Rooks named to Bowerman Watch List


NEW ORLEANS — BYU men’s steeplechaser Kenneth Rooks was named to the latest prestigious Bowerman Watch List, announced by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Thursday. The award is the sport's highest honor at the collegiate level, given annually to the most outstanding male and female NCAA track and field athletes.

The junior joins nine other NCAA Division I student-athletes on the watch list, including fellow newcomer Ryan Willie of Florida (sprints). Other distance runners named to the list include Tennessee's Dylan Jacobs and Fouad Messaoudi of Oklahoma State. With the accolade, Rooks becomes the third BYU men's track and field athlete ever named to the Bowerman Watch List since the award's inception in 2009, joining pole vaulter Zach McWhorter (2021) and former NCAA Champion Miles Batty (2011 & 2012).

The junior continues his 2023 world-leader status in the event following a historic, all-time great race at Sound Running Track Fest on May 6. His 8:17.62 3,000-meter steeplechase time marked the event's fastest American collegiate run in history. Across all nationalities, Rooks now ranks second in NCAA history to only Henry Rono of Washington State. Rono, a native Kenyan, ran 8:05.4 in 1978. Rooks also broke three-time Olympian Henry Marsh’s BYU school record 8:21.60 set in 1977.

Rooks faced and beat former U.S. Olympians Hillary Bor and Benard Keter in addition to professional runners from Hoka, New Balance and Under Armour.

Rooks majors in civil engineering at BYU and is just two years removed from a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rooks served in both Kampala, Uganda and, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in Orem, Utah. Twenty of Rooks’ distance teammates are also returned missionaries.

He will compete in the 3,000m steeplechase at the NCAA West Preliminary Meet, held May 24-27 at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California.


Bowerman Watch List | May 18
Mykolas AleknaDiscusCalifornia
Kyle Garland200mGeorgia
Sondre GuttormsenPole VaultPrinceton
Jaydon HibbertJumpsArkansas
Dylan JacobsDistanceTennessee
Fouad MessaoudiMid-DistanceOklahoma State
Ayden Owens-DelermeCombined Events/HurdlesArkansas
Kenneth RooksDistance/SteeplechaseBYU
Ryan WillieSprintsFlorida