayden had a fantastic year and showed what a great competitor he is,” stated Arkansas associate head coach Travis Geopfert. “He did it in all types of settings, where he had to come from behind or when he had the lead after day one.

“Ayden was also a team player for us, running on relays and competing in individual events during the conference meets. Obviously, he is a well-rounded athlete and proved throughout the year he can be a great competitor in any situation.”

Through six events of the NCAA heptathlon, Owens-Delerme was stationed in fourth place with 5,241 points, trailing leader Kyle Garland of Georgia by 152 points with the 1,000m race remaining to complete the event.

Responding with a four-second career best of 2:31.55 for 970 points in the 1,000m, Owens-Delerme scored enough to win the heptathlon by 11 points with a final tally of 6,211 points over Garland’s 6,200.

Owens-Delerme, who was in fifth place after day one of the NCAA heptathlon, produced three career best marks on the second day and generated the fifth best performance on the all-time collegiate list.

With his career best score of 6,272 set in January, Owens-Delerme became just the second person to have a pair of marks among the top five performances on the all-time collegiate list as he joined Oregon’s Ashton Eaton.

In the process of breaking the wind-legal decathlon collegiate record while winning the Mt. SAC Relays, Owens-Delerme generated decathlon collegiate best marks in the 100m (10.27) and 400m (46.12) on the first day.

Needing another strong performance in the final event to achieve a milestone, Owens-Delerme covered the 1,500m in a career best of 4:13.17 to generate a record score of 8,528 points to better the previous collegiate record of 8,484 set by Georgia’s Karel Tilga in 2021. The previous best time for Owen-Delerme in the 1,500m had been 4:23.57 from 2021.

“Number one, it’s not easy to win both NCAA indoor and outdoor titles, and number two, is how he did it,” added Bucknam. “The fact that he came from so far behind going into the 1,000m, that was a phenomenal performance.

“I’ve been in track and field for 40 years as a coach and that effort has to be placed at the top of my list. That speaks to his character and competitiveness. Then outdoors, competing head-to-head with Garland, he tied the meet record held by Ashton Eaton. It was a phenomenal year.” 

During the NCAA decathlon, Owens-Delerme led the field in the 100m (10.41) and then capped the first day with another collegiate decathlon best of 46.10 in the 400m to hold the day one lead with a score of 4,490 points over 4,441 for Garland and 4,435 by Leo Neugebauer of Texas.

Leading the decathlon after each day two event except the pole vault had Owens-Delerme in a more comfortable situation when the last event arrived. As the overall leader, by a scant 11 points over Neugebauer and 37 over Garland, Owens-Delerme cruised to a 4:29.54 in the 1,500m to secure the victory.

His total of 8,457 points equaled the meet record set by Eaton and was equal to the No. 8 performance on the all-time collegiate list. The top three scores were the best-ever accomplished in NCAA history as Neugebauer finished second with 8,362 points, the No. 8 performer on the all-time collegiate list, with Garland third at 8,333.

“I think Ayden had a pair of defining moments,” noted Geopfert. “One was the dramatic finish to come from behind and really dig deep for a NCAA heptathlon title. That was one of the more dramatic one’s that I can remember in NCAA history.

“Then his consistent performance in the NCAA decathlon from start to finish. He did a great job and was in a unique situation where he didn’t have to go to the well in the 1,500m, but he showed he could do it both ways.”

The next endeavor for Owens-Delerme is competing in the decathlon, representing Puerto Rico, at the World Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon next month.

“My mom’s side of the family is all from Puerto Rico,” noted Owens-Delerme. “I’ve been visiting every summer, as often as I could, since I was a little boy. So, I’ve always had a strong connection.

“My grandparents were straight out of Puerto Rice, and wore the flag, culture, and heritage with pride. They instilled that in me and wanted me to carry that along. They recently passed, so I wanted to dedicate my career to them. I felt my impact could be greater if I represented a small country.”

With a population of 3-plus million in Puerto Rico, fan voting could have a distinct advantage for Owens-Delerme.

“That’s the thing about Puerto Rico, when it comes to an athlete who is successful and representing them on this level, they embrace them whole heartedly,” said Owens-Delerme. “It will mean a lot to put on those colors again for the first time since 2018 and go out there to fight for a medal. I know I’ll have my whole country supporting me and have my back.”

Bowerman voting process

The Bowerman voters will receive ballots listing each of the finalists and must rank them by first, second and third choice. First-place votes will receive three points, second place will notch two, and third will receive one point. The finalist with the highest point total will be declared the winner.

The Bowerman Voters consist of:

  • The Bowerman Advisory Board
  • Select media personnel, statisticians, and collegiate administrators
  • Past winners of The Bowerman
  • Online voting by the public will constitute one collective vote (ranking of choices will be made by order of total single votes)
  • Online voting by USTFCCCA members will constitute one collective vote (ranking of choices will be made by order of total single votes)

The online fan vote opened on Tuesday, June 28 at 3 pm CT.