DENVER, Colo. (Dec. 15, 2022) — University of Kentucky sprinter Abby Steiner has won The Bowerman — the most prestigious award in collegiate track and field — the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced Thursday night at its annual national awards ceremony in Denver.
Evaluation for The Bowerman takes both indoor and outdoor seasons into consideration to decide the best in men’s and women’s collegiate track & field. Having swept the 2022 USTFCCCA Women’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Year Award, the Women’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year Award and the Honda Sports Award for Track and Field, it is not surprising that she capped a golden year with The Bowerman. She was one of three finalists alongside Florida multi-event star Anna Hall and California hammer thrower Camryn Rodgers.
Steiner, who came to UK from Dublin, Ohio, is the first Wildcat athlete to win The Bowerman, which was first awarded in 2009. Two other Wildcats, Kendra Harrison and Sydney McLaughlin — both of whom were NCAA champions and future Olympic medalists — were finalists in 2015 and 2018, respectively.
Among the swiftest athletes on the planet, Steiner won three NCAA titles this year. Individually, she swept the 200-meter dash at the indoor and outdoor national championships, setting an American record and second-fastest mark in world history with a blazing 22.09 seconds in the indoor event. Then, in the outdoor 4x400 relay, she turned in one of the most amazing performances in collegiate track history. Taking the baton in the third leg, at least 25 meters behind in fourth place, she blew past the world-class competition and gave the baton — now approximately seven meters ahead — to Alexis Holmes, who took it to the finish for the Wildcat gold medal.
In addition to the indoor 200 record, Steiner also set the collegiate records for the outdoor 200 (21.80) and indoor 300 (35.80) and as part of the 4x400 relay, which ran 3:21.93 at this year’s Southeastern Conference Championships.
The statistic that best combines her versatility and amazing performances? She ran in 14 different events this year at the NCAA and SEC outdoor and indoor championship meets and earned a medal in all 14.
Also strong in the classroom, Steiner was both the SEC Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year after compiling a 3.802 grade-point average and earning a degree in kinesiology from UK College of Education. (Read more about Steiner's academic experience at UK here.) Having graduated summa cum laude in the spring, Steiner turned professional in the summer and immediately made her mark on the world stage. She won the 200 at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, moving on to the World Athletics Championships, where she helped earn two gold medals for the United States as part of the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. (The Bowerman is awarded for the collegiate indoor/outdoor seasons only and professional accomplishments are not considered.)
Last week, Steiner was named to the NCAA Today’s Top 10 list, which honors only 10 student-athletes from the 520,000 male and female student-athletes from all sports in NCAA Division I, Division II and Division III, for their combination of athletic prowess and academic achievement.
Listed below are more details on Steiner’s accomplishments.
Steiner's senior season and career
Steiner earned this honor through consistent collegiate and school record-breaking performances in the 2021-22 season.
During her career, she was a 15-time All-American featuring 11 first-team honors and a four-time SEC champion.
Most recently, Steiner earned her third and fourth NCAA titles in the 200m and 4x400m relay, alongside 100m bronze and 4x100m silver to score 34 of UK’s 50 points.
Her collegiate record-breaking win in the 200m (21.80) was her first outdoor national title. She ran a 48.92 leg on the 4x400m relay at NCAAs for her second gold of the meet. She also earned bronze in the 100m (11.08) after setting a personal best (10.90) and new school record in the semifinals.
At SEC Championships, Steiner ran in the collegiate record 4x400m relay alongside Karimah Davis, Dajour Miles and Holmes (3:21.93), running a 48.72 split. She also earned silver in both the 100m and 200m.
Shortly before SEC Championships, Steiner ran the then-third fastest outdoor 200m in collegiate history and second fastest in the NCAA during the 2022 season with a wind-legal 22.05 run at the Kentucky Invitational. It was also a school record, meaning Steiner's name is now tied to seven different program records.
She also played a part in the then-third fastest 4x400m of the collegiate season, with the group of Steiner, Holmes, Davis and Miles, clocking 3:25.79 for a school record in front of Big Blue Nation on UKTF's Senior Day.
In April, aside from her 22.05 run in the 200m at home, Steiner made history in the 100m in early April at the Joe May Invitational, running the then-fifth fastest 100m in collegiate history at 10.92 seconds, which is a school record she broke at NCAAs.
She also ran the fastest 200m in collegiate history with a headwind over 1.7 m/s when she ran 22.38 into a 5.6 m/s headwind at LSU. If wind was accounted for, it would have converted to 21.67.
To top off an excellent start to the outdoor season, Steiner ran the second leg in the current second-ranked 4x100m relay in the NCAA this season, helping the team to a time of 42.46.
Steiner closed her indoor season by defending her NCAA title in the 200-meter dash with a 22.16-second run Birmingham, Alabama. It was her second fastest 200m run of her career and second fastest in American history behind her own American-record mark.
It was also the fastest women's 200m in NCAA Championships meet history and broke the Birmingham CrossPlex facility record.
Steiner earned silver in the 60m with a school-record time of 7.10 at NCAA Indoor Championships, which was the highest Steiner has ever placed in the event on the NCAA stage, in addition to leading the 4x400m to a bronze medal.
Steiner cemented her name in American track and field history on Feb. 26 when she ran the fastest American indoor 200m ever and second fastest in world history at 22.09 seconds to earn the SEC gold. This was her third year in a row winning the 200m SEC gold medal and third time breaking the collegiate record.
She also broke the SEC Championships record, school record, meet record and Gilliam Indoor Stadium record at Texas A&M.
The previous fastest indoor 200m in American history was Gwen Torrence's 22.33 at the USA Championship in 1996.
The national champion is now .22 away from Jamaican Merlene Ottey's 21.87 indoor world record.
In the 2021-22 track and field season, Steiner earned the following accomplishments:
- 200m American and collegiate indoor record holder (22.09)
- 200m outdoor collegiate record holder (21.80)
- member of collegiate record outdoor 4x400m relay (3:21.93)
- NCAA outdoor 200m and 4x400m titles
- NCAA and SEC 200m title (indoors)
- NCAA silver and SEC bronze in the 60m
- NCAA bronze in 100m (11.08)
- NCAA 4x400m relay bronze (indoors)
- seventh fastest 100m runner in collegiate history
- SEC Indoor Track & Field Women's Runner of the Year
- SEC Indoor & Outdoor Scholar-Athlete of the Year
- USTFCCCA Women’s Track Athlete of the Year (indoor and outdoor)
- USTFCCCA Southeast Region Women's Indoor & Outdoor Runner of the Year
- four-time SEC Women's Runner of the Week
- five-time USTFCCCA Athlete of the Week
- seven-time school record holder (60m, 100m, indoor 200m, outdoor 200m, 300m, indoor 4x400m, outdoor 4x400m)
- Honda Sports Award Winner for Track and Field
In addition to her 200m gold at SECs, Steiner also won bronze in the 60m with a time of 7.19 and was a member of the bronze medal-winning 4x400m relay (3:25.89) that ran under the previous collegiate record.
At Clemson in February, Steiner broke the 200m collegiate record for the second time in her career and first time in the 2021-22 season when she ran 22.37 for an event win, gaining sole possession of the record she used to share with Olympian Gabby Thomas.
Steiner broke the collegiate record in the 200m for the first time at NCAA Championships in 2021 when she tied Thomas' then-collegiate record of 22.38 for her first national title.
As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.
In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.