December 14, 2011 - by
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Dec. 14, 2011

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Watch the Complete Acceptance Speech

By Bob Thomas,


Ngoni Makusha capped his Florida State track & field career with an NCAA Championship performance to remember in June.

Wednesday night he added to those memories, collecting The Bowerman Award, presented to the nation’s top collegiate track & field athlete in the country. Makusha was presented the trophy – named after legendary Oregon coach Bill Bowerman – by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) at last night’s banquet, held at the JW Marriott Hill Country.

“This is awesome,” Makusha said in his heart-felt acceptance speech. “Never in my life did I think I would be standing in front of great people. … If I didn’t get this opportunity, my life would be very different in Zimbabwe.”

Makusha turned in one of the greatest performances in NCAA Championship history at Drake University, winning the 100-meter dash in an NCAA-record time of 9.89 seconds, while adding long jump and 4×100 relay championship performances to his haul. His winning long jump of 8.40 meters (27-6 ¾) was the second-longest effort in the world at the time and the best jump in 18 years at the NCAA championship meet. Both the 100 and long jump standards established new national records for the Zimbabwe native. He closed out his spectacular NCAA performance by teaming with Kemar Hyman, Maurice Mitchell and Brandon Byramas the Seminoles captured the 4×100 relay in 38.77.

With a direct hand in 30 of Florida State’s 54 points, Makusha very nearly delivered Florida State its third NCAA team championship in six seasons. The runner-up Seminoles came up one point shy of denying Texas A&M its third consecutive championship.

“When you talk about the quality – you’ve got the collegiate record and a world class long jump, and a 4×100 that beat four of the finest teams in NCAA history – in terms of quality and championships, it’s the best performance I’ve ever seen,” said Florida State head coach Bob Braman.

“This is a tremendous honor. People who follow the Heisman Trophy understand the significance of being the top athlete in your sport. It’s a tremendous honor for Florida State, presented to a guy that is spoken of in the same breath as Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens.”

Makusha is just the fourth man in NCAA history to win both the 100 and long jump titles at the championship meet, joining Owens, Lewis and DeHart Hubbard.

Among the many honors the soft-spoken Makusha earned as a result of his dynamic junior season, were USTFCCCA NCAA Division I National Men’s Track Athlete of the Year, the Atlantic Coast Conference Male Athlete of the Year and the ACC Men’s Outdoor Field Performer of the Year.

In August, Makusha put a cap on his remarkable season with a bronze medal in the long jump at the World Championships in Daegu, Korea.

He celebrated Wednesday’s triumphant night with his parents – Rhoda and Andrew Makusha – who traveled halfway around the globe on their first airline flight to attend. Florida State assistants Ken Harnden and Dennis Nobles, who coached Makusha in the sprints and jumps, respectively, were on hand for the affair along with Braman.

Makusha, who will graduate from Florida State this weekend with his degree in economics, made a point to thank his parents and his coaches individually for their contributions to his development. He also thanked all of the coaches in attendance for providing a system that allows student-athletes to better themselves.

In capturing The Bowerman, Makusha was selected by a distinguished panel of voters over Florida’s Christian Taylor and Washington State’s Jeshua Anderson. He also won the online fan balloting in the fall, claiming 42 percent of the votes.

The Bowerman, which debuted in 2009, is presented annually by the USTFCCCA to the most outstanding male and female collegiate track & field athletes in the nation. It is named for legendary Oregon track & field and cross country coach. Bowerman served the sport of track & field in numerous ways. His leadership in the USTFCCCA’s predecessor organization, the National Collegiate Track Coaches Association, and his contributions to NCAA track & field and the running community as a whole are among his many lasting legacies. Previous winners include: 2010 – Ashton Eaton (Oregon) and Queen Harrison (Virginia Tech); 2009 – Galen Rupp (Oregon) and Jenny Barringer (Colorado).


Ken Harnden, FSU Director of Sprints, Hurdles & Relays (and fellow Zimbabwean)

“To see a young man grow up like he did – it’s doubly special for me, because of where he came from. This is an uplifting event. Everything he’s done in his career was done in the right way. What everyone saw him do this year, was just a small part in his life to get to this point.”

“He overcame so many great odds to get here, it makes me overjoyed.”

“It’s such an honor for me to have helped somebody from my country.”

Dennis Nobles, FSU Jumps & Multis coach

“He’s an impressive young man.”

“It’s remarkably rewarding. People get what they deserve. … I’ve worked with Ngoni every day for four years now and every day most of my job is trying to hold him back from over-working. He’s worked very hard in the classroom and will graduate this weekend.”

“It’s very satisfying and gratifying to see someone, not have something handed to him, but take advantage of that opportunity and succeed at it.”

Ngoni Makusha’sFSU Resume

Six-Time NCAA Champion

Long Jump – Outdoor: 2008, 2009, 2011 Long Jump – Indoor: 2011 100m Dash – Outdoor: 2011 4x100m Relay – Outdoor: 2011

Eight-Time NCAA All-American

Long Jump – Outdoor: 2008, 2009, 2011 Long Jump – Indoor: 2008, 2011 4x100m Relay – Outdoor: 2008, 2011 100m Dash – Outdoor: 2011

Six-Time ACC Champion

Long Jump – Outdoor: 2008, 2011 Long Jump – Indoor: 2009, 2011 100m Dash – Outdoor: 2011 4x100m Relay – Outdoor: 2011

Breakdown of Makusha’s 2011 Season

• NCAA Champion in the 100m dash after running a collegiate, championships and Drake Stadium record 9.89 in the rain • NCAA Champion in the long jump for the third time in his career after leaping to a Drake Stadium record 8.40 meters • NCAA Champion in the 4x100m relay • Became just the fourth person ever to win an NCAA Championship in the 100m dash and long jump, joining Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens • ACC Champion in the long jump • ACC Champion in the 4x100m relay • ACC Champion in the 100m dash after running a conference-record 9.97 at the league meet • His leap of 8.40 meters in the long jump at the NCAA Championships is the best in the country and second best in the world this year • His 9.89 in the 100m dash at the NCAA Championships is the fourth fastest in the world this year • His mark of 38.77 in the 4x100m relay at the NCAA Championships is the third fastest in the country this year • Named USTFCCCA First Team All-American in the long jump • Named USTFCCCA First Team All-American in the 100m dash • Named USTFCCCA First Team All-American in the 4x100m relay • Named ACC Performer of the Week on April 12, 2011 • ACC Male Athlete of the Year • USTFCCCA Men’s Track & Field Athlete of the Year • ACC Men’s Outdoor Field Event Performer of the Year

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