Cam Levins has had quite the year: a dominant season in the NCAA, a professional deal with Nike, a trip to the Olympics in both the 5000m and 10,000m, and a Canadian cross-country title.
On Wednesday night in Orlando, Fla. the Black Creek runner received the NCAA’s most prestigious award in athletics, The Bowerman. The prize is given to one male and one female athlete considered the most outstanding by the U.S. track and field and cross-country coaches association.
At the awards, Levins said winning The Bowerman came as "a complete surprise" to him. He was one of three male athletes nominated for the award. "I only fathomed, a little bit, that I might be able to win," Levins said after the award was presented. "To have it happen was just unreal, I'm still in a bit of shock."
"This really just cements Southern Utah University track and field in the history books," head coach Eric Houle said. "I can't think of a better student-athlete than Cameron Levins to represent SUU and our program and look forward to what is in store for us going into the future."
Levins joins former winners Galen Rupp (2009), Ashton Eaton (2010) and Ngoni Makusha (2011). Rupp and Eaton each competed for the U.S. during the 2012 Summer Olympics, with Eaton earning a gold medal in the men's decathlon and Rupp earning a silver in the men's 10,000m. At the London Games, Levins held his own in a star-studded 10,000m field, finishing 11th. He then battled a chest ailment to cross 14th in the 5,000m.
Levins swept NCAA Outdoor crowns at 5000 and 10,000 meters in 2012, becoming the first to do so since 2009 when Oregon’s Galen Rupp – The Bowerman winner from that year – did so. Using a 58.06 final lap split, Levins maintained his two-second lead to take the 10K title in 28:07.14, the best time in meet history since 1984. In the 5000, Levins closed in 54.28 on the final lap and 1:59.66 over the last 800 metres to win by over a second (13:40.05).
Earlier in the season, on two consecutive weekends, Levins jumped into the record books with big runs at the Mt. SAC Relays and Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational. At the Mt. SAC Relays, Levins outran Arizona’s Lawi Lalang in a 5000m thriller to clock the NCAA’s best time of the season, 13:18.47. The mark is fifth all-time in the collegiate ranks and the fastest by a collegian since 2008. At the Payton Jordan meet, Levins ran another winning race against a stout field of pros and collegians with a 10K world-leading run of 27:27.96 – the time is also No. 2 on the all-time collegiate list.
Two weeks removed from the Payton Jordan meet, Levins competed in five races at the Summit League Outdoor Championships and swept the finals of the 1500, 5000, and 10K. He was named the meet’s track MVP.
Indoors, at the NCAA Championships, he placed third in the 3000m and fourth in the 5000m. He was named the Summit League’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Year after taking home four conference titles with victories in the 800, Mile, 3000, and 5000. He was the top collegian in the 3000m at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston where he ran 7:45.75, the fastest time by a collegian since 2009 and eighth-fastest all-time. At the Millrose Games, Levins placed seventh overall in the Mile with a run of 3:57.16.
Levins is the first athlete from Southern Utah and the Summit League to win The Bowerman. His work ethic — logging mega mileage for a track runner — and outstanding kick became the stuff of legend over the last year.
Levins will now move over from his academic home of SUU to train with Dave Scott Thomas and Speed River as a professional.