April 25, 2009
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- After Sarah Bowman helped Tennessee win three baton events and break 11 records along the way, including a world record in the 4x1500m relay Friday and an American record in the 4x800m event on Saturday, it was clear who would win the Women's Outstanding Relay Athlete Award at the 115th Penn Relays. Official word came via text message to Head Coach J.J. Clark Saturday evening as the team was on the plane, awaiting its flight back to Knoxville.
Bowman, the senior from Warrenton, Va., became the sixth Lady Vol to earn that prestigious honor, joining a hall of fame cast of characters who also thrilled the track-savvy masses at Franklin Field in their heyday. Previous UT winners include inaugural winner Brenda Webb in 1979, Benita Fitzgerald in 1982, Joetta Clark in 1984, LaVonna Martin in 1985 and Nicole Cook in 2004.
Thanks to the heart-breaking trio of runner-up finishes Bowman had to anchor in 2008, all three by a combined 2.69 seconds, there seemed to be a universal desire from everyone at the meet for the Lady Vol All-American to find redemption in 2009. Not that she needed to atone for anything, but the Lady Vol distance ace did her part to put the memory of those year-old, second-place showings in the distance medley, 4x1500m and 4x800m relays behind her.
On Saturday, the nine-time All-American and 11-time SEC champion clinched the award by running a 2:03.8 third leg on the Big Orange's victorious 4x800m relay. Her contribution helped that unit clock in at 8.17.91, which established a new American record. The readout also bettered the previous collegiate, meet, facility and school records and delivered UT its sixth 4x8 crown in Penn Relays annals. Joining her on the quartet were Kimarra McDonald, Chanelle Price and Phoebe Wright.
Friday, she anchored the Lady Vols to a world record in the 4x1500m event. She did so by overcoming a 15-meter deficit over her four laps and using a back-breaking kick over the final 200 meters to seize the victory from Georgetown. The time of 17:08.34 also toppled the old American, collegiate, meet, facility and school marks and gave Tennessee its first-ever meet triumph in that event. Carrying the stick with her was Price, Wright and senior Rolanda Bell.
It all began on Thursday with a win in the distance medley relay (DMR). Bowman played the anchor role again, this time nursing a comfortable lead provided by her teammates and holding on for a narrow win over Georgetown in 11:02.11. No records were broken, but the 2008 runner-up skid was snapped and the Big Orange walked away with its fourth Penn Relays DMR Championship of America. Assisting on this effort were Wright, McDonald and Price.
"Sarah being named athlete of the meet is a very special honor," UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "When I look at the names on that list, many of them are world class athletes and Olympians. She has worked very hard this year, and she is very deserving of it and it's great to see good things are happening for her."
Bowman ended her UT career at the Penn Relays with five baton event wins. In addition to her 2009 conquests, she earned victories in 2006 in the sprint medley relay and in 2007 in the DMR. She also owns runner-up outcomes in the 4x8 in 2006, 2007 and 2008 as well as the DMR and 4x1500m in 2008.