Three high jumpers continue school's tradition in event at NCAA Championships
June 8, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa – Texas has a long history of success in the high jump at the NCAA Championships and three athletes continued that legacy Friday afternoon on the third day of the meet in Des Moines, Iowa.
Briscoe, a sophomore from Houston, peaked at the right time. She jumped a personal-best 1.90m (6-2.75) to claim second place on the day. She has continued to improve throughout the end of the season, jumping 1.84m (6-00.50) at the Drake Relays here in Des Moines and 1.86m (6-01.25) to claim her second straight Big 12 Championship in Manhattan, Kan.
“It feels good,” said Briscoe. “I’m happy to represent Texas and glad to have been able to place second because all of these people have been standing behind me and helping me in the bad times and the good times, so I’m just glad to have done so well.”
On Friday, Briscoe missed her first two attempts at the height and Arizona’s Brigetta Barrett was the only athlete to clear the height. Under immense pressure, Briscoe focused on her steps, had a smooth approach and went over the bar. She nicked the bar as she was going over and it shook for a moment before settling still in place.
“My coach kept telling me to remember to stay back and push through the turn, so I was just going over that in my head and kind of imagining myself going over the bar,” said Briscoe. “I did that three times and then I just went.”
Briscoe was able to follow up a third-place performance at Nationals as a freshman with another outstanding performance in 2012. She is the first Texas athlete since Destinee Hooker and Alexandria Anderson (2006-07) to garner All-American status in her first two years of eligibility.
“Shanay is really evolving into an amazing competitor,” said head coach Beverly Kearney. “She is an amazing talent. She is still learning how good she is. She doesn’t know that yet or what her capabilities are. She has learned to be a fighter and a competitor this year, which will help her next year.”
Lucas competed in her last collegiate event at Texas. The senior from Midland, Texas matched her career best at 1.83m (6-0) to tie for sixth overall. It was also her second straight All-American honor as she was second in the high jump with the same mark in 2011. It marked the third time this year she had cleared six feet. In one of the most competitive high jumps in recent history, 10 athletes cleared six feet.
“It was unbelievable that ten girls cleared six feet today,” said Lucas. “That was crazy. I think with it being an Olympic year that all the times, all the heights and everything is just incredible. It’s really a fun meet to be at right now.”
Also a senior, Beverly Owoyele made her final appearance since joining the Longhorns from Fort Worth, Texas in 2008. She cleared a season-best 1.80m (5-10.75) to reach nationals and nearly went the same height, finishing at 1.79m (5-10.50) for 15th place. She missed her first two attempts at the opening height of 1.70m but made it on her third try and would clear two more heights after that to take home second team All-America honors.
“It’s amazing to have your teammates out there with you, just knowing that you have people actually with you jumping to back you up,” said Owoyele. “You have people to help you get your mark and it’s kind of like a comfort zone having two other people out there with you.”
In the history of Texas Women’s Track & Field, the Longhorns have fielded six National Champions in the event. Outdoors there have been 13 All-Americans in the high jump after the two earned the honor this season. Angie Bradburn was the first to accomplish the feat in 1990 when she jumped 6-2.75 in Durham, N.C. Eight years later Erin Aldrich won her first of two national titles with a height of 6-4 in Buffalo, N.Y. at the 1998 championships. In 2000, she picked up her second title, clearing 6-2.75 in Durham.
“Texas has a history in the high jump all the way back to some of the great athletes even before I got to Texas as the coach,” said Kearney. “It is an event that has been a stabilizer for us to score points at the NCAA Championships.”
Arguably the most accomplished high jumper was Destinee Hooker, who won the national championship three times as a freshman, sophomore and senior. She won two of her titles in Sacramento, Calif., jumping 6-2.25 in 2006 and 6-3.50 in 2007. Her 2009 title matched the school record at 6-4.75 as she took gold in Fayetteville, Ark.
With Briscoe coming back as a junior in 2013, the high jump tradition at Texas is sure to continue in the years to come.