From SFA Athletics
SAN ANTONIO, TX (Press Release)- Stephen F. Austin senior pole vaulter Demi Payne hopes to put the ultimate exclamation point on one of the best years in collegiate track and field history on Thursday night at the 2015 Bowerman Award Ceremony in San Antonio.
The Bowerman Trophy, collegiate track and field's most prestigious individual honor, will officially be revealed at the main event of the annual U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Convention, which begins at 7:00 p.m. The ceremony, hosted by ESPN's John Anderson, will be broadcast live on USTFCCCA.org beginning with the Red Carpet Show at 6:30 p.m.
Payne, the first ever Southland Conference representative at the event for either gender, was announced as a finalist for the award back in July. She joins Oregon's Jenna Prandini and Kentucky's Kendra Harrison as the three women's contenders.
"The Bowerman Award is the pinnacle of collegiate track and field success," said SFA head coach Phil Olson. "For Demi's name to be put with these other two talented, young women is very special. Last year was such an amazing year for Demi - almost like a fairytale. She has meant so much to this program, this university, the Southland Conference and the entire pole vault community. We're just going to have fun on Thursday night and really enjoy the moment. We're so proud of her no matter the outcome."
If her name is called on Thursday night, Payne would become the first ever female winner from a school outside of the Power Five conferences. She would also be the only field event winner since the award was first presented in 2009.
A product of New Braunfels, Texas, Payne already took one step closer to history by winning the Fan Vote portion of the selection process in August.
"Honestly, I feel like I've already won just being a finalist," said Payne. "It's so cool. Only a handful of track athletes have ever gotten to experience this and I get to say that I have. I'm so pumped. I can't wait.
"Winning the Bowerman Fan Vote was so awesome. Being from a non-power school like SFA and to win over girls from Oregon and Kentucky is big time. It shows me that East Texas has my back and I'm so thankful for that."
Payne won 13 individual pole vault titles and broke five collegiate records during her first season at SFA, including the current national indoor standard of 15-7 (4.75m), which she set on Jan. 24 in New Mexico. She capped an incredible indoor season by winning a USATF national title in Boston on March 1.
In June, Payne became SFA's first NCAA Division I National Champion when she outlasted Arkansas' Sandi Morris in the women's pole vault final at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon. From there she placed third at the USA Championships to qualify for the World Championships in Beijing as a member of Team USA.
"If I was somehow able to pull this off I think that it would mean a lot," said Payne. "The Bowerman is a big deal. It's like the Heisman Trophy of collegiate track and field. If I were fortunate enough to win, it would be the coolest thing in the world I think. I'm just really excited for Thursday night."