VIDEO: Jarrion Lawson wins The Bowerman, track's Heisman

By: Bob Holt
Published: Friday, December 16, 2016
Jarrion Lawson, left, and Courtney Okolo pose with their Bowerman Awards during a banquet Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.
Photo by Craig Macaluso
Jarrion Lawson, left, and Courtney Okolo pose with their Bowerman Awards during a banquet Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.

Former Arkansas track and field star Jarrion Lawson is confident enough he wants to continue training with the Razorbacks' coaches and athletes that he bought a house in Fayetteville about a month ago.

Lawson — a six-time NCAA champion and 19-time All-American at Arkansas —said his trophies and plaques are on display at his parents' house in Texarkana, Texas.

"I need to get some stuff up here so my house won't be so empty," Lawson said earlier this week. "It looks like I haven't achieved anything."

Lawson has a nice new 35-pound trophy to show off in his new house.

It's the biggest one he could win as a Razorback.

Lawson was announced as the men's Bowerman Award winner Friday night at a banquet in Orlando, Fla.

The award — named for Bill Bowerman, the former Oregon coach who co-founded Nike with Phil Knight — is presented to the top track and field collegiate athlete for the indoor and outdoor seasons.

Lawson became Arkansas' first winner of the Bowerman Award since it was created in 2009. The other male finalists were Oregon junior distance runner Edward Cheserek and Texas A&M freshman middle distance runner Donavan Brazier.

Lawson and female winner Courtney Okolo of Texas were selected in a vote by a panel of coaches, administrators, statisticians and media members, as well as every previous Bowerman Award winner.

"I thought I was a little strong until I held the trophy," Lawson said in his acceptance speech. "First I want to thank God for making all this possible. I want to thank my family — point of emphasis on my parents. Wherever I go, they make sure they're there with me."

Lawson also also thanked Arkansas' staff — Coach Chris Bucknam and assistants Doug Case and Travis Geopfert — for "giving me the components I need to be successful on and off the track" during his college career.

"Last, but not least, I'd like to thank the University of Arkansas for giving me a chance to showcase my talent in the SEC and on the NCAA level," Lawson said.

Lawson said he first became aware of the Bowerman Award when he saw the trophy on display in Eugene, Ore., at the NCAA outdoor meet in 2013, his freshman year.

"In my mind, I thought, 'Well, that's not obtainable right now. I need to get my talent up,'" Lawson said. "So it's surreal to me to be a winner of this award."

Lawson won four national titles as a senior in 2016, including the 100 and 200 meters, and long jump at the NCAA outdoor meet.

The only other athlete to win those three events at the same NCAA meet was legendary Jesse Owens in 1936 when he competed for Ohio State. Later that year Owens won four Olympic gold medals.

Lawson also ran on Arkansas' third-place 400-meter relay team at the NCAA outdoor meet and won the long jump and finished fifth in the 60 meters indoors.

"We're all as proud as we can be of Jarrion and his season and the way he's conducted himself over his four years at Arkansas," said Case, who coaches the sprinters. "Not only athletically, but as a person, as a student-athlete.

"He's the total package."

Lawson told FloTrack in an interview Friday night his favorite event at this year's NCAA outdoor meet was the 200.

"I have to go with the 200 because that was the one that topped everything off," Lawson said. "With the modern day schedule where everything's 30 or 45 minutes apart, I'm in the blocks in the 200 and I'm tired and I'm trying to catch my breath and relax and get ready for the gun.

"That was my favorite one just because I had to show a lot of perseverance in that race. It was the icing on the cake."

Bucknam praised Lawson and his family along with Case and Geopfert — who coaches field events — for the Bowerman Award victory.

"All the credit goes to Jarrion, his mom and dad, the kind of guy he is and the great collaboration of Coach Case and Coach Geopfert working together to help get him to that point," Bucknam said. "It was a collaboration with those two coaches. There were no egos involved.

"Those guys did everything they could to help him succeed individually and put a ton of points on the board for us."

Bucknam said six months after Lawson's performance at the NCAA outdoor meet offers time for perspective.

"At the meet, you're caught up in the moment," Bucknam said. "You're watching individuals compete in their respective events. All you're thinking about is trying to win a team title.

"Then you look back at it and you realize how really phenomenal that performance was by Jarrion."

Lawson, who finished fourth in the long jump at the Olympics last summer in Rio de Janiero and now competes professionally with Asics as his sponsor, said he saw no reason to move from Fayetteville after graduating from Arkansas.

"I think right now everything is working perfectly for me," Lawson said. "I didn't see any reason to break up the pattern I've already established here."

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