NEW ORLEANS, La. – Stephen F. Austin's Demi Payne has been selected as one of 10 semifinalists for the 2015 Bowerman Trophy, as announced on Tuesday afternoon by the Bowerman Watch List Committee.
The Bowerman Trophy, which was first awarded in 2009, is presented annually by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) to the most outstanding male and female collegiate track and field athletes in the nation.
Payne's selection as a semifinalist is the first for SFA and for any Southland Conference institution.
A native of New Braunfels, Texas, Payne showcased one of the best years in women's pole vault history in 2015, capped by a title at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene on June 11. She jumped 15-5 (4.70m) at the championship competition, shattering the meet record by nearly 10 inches to put an exclamation point on a record-setting year.
Payne broke five collegiate records overall in 2015, including her top mark of 15-7 (4.75m) during her senior indoor campaign. Classified as a junior in outdoor, Payne proceeded to collect seven of the 10 highest clearances in outdoor collegiate history while claiming more 15-foot bars (9) than anyone ever at the collegiate level. Her leap of 15-5.5 (4.71m) to win the Southland Conference title in May currently ranks number two on the all-time collegiate outdoor list and number six on the world list this year.
Payne won 13 times overall in 2015 and ended the outdoor season on a hot streak, finishing as the top collegiate performer in eight straight meets dating back to April 2. Her win at the NCAAs marked the first NCAA Division I title in any sport in SFA history.
Payne raked in the awards throughout the year, shining under the national spotlight. She was named a First Team All-American and a Regional Field Athlete of the Year by the USTFCCCA, was selected as a national finalist for the Honda Sports Award for track and field, swept both Indoor and Outdoor Southland Conference Field Athlete of the Year accolades and was picked as the top field athlete of the week 11 times by both conference and national outlets.
After first cracking the Bowerman Watch List on February 5, Payne has been a mainstay on the list throughout the year. Overall, she has appeared on six of seven watch lists in 2015.
Three finalists for the Bowerman will be announced on July 9 and the winner will be honored at a banquet in December.
Payne heads back to Eugene later this week to get ready for the USA Outdoor Championships. She will compete on Sunday for a spot on the national team that will travel to Beijing later this summer for the World Outdoor Championships. Payne won the indoor USA title in March.
Follow the official Twitter account of the team (@SFA_TFXC) for updates on Payne and the rest of the SFA squad.
2015 Bowerman Trophy Semifinalists
Dezerea Bryant, Kentucky*
Quanesha Burks, Alabama
Kendra Harrison, Kentucky*
Shamier Little, Texas A&M
Sandi Morris, Arkansas
Keturah Orji, Georgia
Demi Payne, Stephen F. Austin*
Jenna Prandini, Oregon
Emily Sisson, Providence*
Shelbi Vaughan, Texas A&M
* First women's Semifinalist(s) for school