July 14, 2011

NEW ORLEANS - Texas A&M senior sprinter Jessica Beard was named as one of three finalists for the The Bowerman, joining LSU sophomore sprinter Kimberlyn Duncan and Arkansas junior pole vaulter Tina Sutej.

The Bowerman Advisory Board in conjunction with the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Thursday the three women's finalists for the highest honor given to collegiate track and field student-athletes.

Finalists were chosen by the ten-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 Championships were used in consideration.

The Bowerman Award, in its third year of existence, will be presented in a ceremony at the USTFCCCA Convention on December 14 at the JW Marriott Hill Country in San Antonio, Texas. Fan voting will be held from August 1-16 through the USTFCCCA website: www.ustfccca.org.

"This honor is really special," noted Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry. "It's the track and field equivalent of the Heisman trophy. On the women's side this board selected Jessica as one of the top three collegiate track and field athletes in the country. Being selected as the top three among thousands of collegiate athletes is a huge achievement and a big time honor for her."

Beard becomes the second Aggie to be named a finalist for the women's Bowerman honor, joining Porscha Lucas, who was a 2009 finalist.

"Right now I'm just really speechless and humbled," said Beard. "I remember when Porscha was selected and now I have the honor of being one of the three finalists for the greatest award offered in collegiate track and field.

"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."

Honors bestowed upon Beard during her senior season included being named the Texas A&M women's Distinguished Letterman of the Year as well as one of four nominees for the Honda Sports Award in track and field. Beard is also Texas A&M's selection to represent the school in voting on the Big 12 Athlete of the Year as well as the NCAA Woman of the Year.

On the track Beard experienced a stellar senior campaign with the Aggies as she won her first individual NCAA titles in the 400 meters at both the indoor and outdoor national championships while anchoring A&M's 4 x 400 to relay gold at both meets. Beard became just the third female in NCAA Division I history, and the first since 1999, to accomplish that rare feat.

In winning the NCAA Indoor title, in front of a very supportive home crowd at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium, Beard recorded a world-leading time of 50.79 seconds to break her own school record of 51.64.

Threatening to break the collegiate indoor record, Beard's time ranks second on the all-time collegiate list and third fastest on the all-time American list behind the 50.54 American and collegiate record set by Fracena McCorory and a 50.64 by Diane Dixon.

In the 4 x 400 relay Beard moved the Aggies from fourth place to first place for a school record performance of 3:29.72. With a split of 51.09 seconds Beard passed LSU, Arkansas and Texas to secure the victory for the Aggies, who placed fifth overall in the team competition.

Beard claimed the NCAA Outdoor title in the 400, dominating the field with a 51.10 victory. Then she produced the fastest split in NCAA history with a time of 49.13 to move the Aggies from third to first place in setting another school record of 3:26.31 over a 3:26.46 by runner-up Auburn. The time for Texas A&M made them the third-fastest school ever while Auburn recorded the fastest time to ever place second in the NCAA final.

The relay win earned A&M the team championship by four points over Oregon, who placed third in the 4 x 400 with a 3:28.18. The team victory marked the third consecutive year for the Aggie women to win the NCAA Outdoor Championship.

"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," said Henry. "Jessica was a huge contributor in us winning three consecutive NCAA championships."

Beard scored a combined total of 25 points for the Aggies in the 2011 NCAA Championship meets while registering a career total of 76.25 points in the national championship meets throughout her A&M career. Beard medaled seven times among the eight NCAA 400 finals (indoor/outdoor) she contested. In addition to her two individual gold medals, Beard added three silvers, two bronzes and a fourth-place finish.

On the conference level Beard dominated with seven consecutive Big 12 titles in the 400 along with one silver medal and added a pair of runner-up finishes in the 200. She totaled 127 points in her career at the Big 12 Championships with 73 points during the indoor conference meet and 54 from the outdoor conference meet.