Ackelia Smith, the Jamaican rising star of the Texas women’s track and field team, has been named to the Bowerman Preseason Watch List, marking her third career nomination, the USTFCCCA announced. Joining her in the spotlight is senior Leo Neugebauer of the men’s team, a 2023 finalist for the esteemed accolade.
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Smith’s prolific achievements include a 2023 NCAA Outdoor long jump title, soaring to the second-best mark in collegiate history at 7.08m (23-2.75). Her exceptional prowess was further demonstrated with a runner-up finish in the triple jump, recording a distance of 14.54m (47-8.5), the No. 2 jump in collegiate history.
During the indoor season, the Jamaican native continued to impress, matching the No. 6 jump in indoor long jump history and securing the No. 5 spot in triple jump history. Smith’s consistent performances have made her a seven-time All-American and a key athlete to watch in the upcoming seasons.
“The Bowerman is presented annually by the USTFCCCA to the most outstanding male and female athletes in the NCAA and NAIA,” noted the USTFCCCA. The anticipation for the next women’s Watch List, scheduled for February 7, is already building.
Leo Neugebauer Named to the Bowerman Preseason Watch List
On the men’s side, Neugebauer, a titan in the decathlon, etched his name into the record books with an NCAA record-breaking score of 8,836 points, a feat that also shattered the NCAA Outdoor Championships record, the school record, and the 39-year German National Record. This score positions him as the holder of the eighth-best performance in world history.
The six-time All-American now holds both the pentathlon and heptathlon records for Texas, surpassing Olympic great Trey Hardee. Neugebauer’s bronze medal at the NCAA Indoor Championships and record-setting decathlon score at the Texas Relays have solidified his status as a formidable athlete.
His outstanding season garnered him the USTFCCCA Male Field Performer of the Year title and the distinction of being the only male finalist for the Bowerman in Longhorns’ history.
With such distinguished achievements, both Smith and Neugebauer are athletes to watch as the track and field season unfolds, carrying the expectations of their Jamaican and Texan fans, respectively.
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