Trey Cunningham named the ASWA Amateur Athlete of the Year

Published 8:56 am Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Special to the Advance

When you’re considered the best in your sport, it’s the ultimate compliment.

The Heisman Trophy. The Naismith or Wooden. The Golden Spikes. They all correspond with being considered the most valuable player, the player of the year, or the outstanding player depending on the specific sport and award criteria.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In track and field, it’s known as the Bowerman Award, and last year it went to Trey Cunningham, a hurdles ace for Florida State University, who hails from Winfield, Ala.

For piecing together one of the greatest hurdle seasons in collegiate history, Cunningham was named the Amateur Athlete of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association on Tuesday. In close voting, he edged last year’s winner, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, the 2021 Heisman winner who was the first-overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft.

“Hurdlers like to race because it’s a rhythm thing,” Cunningham told Let’ last year. “And once you find the rhythm, you don’t want to stop.”

He didn’t. Before wrapping up his collegiate career and signing a professional deal with adidas, Cunningham won NCAA titles in the 60 hurdles indoors and 110 hurdles outdoors, while moving to second on the all-time NCAA list in both events (7.38 seconds in the 60, 13.00 in the 110).

For an encore, he finished second at both the USATF Championships and the World Championships.

Cunningham had just as much academic success as well. He was named the National Indoor Scholar-Athlete of the Year to go along with his ACC Indoor and Outdoor Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards.

These past few months he’s continued to train in Tallahassee, Fla., while wrapping up his master’s degree in sport management, although his thesis has had more to do with mental side of his sport and how one’s personality can be an indicator of competitive burnout.

“So I’m using the big five: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, and out of those five, two of them are showing strong signs – it’s conscientiousness and neuroticism,” he said. “So neuroticism is positively correlated with burnout. So if you’re more inclined to be negatively responding to things, it makes sense. And then conscientiousness is negatively related to it.”

Cunningham was also named the 2022 Track and Field News National Athlete of the Year, the 2022 ACC Men’s Outdoor Track Performer of the Year, and the 2022 USTFCCCA Outdoor South Region Track Athlete of the Year.

Previous winners

  • 2021 Bryce Young
  • 2020 DeVonta Smith
  • 2019 Derrick Brown
  • 2018 Casey Mize
  • 2017 Minkah Fitzpatrick
  • 2016 Jonathan Allen
  • 2015 Derrick Henry
  • 2014 Amari Cooper
  • 2013 Jameis Winston
  • 2012 Brooke Pancake
  • 2011 Trent Richardson
  • 2010 Cam Newton
  • 2009 Mark Ingram II
  • 2008 DeWanna Bonner
  • 2007 Pat White
  • 2006 JaMarcus Russell
  • 2005 DeMeco Ryans
  • 2004 Jason Campbell
  • 2003 Philip Rivers
  • 2002 Andree Pickens
  • 2001 Gabe Cross
  • 2000 Gabe Cross
  • 1999 Chris Samuels
  • 1998 Tee Martin
  • 1997 Tim Hudson
  • 1996 Meredith Willard
  • 1995 Ronald McKinnon
  • 1994 Jay Barker
  • 1993 Niesa Johnson
  • 1992 Dee Foster
  • 1991 Tim VanEgmond
  • 1990 Phillip Doyle
  • 1989 Gary Hollingsworth
  • 1988 Derrick Thomas
  • 1987 Mike Turk
  • 1986 Cornelius Bennett
  • 1985 Bo Jackson
  • 1984 Rowdy Gaines
  • 1983 David Magadan
  • 1982 Randy Campbell
  • 1981 Ed Lett
  • 1980 Rowdy Gaines
  • 1979 Joe Cribbs
  • 1978 Reginald King
  • 1977 Ozzie Newsome
  • 1976 Harvey Glance
  • 1975 Leon Douglas
  • 1974 Jerry Pate