ORLANDO -- Jarrion Lawson is the men's winner of The Bowerman Award.
The former Arkansas standout won four NCAA titles in 2016, including a historic three at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. He is the first Razorback to win collegiate track & field's highest individual honor, which was handed out Friday night at the Orlando Grande Lakes Resort.
"It was like a relief feeling," Lawson said of hearing his name. "Actually, I was more nervous for the women's Bowerman than the men's Bowerman. I don't know why. That initial anticpiation of you don't know who the winner is and the men are second."
Lawson joins a prestigious fraternity of former male winners, headlined by two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time world record holder Ashton Eaton (2010). Galen Rupp (2009) and Derek Drouin (2013) also won two Olympic medals, while Deon Lendore (2014) captured bronze at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
What Lawson did at Historic Hayward Field in June was nothing short of remarkable. Lawson became the first man since Jesse Owens in 1936 to win the 100, 200 and long jump titles at the same NCAA meet. The Razorback star also ran a leg of the team's 4×100 relay (which finished 3rd) and in turn, shattered the modern-day scoring record.
Lawson faced tough competition for The Bowerman Award as Texas A&M's Donavan Brazier and Oregon's Edward Cheserek were also finalists. Brazier broke Jim Ryun's 50-year-old collegiate record in the 800 on its golden anniversary, while Cheserek - the first three-time finalist in the history of The Bowerman Award - won five NCAA titles (four individual, one relay) and was the first man to sweep the distance slate clean (3000-5000-DMR indoors, 5000-10000 outdoors) in seven years.
"I had confidence [that I'd win] just because I like to believe in myself," Lawson said. "That's where it all starts. When you believe in yourself before you can achieve something great. Just knowing what I did in the outdoor season and having four national championships this year, I feel like I performed well enough to win The Bowerman Award."
This is the third consecutive year that a male athlete from the SEC won The Bowerman Award. Lendore started the trend in 2014 and former Florida horizontal jumper and 2016 World Indoor gold medalist Marquis Dendy continued it last year. Dendy was there Friday night to hand off The Bowerman Award to Lawson.
"Just to see the trophy is one thing, but to be the winner of it - just like I said about it on stage - is a surreal experience," Lawson said. "This thing looks like it's made of all gold. It's heavy. It's definintely the biggest trophy that I've ever won. Just to add it to my awards is a big honor."