South Dakota junior Chris Nilsen repeats as a semifinalist for The Bowerman as announced last week by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
The Bowerman, dubbed the Heisman of collegiate track and field, is presented annually to the most outstanding male and female in the nation. The award debuted in 2009 and winners are announced at a ceremony in mid-December in conjunction with the USTFCCCA annual convention.
Nilsen captured his third NCAA Championship title in the pole vault in record-breaking fashion last week. The defending champion bested the world leader on the collegiate scene’s biggest stage by vaulting a lifetime best of 19 feet, 6 ¼ inches (5.95m). The height broke his own NCAA Championship meet record, moves Nilsen to third all-time in NCAA history and ranks No. 25 on the IAAF’s world record books.
A native of Kansas City and a Park Hill graduate, Nilsen ranks No. 1 in the United States and No. 2 in the world this year.
The junior pole vaulter has also found consistency over the new Olympic standard, vaulting past 19 feet five times this spring (Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, Beach Invitational, Drake Relays, Summit League Championships, NCAA Championships). He has 11 jumps over 19 feet in his career. Nilsen went undefeated in all 10 outdoor meets, while also winning seven indoor meets in 2019.
Nilsen is a three-time NCAA Champion and boasts six All-America accolades — with all six finishes placing him third or higher in the competition. The junior’s three national titles (two outdoor, one indoor) ties for sixth in the NCAA’s 98-year history of pole vault.