Watkins Leaps Past The Competition at West Region Championships

May 25, 2007


Rhonda Watkins had a stellar afternoon in Eugene, OR at the NCAA West Region Championships as the sophomore posted the No. 2 mark in the world this year (22-4.25, wind-legal) to win the long jump competition.

That mark breaks the nearly 20-year old Pac-10 record set back in 1988 by former Bruin Gail Devers (22-2.50) and moves her to No. 2 all-time behind UCLA great Jackie Joyner-Kersee (23-9). The mark also breaks Watkins' own West Region record (21-6), which she jumped in 2006 to win the regional title. It also gives her the World Championships qualifying mark.

On the game plan for today's competition - "I was definitely trying to PR. I was also thinking about getting my qualifier for the World Championships."

On the winning mark - I didn't think it was that far because it didn't feel like the best jump. I'm happy it didn't feel like a big deal because I know I can do better."

Jumps Coach Mike Powell on Watkins only taking three of her six jumps - "The goal here is to qualify for nationals.That's the main reason we are here. The goal coming in was to jump 6.80m and she did that. You risk injury for no reason if you keep going. So we stopped after the prelim round. Now not ony is she qualified for NCAA's, but Worlds, and we have to be careful with what we do."

Powell on Watkins bouncing back from a third-place finish in the high jump - I told her and all of my athletes that all that matters is finishing in the top five and I knew she was in the top three so I was tempted to ask if she wanted to stop. But, I know how tough a competitor she is and that she didn't want to stop jumping until she had no other chance to win. It's fun because she's such a competitor and that's how it should be."

UCLA currently stands in second-place with 22 points, while Arizona State leads with 25.

Prelim Results

100m - No entries.

200m - No entries.

400m - Maris Wisdom (53.90) and Johanna Monthe (54.28) both advanced to Saturday's final after running the fourth and fifth fastest times during the preliminary rounds. Wisdom was second in heat one, while Monthe was third in the same heat. Krystin Lacy finished 11th in a time of 55.05 and will not advance to the finals.

800m - No entries.

1500m - Allie Bohannon, who is racing through a knee injury suffered two weeks ago at the Pac-10 meet during a fall in the 800m final, ran a lifetime-best 4:22.30 (old best, 4:23.59) in the 1500m to advance to Saturday's final. She had the ninth-fastest time overall and was fifth in heat two.

5000m - Claire Rethmeier finished 12th in a time of 16:55.38.

100m Hurdles - MacKenzie Hill ran a lifetime-best 13.61 (old best, 13.65) in the prelim rounds of the hurdles to advance to Saturday's final. She had the third-fastest time in heat three, and seventh-fastest time on the day. DeShanta Harris clipped the first few hurdles and did not finish the race.

400m Hurdles - Nicole Leach easily won heat one by over three seconds as she posted the fastest qualifying time of the day (56.86). MacKenzie Hill also qualified for Saturday's final after posting the seventh-fastest time of the day (1:00.15). Hill was third in heat two.

Finals Results

High Jump - Rhonda Watkins earned a spot to the National Championships with her third-place finish in the high jump with a mark of 5-11.25. Keneisha Creary and Maryann Wee both failed to clear a height.

Long Jump - Rhonda Watkins led the way with her winning mark of 22-4.50. Renee Williams also automatically qualified for Nationals with her fourth-place jump of 20-4.50.

Danielle Watson placed 14th with a mark of 19-3.50.

Shot Put - Kamaiya Warren finished 18th with a toss of 46.10.75 and will not receive an at-large bid to NCAA's.

Javelin - Tara Ross finished eighth in the javelin with a throw of 152-5, just nine inches shy of her lifetime-best mark (153-2). She is eligible for an at-large bid to the NCAA meet since she finished in the top-12, but will most likely not get in based on her national rank (44th).

Competition continues on Saturday with all running event finals, as well as the pole vault, triple jump and discus competitions.

Team Standings After 5 Scored Events (top-10 of 21 teams)
1. Arizona State, 25 points; 2. UCLA, 22 points; 3. Stanford, 20 points; 3. Oregon, 20 points; 5. California, 13 points.

UCLA Health Sponsor - Event Information
Saturday, Jan 16 - All Day PST
vs. NAU Team ...
Flagstaff, AZ
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vs. Kansas State ...
Manhattan, KS
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Manhattan, KS
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Fayetteville, AR
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Fayetteville, AR
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vs. Frank Sevigne Husker ...
Lincoln, NE
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vs. Frank Sevigne Husker ...
Lincoln, NE
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vs. Husky Invitational
Seattle, WA
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Seattle, WA