Strong finish pushes talented sophomore Jimenez into NCAA Track and Field Championships
From her freshman to her sophomore season, Betzy Jimenez has transformed into one of the top distance runners on the Texas Track and Field team.
"Betzy has upped her intensity level and her focus, and, frankly, she wants it more than she has ever wanted it before," said Texas assistant women's track and field coach Stephen Sisson. "The most important thing that has happened with Betzy is that she has made the decision to be great."
This decision was apparent in the 1,500-meter run at the NCAA Midwest Regional in Lincoln, Neb. Coming on strong in the last 200 meters, Jimenez (Hereford, Texas) was barely edged out by 0.65 seconds to receive sixth place.
The top five finishers in individual events at the NCAA Regionals earned automatic advancement to the NCAA Outdoor Championships to be contested this week at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. However, after the five individual qualifiers were determined, "wild card" qualifiers were added to the NCAA Championships based upon how their time ranked nationally. Jimenez's sixth-place time was fast enough to earn a wild-card berth, and she will join three other teammates at her first NCAA Championship meet.
Jimenez spoke with TexasSports.com about her close call at regionals and her excitement as she heads off to her first NCAA Outdoor Championships.
What were your expectations for the 2008 outdoor track season? Getting to the NCAA Championships was definitely my primary goal. Last year was a little shaky. I had an injured foot during the track season. The cross country season was good but I didn't get to the National Championships. I have been making adjustments in my workouts to get where I want to be.
What was your mindset going into the Midwest Regionals? When I got my qualifying time to go to regionals I knew I was where I needed to be and just needed to keep working. At regionals I was actually really calm, more calm than I'd been in a while. Even before my race, I was confident and knew I had all the pieces I needed and just had to put them together.
What goes through your mind when you race? College running can be a lot more physical. A lot of that is because you have four or five girls who are just as fast as you are. A lot of it is fighting for position over the first 100 or 200 meters. It takes a lot out of you. It's rough and some girls are very physical. I just try to keep my head and stay smooth.
How did you react to your sixth-place finish at regionals and the uncertainty as to whether or not you qualified for the NCAA Championships? At the end of the race I wasn't sure if I had made the (NCAA) championships but I had a feeling I had qualified. After the race, we started calculating things up. I was really calm up until that point. That's when it hit me that I might qualify. I just needed to see it on the paper so I knew it was official.
What are you most looking forward to in Des Moines, Iowa, at your first NCAA Outdoor Championships? In a lot of races, you think about strategy and winning. And, on any given day, anyone can make it and everyone is so fast. This competition is just a perfect opportunity for me to grow. I'm going to a new level and I know I have so much to improve. I'm just very excited. I want to come out with some new personal records.