Pictured above: The Lady Vols won the NCAA title—and set a new world record—in the distance medley relay. Congratulations to Chanelle Price, Sarah Bowman, Brittany Jones, and Phoebe Wright!
Senior Sarah Bowman is used to track & field honors. The business major, who hails from Warrenton, Va., has been named SEC Female Runner of the Week three times already in 2009. She holds individual school records in the mile and 1500m. Carrying a 3.86 grade point average, she is a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, and she was the 2008 SEC Track & Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year, as well as the 2008 USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Indoor Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
The list goes on and on. Needless to day, Bowman is used to winning. But even she experienced something new at March’s 2009 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Bowman was not only a member of the Lady Vols 2009 National Championship team and the program’s first-ever NCAA winner of the mile run; she was also a member of the distance medley relay that set a new world record.
“It was amazing to be part of that team,” Bowman says. “The group of girls—we’re really close. We have a lot of faith in each other and our abilities as a team. We just support each other so much, and to get that accomplishment together felt great.”
Bowman describes the team as “a big family” and says her teammates are also her best friends. “We understand what each other is going through,” she explains, noting the Lady Vols’ demanding schedule. “During indoor season, we traveled almost every weekend. The travel is a lot to balance with everything. That’s where being part of a team helps—if you get stressed, you talk to each other and lean on each other.”
Having a great coach also helps. “It helps that he’s there for us in other aspects of our lives besides running and that he shows us such great support. Over my four years here, I’ve come to appreciate him more and more,” Bowman says of Lady Vols track & field coach J.J. Clark. “Under his leadership, the things people have accomplished—he does an awesome job.”
The 2009 championship is the second the Lady Vols have won with Clark’s guidance. The team also won the 2005 indoor national title under the two-time national coach of the year and 2008 U.S. Olympic Team women’s track & field assistant coach.
Clark was a key factor in Bowman’s decision to attend UT. “When I came for my visit, after meeting Coach Clark and the team, I thought it was a good fit for me,” she says. “Coach Clark is really well-known for his running program; he has lots of high accolades. I knew UT was where I wanted to be.”
Now that her days of NCAA competition are coming to an end, the 11-time SEC champ and nine-time All-American isn’t sure what the future holds for her after graduation in May—though she knows she’ll keep running. “I’m not set on a particular path,” she says. “I have my goals, but there are any number of ways to reach your goals. We’ll see where life takes me. Sometimes if you have every little thing scripted, it’s no fun.”
Pictured above right: Sarah Bowman outstretches Texas Tech’s Sally Kipyego at the finish line to win the mile by 3/100ths of a second.
All photos © Errol Anderson