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Dec. 15, 2011
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Ngoni Makusha capped his Florida State track & field career with an NCAA Championship performance to remember in June.
Wednesday night he added to those memories, collecting The Bowerman Award, presented to the nation's top collegiate track & field athlete in the country. Makusha was presented the trophy - named after legendary Oregon coach Bill Bowerman - by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) at last night's banquet, held at the JW Marriott Hill Country.
"This is awesome," Makusha said in his heart-felt acceptance speech. "Never in my life did I think I would be standing in front of great people. ... If I didn't get this opportunity, my life would be very different in Zimbabwe."
Makusha turned in one of the greatest performances in NCAA Championship history at Drake University, winning the 100-meter dash in an NCAA-record time of 9.89 seconds, while adding long jump and 4x100 relay championship performances to his haul. His winning long jump of 8.40 meters (27-6 ¾) was the second-longest effort in the world at the time and the best jump in 18 years at the NCAA championship meet. Both the 100 and long jump standards established new national records for the Zimbabwe native. He closed out his spectacular NCAA performance by teaming with Kemar Hyman, Maurice Mitchell and Brandon Byram as the Seminoles captured the 4x100 relay in 38.77.
With a direct hand in 30 of Florida State's 54 points, Makusha very nearly delivered Florida State its third NCAA team championship in six seasons. The runner-up Seminoles came up one point shy of denying Texas A&M its third consecutive championship.
"When you talk about the quality - you've got the collegiate record and a world class long jump, and a 4x100 that beat four of the finest teams in NCAA history - in terms of quality and championships, it's the best performance I've ever seen," said Florida State head coach Bob Braman.
"This is a tremendous honor. People who follow the Heisman Trophy understand the significance of being the top athlete in your sport. It's a tremendous honor for Florida State, presented to a guy that is spoken of in the same breath as Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens."
Makusha is just the fourth man in NCAA history to win both the 100 and long jump titles at the championship meet, joining Owens, Lewis and DeHart Hubbard.
Among the many honors the soft-spoken Makusha earned as a result of his dynamic junior season, were USTFCCCA NCAA Division I National Men's Track Athlete of the Year, the Atlantic Coast Conference Male Athlete of the Year and the ACC Men's Outdoor Field Performer of the Year.
In August, Makusha put a cap on his remarkable season with a bronze medal in the long jump at the World Championships in Daegu, Korea.
He celebrated Wednesday's triumphant night with his parents - Rhoda and Andrew Makusha - who traveled halfway around the globe on their first airline flight to attend. Florida State assistants Ken Harnden and Dennis Nobles, who coached Makusha in the sprints and jumps, respectively, were on hand for the affair along with Braman.
Makusha, who will graduate from Florida State this weekend with his degree in economics, made a point to thank his parents and his coaches individually for their contributions to his development. He also thanked all of the coaches in attendance for providing a system that allows student-athletes to better themselves.
In capturing The Bowerman, Makusha was selected by a distinguished panel of voters over Florida's Christian Taylor and Washington State's Jeshua Anderson. He also won the online fan balloting in the fall, claiming 42 percent of the votes.
The Bowerman, which debuted in 2009, is presented annually by the USTFCCCA to the most outstanding male and female collegiate track & field athletes in the nation. It is named for legendary Oregon track & field and cross country coach. Bowerman served the sport of track & field in numerous ways. His leadership in the USTFCCCA's predecessor organization, the National Collegiate Track Coaches Association, and his contributions to NCAA track & field and the running community as a whole are among his many lasting legacies. Previous winners include: 2010 - Ashton Eaton (Oregon) and Queen Harrison (Virginia Tech); 2009 - Galen Rupp (Oregon) and Jenny Barringer (Colorado).