It's been 40 years since the first women's outdoor track and field Division I championship in 1982. In honor of the many great years in the sport and to prepare for the exciting year ahead, here are 40 athletes that you need to know before the 2022 season.
*Listed in alphabetical order by last name
1. Deborah Acquah | Texas A&M | Jumps
Deborah Acquah is one of the best in the country in the jumps all around. Last outdoor season, she finished fourth in the triple jump and seventh in the long jump as Texas A&M finished second in team scoring. During the 2022 indoor season, Acquah again was a finalist in both events, finishing third in the long jump and fifth in the triple jump.
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2. Julien Alfred | Texas | Sprints
Julien Alfred enters the 2022 outdoor season after claiming a collegiate record in her most recent meet. At the 2022 indoor championships, Alfred set a new record in the 60 meters — and it was only the prelims. The Texas junior will look to build off that record-breaking performance in the spring.
3. Alia Armstrong | LSU | Sprints/Hurdles
There might not be another woman in collegiate track and field with a bigger chip on her shoulder entering the outdoor season than LSU's Alia Armstrong.
That's because after entering the indoor championships as the pick by many to win the 60 meter hurdles, Armstrong false-started in the final. That came after she missed out on the 60 meter final thanks to a tie among three finishers at 7.18 seconds.
Armstrong enters the outdoor season looking to bounce back from her sudden exit. After landing on the Bowerman watch list, she surely has the talent to do so.
4. Adelaide Aquilla | Ohio State | Throws
In 2021, Adelaide Aquilla swept the women's indoor and outdoor shot put titles and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. While she didn't three-peat in the event during the 2022 indoor season, Aquilla still has one more title to defend.
5. Anavia Battle | Ohio State | Sprints
When it comes to the 200 meters, few are better than Ohio State's Anavia Battle. She's the fastest returning sprinter from last year's 200 meter finalists. She also holds the all-time collegiate-best mark in the outdoor 200 meters of 21.95 seconds at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
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6. Celera Barnes | Southern California | Sprints
In 2021, Celera Barnes was scoring points for Kentucky as a finalist in the 100 meters. Now, after a graduate transfer, Barnes will be sprinting for the defending national champions at Southern California.
7. Rachel Baxter | Virginia Tech | Pole Vault
If you're looking for the best pole vaulters in 2022, Rachel Baxter is probably one of the first names you'll find. The Virginia Tech product enters the season after winning the 2021 indoor pole vault title.
8. Mercy Chelangat | Alabama | Distance
Mercy Chelangat may be the best distance runner in the nation in 2022. She's that good. Expect her to make the 5,000 meter and 10,000 meter finals again come June.
9. Talitha Diggs | Florida | Sprints
Talitha Diggs is the first Florida Gator to make the list. If not for a record-breaking season from Athing Mu in 2021, Diggs would enter the spring with back-to-back 400 meter titles — she finished second at the outdoor championships. However, Mu is gone, giving Diggs a great chance to sweep the indoor and outdoor 400 meter titles.
10. Lamara Distan | Texas A&M | Jumps
Texas A&M's Lamara Distan is an elite high jumper. The 2021 outdoor runner-up won the 2022 indoor high jump title.
11. Tyra Gittens | Texas | Combined Events
If your top five list of athletes in women's track and field doesn't have Tyra Gittens on it, then it is probably wrong.
Gittens is the only returning Bowerman finalist this season. In 2021, Gittens won the Heptathlon and made her presence known as one of the top jumpers in the sport.
In 2022, Gittens transferred from Texas A&M to Texas and has continued her success, finding her name again on the Bowerman watchlist. Now a Longhorn, Gittens has shown no signs of slowing down.
12. Rachel Glenn | South Carolina | Jumps
Rachel Glenn is the reigning outdoor high jump champion. The Gamecock will try to defend her title in 2022.
13. Lisa Gunnarsson | LSU | Pole vault
Lisa Gunnarson won the 2021 outdoor pole vault title. If she defends her title this year, LSU may have what it takes to win another — they have 14 — women's outdoor championship.
14. Anna Hall | Florida | Combined Events
Anna Hall finds her name on the Bowerman watch list after transferring from Georgia to Florida. Her pentathlon win was won of five indoor individual titles for the Gators this winter.
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15. Alysah Hickey | Oregon | Jumps
Alysah Hickey is a top-tier long jumper. She finished fifth in the event at the 2021 outdoor championships and will go for the win on her home track this year.
16. Alexis Holmes | Kentucky | Sprints
Alexis Holmes enters the outdoor season on the Bowerman watch list as one of the top sprinters in the 400 meters in the nation. She'll likely contribute to Kentucky's championship-level 4x400 meter relay team this spring as well.
17. Melissa Jefferson | Coastal Carolina | Sprints
Melissa Jefferson shocked many at the indoor championships with her 60 meter final win. Come the outdoor season, the Chanticleer should be a household name.
18. Jasmine Jones | Southern California | Sprints
Jasmine Jones was pivotal to defending champion Southern California's title run. She led off the 4x100 meter relay team that took home the title in 42.82 seconds.
19. Rayniah Jones | UCF | Sprints/Hurdles
Rayniah Jones puts UCF track and field on the map each week with her performances. In 2021, she finished second in the 100 meter hurdles and has the potential to win the whole thing in 2022.
