Rooks named Bowerman semifinalist


NEW ORLEANS — BYU men’s steeplechase national champion Kenneth Rooks was named a semifinalist for the Bowerman award, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced Thursday afternoon.

Named after revered former Oregon head coach Bill Bowerman, 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 since 2009.

Rooks is the first BYU men’s track and field athlete to be named among ten Bowerman semifinalists. He joins Stanford's Ky Robinson as one of two distance runners named.

Rooks captured the steeplechase national title with a time of 8:26.17, punctuating the BYU men’s 10th-place finish at the 2023 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Austin, Texas. The thrilling race came down to Rooks and Montana State’s Duncan Hamilton on the final laps, with Rooks separating before the final water jump to handily seize his first-ever national title at over six seconds ahead of runner-up Hamilton.

Rooks became the fourth BYU steeplechaser to win an individual championship and first BYU men’s athlete to claim an individual track and field title since Clayton Young in 2019.

The junior is now a three-time steeplechase All-American, claiming back-to-back First Team honors after a sixth-place performance at nationals last season. No Cougar has ever run the steeplechase faster than Rooks in the final round of the NCAA Championships - Rooks’ own 8:22.56, sixth-place finish at last year’s championships stands at the top, followed by his 8:26.17 title run this season.

During indoor season, Rooks earned First Team All-American honors as part of the DMR squad’s eighth-place, 9:39.45 finish at NCAA Indoor Nationals in Albuquerque, New Mexico March 10-11.

On May 6, Rooks became the fastest American collegiate athlete to run the steeplechase at 8:17.62 (later surpassed by Hamilton at 8:16.23). The run earned Rooks a spot on the Bowerman Watch List May 9.

Three finalists will be announced Tuesday, June 27 followed by online fan voting next Tuesday through Thursday, June 27-29. The winner will be announced in December.

Bowerman Semifinalists | June 22
Mykolas AleknaDiscusCalifornia
Kyle GarlandCombined EventsGeorgia
Jordan GeistThrowsArizona
Sondre GuttormsenPole VaultPrinceton
Jaydon HibbertJumpsArkansas
Courtney LindseySprintsTexas Tech
Carey McLeodJumpsArkansas
Leo NeugebauerCombined EventsTexas
Kenneth RooksDistance/SteepleBYU
Ky RobinsonDistanceStanford