UH jumpers earn title shots
Hawaii's contingent at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships was greeted by stormy conditions upon its arrival in Iowa. But both Rainbow Wahine high jumpers weathered the elements yesterday to earn a shot at a national title.
Freshman Amber Kaufman and junior Emily Sheppard advanced to the high jump finals by finishing among the top 16 in yesterday's qualifying round at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
The meet's opening day was delayed by storms that have battered the Midwest this week, and tornado warnings were posted for the area last night.
"None of us have been in this kind of weather conditions before," UH coach Carmyn James said. "It's kind of freaky."
The weather cleared in time for the preliminary round of the women's high jump with Kaufman and Sheppard both clearing 5 feet, 93/4 inches to secure berths in the finals. UH and Arizona are the only schools with two jumpers remaining in the competition.
Both cleared the first two heights as the field was whittled down, and Sheppard got over 5-93/4 on her first attempt.
Kaufman's path was a bit more dramatic as the Western Athletic Conference champion finally got over the mark on her third and final attempt.
"To me that showed a great sign of mental toughness in that she focused on the positive aspects and was able to clear the bar," James said. "So I think that gives her a boost going into the final.
"And Emily, I'm just so impressed with her technique. She's never looked so good in competition for as long as I've known her. She's just right on with everything. I'm pretty excited for both of them come Friday and what's possible."
All three UH athletes will be in action tomorrow. While Sheppard and Kaufman take part in the high jump finals, senior Annett Wichmann opens competition in the two-day heptathlon. Gwen Loud was the last UH athlete to capture an NCAA championship, winning the long jump in 1984.