UTEP track and field standout Blessing Okagbare continued to receive accolades Tuesday morning when she was named the 2010 Conference USA Female Athlete of the Year.
“This is just a reflection of the kind of year she’s had and the kind of athlete she is,” head coach Bob Kitchens said. “To be recognized by, not only your track and field peers, but by athletics is a very significant honor.”
Okagbare becomes the first woman in school history to garner conference athlete of the year honors. Fellow track standout Obadele Thompson was presented the 1997 Western Athletic Conference Stan Bates Award given to the top student-athlete in the league.
Okagbare concluded a stellar collegiate career with four national titles, 11 All-America honors and 15 C-USA championships. She most recently won the 100m with a time of 10.98 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, a performance that ranks among the world's best.
The senior also took gold in the long jump with a leap of 6.79m (22-3.50") to become the first C-USA athlete to win two outdoor national titles.
The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) named her the Mountain Regional Track and Field Indoor Athlete of the Year. She was the only athlete, male or female, to win both indoor honors in a respective region. Okagbare also was named the USTFCCCA Mountain Regional Female Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year.
Okagbare's 15 C-USA gold medals are a conference record. Two weeks prior to outdoor nationals, the 2008 Olympian claimed her third consecutive C-USA long jump title with a leap of 6.58m (21-7.25"). During the regular season, she cleared 6.88m (22-1") for first place at the prestigious Texas Relays, the best jump in the world at the time. Okagbare held the top jump in the country throughout the season. She also was the C-USA Champion in the 100m (11.36) as well as anchoring the winning 4x100m relay team that advanced to nationals with a season-best time of 44.31.
During the C-USA Indoor Championships, she won the 60m, 200m, long jump and triple jump. Okagbare's four individual indoor gold medals tie for the most in league history. She also ranks second for most overall titles (including relays) at a championship meet. For her performances at both the C-USA Indoor and Outdoor Championships, Okagbare earned the meet's High Point Scorer honors in addition to claiming the Female Performance of the Meet titles.
Her performance throughout the season has earned her a spot on The Bowerman Watch List and the NCAA Honda Collegiate Women's Sports Award list, which recognizes the top collegiate athlete in track and field.
The 2009-10 athletic season marked the seventh time that C-USA has honored Male and Female Athletes of the Year. The award is based solely on athletic achievement during an academic year and the winners are determined through a vote by the conference's Directors of Athletics.