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20. Symone Mason | LSU | Sprints
Symone Mason ran third in LSU's runner-up 4x100 meter relay last spring. She'll also compete in the individual sprints this spring.
21. Jasmine Moore | Florida | Jumps
Jasmine Moore may be the most impactful transfer in the sport after moving from Georgia to Florida this year. The Bowerman candidate won two individual indoor titles, completing the long jump and triple jump sweep, leading the Gators to their first-ever indoor championship.
Come the outdoor season, Moore will try to complete the same feat again; she finished second and third in the outdoor triple jump and long jump in 2021, respectively.
22. Megan Moss | Kentucky | Sprints
Kentucky's Megan Moss is key to Kentucky's relay success. She ran in positions throughout the relay in 2021, moving from leading off in some races and anchoring in others. With the loss of Celera Barnes and Faith Ross, Moss' versatility is of high value for the Wildcats.
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23. Akealy Moton | North Dakota State | Throws
North Dakota State quietly has a deep roster of throwers, with Akealy Moton being the best of the bunch. She qualified for the javelin and shot put at 2021 outdoors, finishing third in the latter.
24. Kemba Nelson | Oregon | Sprints
Kemba Nelson is one of the top sprinters on the west coast and in the nation. She finished fourth in the 100 meter finals and ran with the Ducks in the 100 meter relay final at the 2021 outdoor championships.
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25. Ackera Nugent | Baylor | Sprints
Ackera Nugent is the lone Baylor Bear to make this list. It's well deserved as Nugent was a finalist in the 100 meters and 100 meter hurdles last spring.
26. Favour Ofili | LSU | Sprints
Favour Ofili ran in the 200 meters and 4x100 meter relay for LSU at the 2021 championships, placing in both. Ofili has the potential to win a title in any sprint in 2022 on her best day.
27. Camryn Rogers | California | Throws
Camryn Rogers won the 2021 hammer title by more than four meters last spring. She's on the Bowerman watch list entering 2022 and is the favorite in the hammer yet again.
28. Masai Russell | Kentucky | Hurdles
Masai Russell is one of the most consistent hurdlers in the country. As one of the few finalists in both the 100 meters and 400 meter hurdles last spring, Russell could the next step and win the title in 2022.
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29. Aurora Rynda | Michigan | Distance
Aurora Rynda is a blazing distance runner out of Michigan. She received votes for the Bowerman watch list earlier in March.
30. Paula Salmon | North Carolina A&T | Hurdles
Paula Salmon is one of the best hurdlers in the country. As North Carolina A&T continues its progression into a national track and field power, Salmon is the latest star to don the Aggie uniform.
31. Josie Schaefer | Wisconsin | Throws
Josie Schaefer finished second in the shot put at the 2021 outdoor championships. 2022 could be the year she brings a title back to Wisconsin.
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32. Grace Stark | Florida | Sprints/Hurdles
Grace Stark enters the outdoor season after tying the 60 meter collegiate record en route to a title this winter. Stark finds her name on the Bowerman watch list and will play a key role in Florida's search for its first outdoor title.
33. Abby Steiner | Kentucky | Sprints
If the Bowerman voting happened today, Abby Steiner would have a great shot at taking home the trophy. She set records in the 200 and 300 meters during the indoor season.
After missing most of the 2021 outdoor season with an achilles injury, Steiner makes her return to the spring as one of the best in the sport.
34. Shey Taiwo | Ole Miss | Throws
During the indoor season, Shey Taiwo placed her name throughout NCAA weight throw record books. While weight throw is not an outdoor event, Taiwo finished second in the hammer last spring. With momentum from the indoor season, Taiwo may be able to move one step up the podium.
35. Lanae-Tava Thomas | Texas | Sprints
Lanae-Tava Thomas was the third leg of Southern California's 4x100 meter championship relay last spring. Thomas also finished seventh in the 100 meters.
In 2022, Thomas returns, only this time with a new uniform. Thomas will bring her blazing speed to Texas after transferring this spring.
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36. Ruth Usoro | Texas Tech | Jumps
As the reigning outdoor triple jump champion, Ruth Usoro is an integral part of Texas Tech's success. She'll have plenty of competition as she tries to defend her title from a loaded 2022 field in the event.
37. Jorinde van Klinken | Arizona State | Throws
Jorinde van Klinken won the 2021 discus title. She followed that up with a 2022 indoor shot put title. Van Klinken is a threat in multiple throwing events this spring and could work her way up the Bowerman watch list with a successful season.
38. Courtney Wayment | BYU | Mid-Distance/Distance
No Anna Camp, no problem for BYU as Courtney Wayment is the latest star for the Cougars. She landed on the Bowerman watch list earlier this year.
39. Britton Wilson | Arkansas | Sprints
Britton Wilson transferred across the SEC from Tennessee to Arkansas and has quickly found success. When the Razorback indoor 4x400 meter relay obliterated the collegiate record by more than two seconds, Wilson ran a sub-50 split of 49.83 seconds. With a time like that, she has the speed to finish near the top of every race this spring.
40. Charokee Young | Texas A&M | Sprints
When Texas A&M ran an NCAA record 3:22.34 in the outdoor 4x400 meter finals in 2021, Cherokee Young ran the second leg.
Young returns this spring, capable of winning an individual 400 meter title and leading the Aggies to a repeat relay crown.