Bowen Departs For Nationals
ALBANY, N.Y. – For the first time since pole vaulter Luke Schoen in 2009, the University at Albany will have a representative at the NCAA Division I National Championships, to be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 14 and 15. Junior high jumper Alexander Bowen has recorded the 13th best result in his event to earn a berth into the 16-competitor championship field. The high jump will be contested on Friday, March 14 at 4:00 p.m. Mountain Time (6:00 p.m. Eastern).
“I’m a little anxious,” Bowen admitted. “This is my first indoor meet, but mentally I’m ready. I’ve had a lighter week of practice this week, allowing me to recover and be fresh for the competition. Now, I just have to trust my training.”
“Alex had Monday off, after IC4A’s,” said Director of Track & Field and Cross Country Roberto Vives. “He had a workout Tuesday, he’ll travel and have a short practice at the facility on Wednesday, easy pre-meet work on Thursday, and then compete on Friday.” Vives will depart for the facility on Thursday.
“Alex is mentally and physically ready,” said assistant coach Todd Wolin, who works with the jumpers, and will travel with Bowen on Wednesday. “He’s rounding into form at just the right time.”
Arizona senior Nick Ross is the top overall seed, having recorded a mark of 7’-7” back in January at the Cherry and Silver Invitational at the same facility where nationals will be held this weekend. Florida State’s James Harris, also a senior, is the second seed on a 7’-5.25” mark, which also came at the Cherry and Silver Invitational. Harris shares a mark with Mississippi State senior Marcus Jackson, who is third based on his next highest height cleared. Pennsylvania senior Maalik Reynolds and Cornell senior Montez Blair, who was the top seed at IC4A’s last weekend, are fourth and fifth, each jumping 7’-4.25”.
The next four seeds each have recorded a mark of 7’-3.75”. Two Texas Tech jumpers, junior Jacorian Duffield and sophomore Bradley Adkins are seeded sixth and seventh. Iowa State junior Cameron Ostrowski is eighth and Kennesaw State junior Andre Dorsey is ninth. The next three competitors each have a mark of 7’-3”. Arkansas senior Anthony May is 10th, St. Peter’s senior Isaiah Harris is 11th, and Duke senior Tanner Anderson is 12th.
Bowen leads the final group of athletes with marks of 7’-2.5”. Manhattan senior Mohamed Koita is 14th, Lipscomb junior Gemikal Prude is 15th, and Penn State senior Jon Hendershot rounds out the competitor list in 16th.
Bowen’s most recent meet was IC4A Championships in Boston, at Boston University’s Track & Tennis Center. It was his second consecutive weekend competing at the facility, having made the trip two weeks ago to the BU Last Chance Meet for one final opportunity to bolster his national seed.
“I don’t really like BU’s surface,” said Bowen. “The infield is hard. It doesn’t really give me anything back. But I feel like I’m in a good spot if I can jump as well as I did on a surface I don’t like that much.”
“BU is Alex’s least favorite facility,” said Wolin. “And he just missed the school record on Saturday.”
“Alex struggled a little bit early on, with the early heights,” said Vives. “That is unusual for him because he is usually very clean early, clearing most of his heights on his first attempt. But he told me he feels good going into nationals.”
But competing at BU served at least one purpose. Each of the top seven seeds at the IC4A’s are in the national field. And although Bowen has competed against many of them in the past, at one time or another, he was able to briefly scout the competition he’ll see on Friday.
“It certainly gives me some confidence, seeing my competition up close, and knowing where I am, and how it compares to where they are, what they look like,” said Bowen.
“Alex doesn’t let others bother him,” said Wolin. “He has a lot of experience as these big meets. He’s competed at Mt. Sac, outdoor nationals, Millrose. He’s gotten used to it by now. And he knows to do his own thing.”
“The way I see it,” Wolin added, “about half of the jumpers in the field could win the event on any given day. The others probably don’t have a shot, because they had to jump a personal best just to qualify. But Alex is one who, if things fall into place, could end up winning. At big meets like this, it’s not always about the height you clear, but about the misses you have. And Alex is usually very good at clearing heights on first attempts. So it’s about being clean early, and taking as few jumps as possible.”
“Alex is a big meet performer, and will perform up to the competition he’s facing,” said Vives. “He gets stronger as the meet goes on.”
One competitor of note in the field is Cornell’s Blair, who is a regular competitor of Bowen’s.
“We talk back and forth almost every day,” Bowen said. “I’d say it’s a real friendly rivalry. There’s some trash talk here and there but we’re very encouraging of each other. And there’s that whole thing of seeing who the best jumper in New York is.”
Bowen holds the UAlbany indoor and outdoor school records in the high jump. Both marks are 7’-3.25”. His experience at big meets in the past will help him prepare for what lies ahead up to and including Friday, as nationals can now be his sole focus.
“Wednesday we’re heading right to the facility from the airport,” Bowen said, “and I’ll do a few quick run-throughs, maybe some pops, just to get a feel for the surface. I know I have to stay clean on Friday, carry my speed, and keep my legs strong. But my training has set me up to do well. I know it can happen.”
“Alex is really looking to represent himself, and his team well at the meet,” said Vives.
“He knows what needs to be done. He needs a good approach, good speed. But I’m proud of him no matter what,” said Wolin.
ESPN3 will stream the meet live on March 14 starting at 7:55 p.m. Eastern and March 15 starting at 7:50 p.m. Eastern. A tape delay of the championship will air Saturday, March 22 starting at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPNU.