Jumping Continents

April 19, 2001

By Mike Kreiger

Agneta Rosenblad had never been to America before she came to Pullman, Washington, to be part of the Washington State track and field team.

Rosenblad, a senior from Lidingo, Sweden, never actually planned on coming to the United States at all.

'I was planning on studying in Sweden,' Rosenblad said. 'I got a call from (assistant track coach) Mark Macdonald and he asked me if I was interested in coming over here. It was kind of far away, but I dreamed of coming over here.'

Rosenblad came to the U.S. in January of 1998. Since then she has earned the title as one of the primer athletes in both the long jump and high hurdles. At the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships, she jumped 6.41 meters, which is 21-feet, 1/2 inch, in the long jump, setting the all time WSU record for both indoors and outdoors. She also owns school records in the 60m high hurdles (7.68 seconds) and 55m hurdles (7.67 seconds).

'The jumping events go hand-in-hand with the hurdles,' Rosenblad said. 'Practicing has helped me a lot. I just wanted to have a good indoor season. The 2000 outdoor nationals opened my eyes. I'm like, `What now?' It feels really good. I went a few years without a really good jump, but I knew I could do it.'

Rosenblad certainly could do it. She was the only woman to represent WSU at the NCAA Indoor Championships March 9-10 in Fayetteville, Ark., and she competed in both the long jump and the 60m hurdles. Unfortunately, at the national meet, the petite blond finished 12th in the long jump and did not advance out of the prelims in the hurdles.

The coaching staff was not surprised with Rosenblad's overall success in reaching the national meets.

'I had high expectations for her because she finished really well last year,' said Coach Rick Sloan. 'She's still capable of jumping further. She's consistently running very well in the hurdles. She's doing very well at both events and competing at a very high level.'

The transition from the indoor track season to the outdoor season can be drastic for some athletes, but Rosenblad makes the leap without many problems.

'It's kind of hard to adjust,' Rosenblad said. ' I just go with the flow and do the best I can.'

Rosenblad's personal goals go above and beyond those of the your typical athlete.

'I want to keep third place (nationally) or go higher,' said Rosenblad, who is currently third in the nation in the 100m hurdles with a season-best time of 13.41 seconds (wind-aided). 'I wouldn't mind running faster or jumping farther. There's really no limit.'

'Jumping coach Kris Grimes has done a wonderful job with her,' Sloan said. 'When she made some changes, she became a longer and more consistent jumper. We show a tape of her to people and say, `This is what you have to do if you want to jump far.''

When the Cougars needed an athlete to compete in the heptathlon at the Pac-10 Championships last year, Sloan called on Rosenblad. And the versatile Rosenblad responded with a sixth-place finish, scored three points for the Cougars, and her total of 4,795 points is tenth highest in school history.

'It takes a lot of skills that I don't have,' Rosenblad said. 'I just wanted to keep up with the others. I got a lot of my points in my own events. I've done several events to help the team, but not as often or as seriously as my main events.'

An accounting major, Rosenblad does not know yet where she will work.

'It's going to be difficult to stay and work in the U.S.,' Rosenblad said. 'I could get a one-year work permit. I'm in no rush to go back home. I will always feel Sweden is home but there is no hurry to go back. I would like to take the Certified Public Accountant exam, but I'm really not sure what I want to do. We'll see what opens up.'

Coach Sloan says Rosenblad is the perfect fit for his program. 'She's an outstanding student,' Sloan said. 'She is a hard worker and never misses training.'

Family has always played an important role in Rosenblad's life, and her parents finally made the trans-Atlantic journey to see the Palouse last fall.

'It was nice to show them Pullman,' she said. 'It was like my two worlds came together. They liked it here. My sister, Christina, also wants to come over here someday.'

For now, Rosenblad is one of the top jumpers and hurdlers in the nation. Competing as a Pac-10 athlete has allowed her to see parts of the world she only dreamed about. Rosenblad wants her final destination in a crimson and gray uniform to be on the medal stand in Eugene, Oregon, site of the 2001 NCAA Outdoor Track Championships.

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