The Decade’s Top 10 Collegiate Women

Top-rated Keturah Orji finished off her exemplary collegiate career with a rare LJ/TJ double. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

THERE WAS LITTLE DOUBT on who our panel thought was the best collegiate woman of the ’10s, horizontal jump star Keturah Orji succeeding miler/steepler Jenny Barringer/Simpson of Colorado. Note that this is an individual honor, so being on a winning relay or being a member of a team champion had no bearing on the choosing. Note also that competition outside the end of the actual collegiate season—which terminates with the NCAA Championships—was not considered. Here’s our top 10:

1. Keturah Orji (Georgia)

The bouncy New Jersey native had pretty good long jump credentials: 7th-6th-3rd-1st in the NCAA Outdoor, 13th-4th-3rd-2nd at the Indoor, with a 22-4¼ best. But it was her triple jumping that gained her the No. 1 position: NCAA Outdoor titles all 4 years (2015–18) to become the event’s first 4-time winner. She wasn’t quite as perfect undercover, only winning 3 straight times after taking 2nd as a frosh. She stamped her name in the CR book 4 times, reaching 46-10¾ and 47-8 (also an American Record) as a soph, then hitting 47-8 and 47-11¾ as a senior. Overall she can claim 9 of the 10 longest collegiate marks ever. Indoors the tally is the 8 farthest ever and she claimed 2 CRs as a junior and another as a senior, all three of the marks also counting as ARs.

2. Maggie Ewen (Arizona State)

The Sun Devil star was all-around throwing talent personified, winning 4 national titles in 3 events: 2 in the shot (indoors & out in ’18) and 1 each in the discus (’18) and hammer (’17). She was also a 2-time scorer in the weight indoors, with a high of 4th. Overall, she was an 11-time scorer indoors and out. She produced 3 Collegiate Records in the hammer—240-7 as a junior, 241-6 & 244-6 as a senior—plus the all-time outdoor best in the shot (63‑10¼).

3. Raevyn Rogers (Oregon)

Going undefeated against collegians in ’17, the Texas native reached the high point of her senior year with a Collegiate Record 1:59.10, snipping 0.01 off the standard set by Suzy Hamilton 27 years earlier. She won the NCAA as a frosh, soph & junior (taking the indoor titles the last two years as well) before going pro early. She also had a 49.77 split in her final race as a Duck, then the No. 6 time ever in NCAA meet history.

4. Brigetta Barrett (Arizona)

Nobody jumped higher than Barrett in this decade—or any other for that matter—as she scaled a Collegiate Record 6-6¼ to win the Pac-12 as a senior in ’13. That was her third straight conference title, and in each of the years 2011–13 she won the NCAA titles both indoors and out. She’s =No. 3 on the all-time indoor list at 6-5½. She was undefeated against collegiate competition in her soph/junior/senior years.

5. Courtney Okolo (Texas)

The Longhorn speedster was clearly the decade’s dominant quartermiler. After an Outdoor 4th as a frosh in ’13, she lowered the Collegiate Record to 50.03 in winning the Big 12 as a soph, then went on to capture the national title. She snared Indoor crowns as a junior and senior, then added another Outdoor title as a senior, plus another Collegiate Record, 49.71. She capped her final year with the then-second-fastest split in NCAA meet history, 49.57.

6. Brianna Rollins/McNeal (Clemson)

Hurdler Rollins began her collegiate career as an indoor star and ended it as the fastest outdoor performer ever. As a frosh (’11) she won the NCAA Indoor 60H. As a soph she was the outdoor 100H runner-up; then came her awesome junior campaign. Indoors began with a Collegiate Record 7.78 in January and concluded with the Nos. 2 & 3 times ever in winning the NCAA Indoor. Outdoors she twice became the fastest collegian ever, setting CRs of 12.47 and 12.39 in the heats and semis at the NCAA Championships. She then turned pro.

7. Kimberlyn Duncan (LSU)

In a brilliant 3-year close to her career as a Bayou Bengal, Duncan racked up 56 points out of 60 in the 100/200, in the process becoming the first-ever 3-time winner of the half-lapper. She paired her 200 wins with 2nds in the 100 as a soph and junior and a 3rd as a senior. The last two years she also won the Indoor’s 200 titles. Timewise, she broke the low-altitude CR in the 200 three times, once as a junior and twice as a senior.

8. Kendell Williams (Georgia)

One of two strong candidates as the decade’s multi-event queen, Williams racked up no fewer than 7 national titles, 2014–17: all 4 in the pentathlon and 3 of 4 in the heptathlon (where she was 2nd as a soph). It was in the 5-event version where the versatile Bulldog really sparkled, setting 3 CRs, topped by a 4703 and claiming 7 of the 9 highest scores ever. Her 6354 total sits her at No. 5 on the all-time heptathlon list.

9. Brianne Theisen-Eaton (Oregon)

The Ducks’ Canadian import also won 3 NCAA heptathlon titles in her career, but one of hers was in ’09, so she slips behind Williams despite cranking out the No. 2 collegiate score ever, 6440. She also turned in what was at the time the No. 4 total ever, 6353. Undercover, she claimed a trio of pentathlon titles and climbed to No. 6 on the all-time list at 4555.

10. Raven Saunders (Southern Illinois/Mississippi)

A national-title winner at two schools, Saunders had a spectacular year as a Saluki frosh, winning the NCAA shot titles indoors and out. As a soph for the Rebels she repeated in the outdoor event and twice raised the CR, to 63-1¼ and 63-5. Her junior year brought the farthest collegiate put ever, 64-2¼, and she added a second indoor crown. She turned pro before her senior year. ◻︎

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