Sitting in first place after a personal best leap of 41′ 0.5″, Portland State sophomore triple jumper Nkeiru Ugwoaba was one attempt away from becoming the 2008 Big Sky Indoor Triple Jump Champion. Unfortunately, that attempt belonged to senior Lori Vaught of Sacramento State, who leapt 41’1.
Triple jumper soars for a crown
Sitting in first place after a personal best leap of 41′ 0.5″, Portland State sophomore triple jumper Nkeiru Ugwoaba was one attempt away from becoming the 2008 Big Sky Indoor Triple Jump Champion.
Unfortunately, that attempt belonged to senior Lori Vaught of Sacramento State, who leapt 41’1.75″ and left Ugwoaba 1.25 inches short of the championship.
Ugwoaba, who says she likes track because it is fun, singled out her performance at the Big Sky Indoor Championships as one of the best of her track and field career.
“I think my best memory would be from high school when we won the 4×100 at state,” said Ugwoaba. “My best performance was at indoors this year. I had a big PR, but lost by half an inch.”
At Highline High School in Burien, Wash., Ugwoaba twice lettered in gymnastics in addition to playing basketball. On the track, though, is where Ugwoaba shined, winning the state championship in the triple jump in 2004 and running as a member of the 2005 state champion 4x100m relay team.
“The 4×100 is probably my favorite event,” Ugwoaba said. “I like that it’s a team/group effort.”
Working well with others is a trait that Ugwoaba will rely on in the future as she pursues a career in the medical field after college. The pre-nursing student, whose parents both moved to the United States from Nigeria to attend the University of Washington, had very specific reasons why she would rather be a nurse than a doctor.
“I’m not sure about what type of nurse I want to be,” Ugwoaba said. “But, I feel like doctors aren’t close to their patients, and nurses have more of a relationship with them.”
Ugwoaba’s best jump of the outdoor season so far, was 39’6″ at the Tiger Invitational in Baton Rouge, La., on April 12. That jump was good enough to put Ugwoaba at No. 2 among the Big Sky’s best jumpers, giving her an automatic qualification for the Big Sky Outdoor Championships next month in Sacramento.
With a season-best mark in the triple jump at the Drake Relays this past weekend and another tune-up opportunity this upcoming week in Forest Grove, Ore., Ugwoaba is in a good position to meet her goals for the season.
“I want to beat my mark from indoors and win conference,” Ugwoaba said. “I think I should be able to do it.”
As of Thursday, Ugwoaba trailed only Vaught of Sacramento State. Vaught’s conference leading jump of 40’07” gives Ugwoaba two goals to go after in one big leap. A jump of 40’05” is the automatic qualifying mark for the 2008 NCAA West Regional meet that will be In Northridge, Calif., on May 30-31.
Ugwoaba also has the seventh best long jump in the Big Sky this season. She jumped 18’6.5″ on March 22 at the Oregon Preview in Eugene, Ore.