LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - University of Akron junior pole vaulter Shawn Barber(Kingwood, Texas) is one of six finalists for the prestigious 85th Annual AAU James E. Sullivan Award, AAU President/CEO Dr. Roger Goudy and AAU Sullivan Award Chair Melissa Willis announced on Wednesday.
The elite group of finalists includes; Olympic Figure Skating Gold Medalists, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, United States gymnast Simone Biles, Duke basketball player Jahlil Okafor, United States Swimming's Katie Ledecky and Barber.
"It's a great honor for me to be named a finalist for the Sullivan Award," said Barber. "This feat in itself feels like quite the accomplishment for me, and I know I couldn't have done it without the efforts and support of the staff at the University of Akron as well as my family, friends, and amazing fans! Go Zips!"
"What a tremendous honor for Shawn and for Akron," Akron track and field head coachDennis Mitchell commented. "What a great job the Akron community did in coming out and voting for him. He truly deserves this award and support."
This year's ceremony marks the return to the prestigious New York Athletic Club (NYAC). Founded in 1868, the NYAC was one of the first organized amateur athletic clubs in the United States.
Online voting is now underway to help determine the winner of the 2015 Sullivan Award. Fans may vote once per day through Wednesday, March 25, when voting ends at 11:59 p.m. The finalists will be honored in New York City, April 18-19, with the winner being unveiled on April 19 at 2 p.m.
Fourteen nominees including 2014 Heisman Trophy award winner Marcus Mariota were among the AAU Sullivan hopefuls that were whittled down to six finalists last week in online fan voting.
Perform has been an understatement for Barber this season as he has won every competition he has entered en route to clearing 19-0 feet (5.80m) in all but one meet.
He capped his indoor campaign in style over the weekend capturing his second consecutive NCAA title with a collegiate- and meet-record jump of 19-4.75 (5.91m) at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship in Fayetteville, Ark. His winning clearance on his final attempt broke not only his own collegiate record but also set a new NCAA Championship meet standard besting Jacob Davis' record of 19-2.25 (5.85m) set in 1999.
The triumph was the ninth this season for Barber, who also won the Texas Expo Vault, Jan. 3, Akron Pole Vault Convention, Jan. 9, in the Zips' dual meet victory past Kent State on Jan. 16, Armory Track Invitational, Jan. 31, Akron Invitational, Feb. 7, Tyson Invitational, Feb. 14, Zips Invitational, Feb. 20, and the MAC Championship, Feb. 28.
He is one of only two collegians to surpass 19-0 feet this season and trails only 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Renaud Lavillenie of France on the 2015 world leaderboard.
Barber captured his third consecutive Mid-American Conference Indoor title with a jump of 19-0.25 (5.80m) on Feb. 28 in Mount Pleasant, Mich., a mark that shattered his own league meet record.
Barber began the month of February stealing the show at the Akron Invitational with a jump of 19-3.5 (5.88m) that broke the all-time collegiate indoor pole vault record of 19-2.25 (5.85m) set by Jacob Davis of Texas on March 6, 1999 in Indianapolis, Ind. The mark also shattered Barber's Stile Athletics Field House record set at the Akron Pole Vault Convention on Jan. 10, as well as his own Canadian National record (19-3) set at the Texas Expo Vault on Jan. 3.
A week later at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 14, Barber again set a new school and collegiate record in the pole vault, surpassing 19-4.25 (5.90m) to win his sixth competition of the season. Barber cleared the height on his second attempt after passing at 19-0.25 (5.80m) and 19-2.25 (5.85m).
He then eclipsed 19-0.25 (5.80m) to win the Zips Invitational, Feb. 20.
Known as the "Oscar" of sports awards, and older than The Heisman, the AAU Sullivan Award honors the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. The AAU has presented it annually since 1930 as a salute to founder, past president of the AAU, and a pioneer in amateur sports, James E. Sullivan. Besides athletic achievement, the AAU Sullivan Award also looks for leadership, character and sportsmanship. Past recipients of the award include: Bruce Jenner (1976), Peyton Manning (1997), Michael Phelps (2003), J.J. Redick (2005), Tim Tebow (2007), Shawn Johnson (2008), and Missy Franklin (2012)
For more info on the event, including voting, past winners, event details and full bios on the nominees, visit aausullivan.org.
Founded in 1888, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is one of the largest, non-profit, volunteer, sports organizations in the United States. The "Sports for All, Forever" philosophy is shared by over 600,000 participants and over 50,000 volunteers. The AAU annually sanctions more than 34 sports programs, 250 national championships, and over 30,000 age division events. A multi-sport organization, the AAU is dedicated exclusively to the development of amateur sports www.aausports.org