March 9, 2007
Rhonda Watkins jumped her way to the first NCAA title of her career on Friday at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, AR as the indoor freshman won the long jump with an indoor lifetime-best mark of 21-6.75. The win also gives Watkins the first All-American honor of her young career.
The Bruins stand in a tie for sixth-place with 10 points, while Arizona State leads with 21.
Watkins, who came into the meet tied for the third best mark in the nation this season (20-9), won the meet by over three inches. It was the first long jump title for a Bruin since Keyon Soley's win in 2000.
The sophomore in outdoor track will now be a heavy favorite for the outdoor title, as she has already posted a mark of 21-9.50 in the opening meet of the season.
"The way Rhonda's training has been going, I figured that she should win unless someone jumped out of their minds today," said jumps coach Mike Powell. "In warm-ups, she looked great, but had some troubles in her approach when the competition started. Her winning jump wasn't a good jump, but we knew it was far enough. It's good to see her win while not competing at her best, but that's not always how it's going to be. She has to start competing better and we'll work on that in practice and throughout the season.
"This is not only her first NCAA title, but mine as a coach and I couldn't be more happy."
"I'm really excited and overwhelmed that I was able to pull this off considering how bad my first two jumps were," said Watkins. "It gives me a lot of confidence heading into the outdoor season. I have some stuff I need to work on, but right now, I'm just so excited that I won."
The Bruins also had a successful competition from sophomore Allie Bohannon who automatically advanced to the final in the mile after finishing third in heat two of the prelims. Her time of 4:42.30 was the fifth fastest time of the day and puts her in good position for the first All-American honor of her career.
Also on Friday, junior Keneisha Creary finished 18th in the high jump with a clearance of 5-8.75.
On Saturday, junior Ingrid Kantola will compete in the pole vault, while Bohannon runs in the final of the mile.