TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - With an amazing performance at the NCAA Division I Outdoor championships, Florida State's Ngoni Makusha placed his name alongside track and field icons Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens.
Makusha, in what proved to be his final meet for the Seminoles, won individual NCAA titles in the 100 meters (9.89) and long jump (27-6 ¾), and contributed a leg to FSU's gold medal 4x100 meter relay (38.77).
The Zimbabwe native's brilliant cap to an outstanding collegiate career earned him a spot among the three finalists for The Bowerman, the most prestigious award in college track & field, presented by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The award, named for legendary Oregon coach Bill Bowerman, has been presented to the top male and female track & field athlete since 2009.
"I can't really put words to it," Makusha said, after learning he was one of the three finalists. "It's amazing. It has been a great season for me, winning the ACC and setting the ACC record; going to the NCAA and setting the NCAA record. ...
"To be able to win The Bowerman award, it would mean the world to me. It's very important that I win the award for the program and individually. I'm very honored to be a finalist for The Bowerman and can't wait to see the final result."
Makusha became just the fourth man in NCAA Division I history to win both the 100 and long jump, joining Lewis, Owens and DeHart Hubbard. In the process, he smashed Ato Bolden's 1996 NCAA 100-meter record (9.92) with the world's sixth-fastest time in 2011. He also established a new Zimbabwe national record. Makusha's winning long jump effort ranks No. 6 all-time collegiately and is also a Zimbabwe national record.
In addition to his individual gold medal efforts, Makusha ran the second leg of the winning 4x100 relay. He accounted for 22.5 of Florida State's 54 points; just one point shy of delivering the Seminoles a third NCAA team title.
He is the first finalist for The Bowerman in Florida State history.
"This is unbelievably exciting," FSU coach Bob Braman said of Makusha's selection as a finalist. "This is the Heisman Trophy of our sport and he's one of three finalists to be honored as the track & field athlete of the year. We're real excited because it says a lot about our program and the outstanding student-athletes like Ngoni we have participating in it. This is a big deal."
After missing the 2010 seasons due to injury, Makusha made up for lost time. He won the first of four 2011 ACC championships indoors in the long jump (26-9) and followed up three weeks later with his first of four NCAA titles in the same event (26-8 ½). Outdoors he won the ACC long jump (25-4) and 100 (9.97) - setting a new conference record in the dash - and contributed a leg to the winning 4x100 relay as the Seminoles won the team title.
In 16 finals appearances in either the long jump, 100 or 4x100, Makusha never finished worse than second this past season, while scoring 13 victories.
Makusha chose to pass up his final year of eligibility to turn professional and will represent Zimbabwe later this year in the World Championships.
He is joined by fellow Bowerman finalists Jeshua Anderson (Washington State/hurdles) and Christian Taylor (Florida/jumps). The Bowerman will be presented December 14 at the USTFCCCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas following the tabulation of votes by members of the Bowerman Advisory Board, USTFCCCA members and the public, which will be able to vote online from August 1-16 at http://www.thebowerman.org/ .