American sprinter Britton Wilson, a finalist for the prestigious Bowerman Award, sees the opportunity not only as a chance for personal recognition but also as a means to overcome the disappointment of not winning the 400m/400m hurdles double or either of the two events at the NCAA Outdoor National Championships in Texas last June.

The award that will be presented later today, Thursday, December 14 is named after legendary Oregon track and field coach Bill Bowerman and stands as the highest honor bestowed upon the year's best student-athlete in American collegiate track and field. 

Wilson, who is among the six finalists for the award, expressed her excitement about the possibility of a University of Arkansas sweep, particularly alongside her close friend and fellow athlete, Jaydon Hibbert.

"Yeah, I'm super excited and definitely even more excited that I'm there with Jayden. Me and Jayden have a really great relationship, so we become super close, so besties. So it's really exciting to get to be there with someone that's like one of my best friends and the fact that both the men's staff and the women's staff are all going to be there," Wilson remarked.

The American sprinter emphasized the camaraderie and positive attitude both she and Hibbert share, regardless of the final outcome. "So the environment's going to be really exciting...we're not going to be upset either way because we're both just like so happy and blessed to be there anyway and just to have this experience."

Reflecting on the setbacks she faced, Wilson discussed the impact of injuries on her mental state during the season. "The injury definitely was a little, a little bit of a bummer on like my attitude towards the future. It definitely made things a lot more mentally challenging, but other than that I think the season was really great and I have so many positive memories."

Detailing the severity of her injuries, Wilson explained, "It was both shins. My right one was a Grade 2 stress fracture, and my left one was a Grade 4 stress fracture."

Wilson who had been dominant in both 400m and 400m hurdles all season, attempted a feat no one had managed to accomplish before – win the 400m and 400m hurdles at an NCAA championship. Both events were 25 minutes apart.

Running with stress fractures in both shins, Wilson finished second in the 400m well behind fellow Bowerman finalist Rhasidat Adeleke, who ran 49.20, just missing Wilson’s NCAA record of 49.13. Wilson was well behind in second in 49.64. To add to the disappointment of not winning the flat-four, Wilson was a distant seventh in the 400m hurdles in 55.92, much slower than the 54.67 she ran in the preliminary round.

When asked if winning the Bowerman Award could make up for the disappointment of missing out on the historic double at the championships, Wilson shared her emotional journey.

"I actually was very, very, very heartbroken after the Nationals because I've done the double so many times. And doing that double has become really easy to me. And people think it sounds kind of crazy when I say that, but it feels really easy and I like enjoy doing it. So I was really just excited to do it at Nationals and get the chance to be the first person to do it," Wilson explained.


"But everything just kind of wasn't in my favor. The injury was worse. Mentally, I wasn't there. And so it was really heartbreaking because in my heart, I knew I could do it, but it just didn't happen that day," she continued.

Despite the setbacks, Wilson expressed gratitude for being a Bowerman finalist and believes winning the award could be a significant redemption. "Just being a finalist has meant a lot to me. And I think if I were to win it, it would definitely make up for all the little heartbreaks that I had from that Nationals race 'cause it was really hard on me."

As the anticipation builds for the 2023 Bowerman Award ceremony, NCAA champion Jaydon Hibbert from the University of Arkansas opens up about the possibility of achieving a historic sweep alongside his fellow Razorback, Britton Wilson. If successful, this duo could make Arkansas the first university to accomplish such a feat since the inception of the prestigious awards in 2009.

However, they are up against formidable finalists Florida's Kyle Garland and Texas' Leo Neugebauer as well as Julien Alfred of Texas and Jasmine Moore of Florida.

The Bowerman Award, named after legendary Oregon track and field coach Bill Bowerman, stands as the highest honor bestowed upon the year's best student-athlete in American collegiate track and field. Administered by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), the winners are traditionally revealed in a mid-December ceremony during the USTFCCCA annual convention.

Hibbert, who was a favorite to secure the gold medal at the World Championships in Budapest, faced a setback with a hamstring injury on his opening jump in the final. Despite the disappointment, experiences like these keep him grounded even after a remarkable season of success.

His stellar achievements in the 2023 season include victories at NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Nationals, being named SEC and National Field Athlete, and setting the world lead with a jump of 17.87m. Despite facing a second-place finish in his Diamond League debut in Monaco in July, Hibbert's focus remains on the bigger picture.


"I'm super excited to see your ceremonies about having fun, dressed up and all that. But the main aim is just representing my school and country. As I said one time when my media team was doing a video and asked about my dream for this Bowerman, I said that Britton and I should win because that would be so good for my school," shared Hibbert.

Expressing his dream of a clean sweep for both him and Wilson, Hibbert acknowledges the rarity of such an accomplishment. "Like I doubt they ever had a clean sweep. But I pray every day. I say ‘okay, me and Bri are gonna go there, gonna have fun and whatever the results may be, even if we don't sweep or if we do, or whatever, they're gonna have fun. But it's my dream for both of us this week."

While both Texas and Arkansas have previously secured Bowerman Awards in the men's and women's categories, respectively, no school has claimed both titles in the same year.

Reflecting on the setback in Budapest, Hibbert emphasizes the importance of staying humble and grounded in the unpredictable world of sports. "Well, things like what happened at Budapest help me to stay grounded because, you know, it happens to the best of the best. Anything can happen. It's a sport; your body's your business and stuff like that. So most times, I wouldn't say I'm pessimistic, but sometimes I think about the worst too much than the good, and I also prepare for the worst."

He underscores the role of humility in his success, emphasizing its impact not only in his attitude but also in the meticulous preparation required for high-level competition. "Humility takes you far away, like you know what God is, He can also take you. So I think that's one of the things that really pivoted my success. Not just humility, but overall with your body and thinking about the jump and all of that, it's a lot that goes on. So just stay humble and stuff really keeps me in my zone and together."

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