EUGENE, Ore. – Jatavia Wright closed out the 2014 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championship for the SIUE Cougars Friday with an 18th-place finish in the triple jump.
The junior from Miami Gardens, Fla., leaped 41 feet, 5.25 inches (12.63 meters) on her first jump of the competition.
"You put it out all you can on the first jump," said Wright. "I felt good, and I'm happy I made it (to nationals)."
Wright entered the meet as the final qualifier in a field of 24 competitors. She ultimately improved her position by six spots.
"She opened the competition well on her first jump," said SIUE Interim Head Coach Eileen McAllister. "She finished higher than her incoming rank."
Shanieka Thomas, of San Diego State, won the meet with a jump of 45-11.25 (14.00 meters). He winning leap outdistanced her nearest opponent by more than a foot. LaQue Moen-Davis, of Texas A&M, was second with a jump of 44-6 (13.56m).
Wright was just five inches short of her own school record she set at the Ohio Valley Conference Championship back in May. In her only other legal jump Friday, Wright leaped 40-9.75.
With the season complete, Wright said her performance at the Championship will help for next season.
"I was able to get experience under my belt," she said. "Next year it won't be new. We'll go back to Oregon again. It's all or nothing next year. I'll be ready and prepared."
McAllister said Wright led a young team that is only going to get better.
"The women had a historic year," she said. "There were too many ups and downs though. We need to find consistency. They are a young group and have gained a lot of experience this year. I look forward to big things next year."