UA high jumper brings home first track and field national title of the year
June 13, 2008
Despite less than ideal weather conditions on a rainy weekend that saw the University of Arizona's track and field team essentially evacuated from their downtown Des Moines hotel, the team will leave the NCAA National Championships with at least one national championship.
A year removed from a heart breaking performance at last years NCAA West Regional qualifiers, the sophomore from Rowlett, Texas claimed her first NCAA title in the women's high jump at the 2008 NCAA National Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.
Patterson cleared all of her first five jumps on the first attempt to give her a clean slate heading into her attempt at 1.89m. Patterson, 1.86m (6' 1 1/4') on her previous jump, who cleared the bar at was one of three athletes attempting the mark in the final round. All three missed their three attempts and since Patterson entered the jump having not missed a previous jump, she won the tiebreaker between Raevan Harris of Auburn and Sharon Day of Cal-Poly since both had missed jumps on their prior attempts.
As Sharon Day gaged her final jump, Patterson hid her face in her hands as she knew that Day's final jump would either make Patterson a champion or take it for herself.
'I was real nervous because she's very talented and a great jump,' Patterson said after the performance. 'I'm just glad I could bring one home for the Wildcats.'
The victory was the fourth championship for UA jumps and multi-events coach Sheldon Blockburger in as many years. Blockburger, who coached Sharon Day to a national championship during his tenure at Cal-Poly, also coached UA athlete Jake Arnold to back-to-back national championships in the men's decathlon the previous two years.
'The bottom line is that we needed points,' Blockburger said after the event. 'We scored zero points a year ago here and that was kind of embarassing.'
Blockburger said that Patterson looked like she was going to win it as soon as he saw her warming up and was not surprised by her impressive performance when it counted.
Patterson can add this to his already impressive list of sophomore accomlishments as she also won the Pac-10 title in the event and finished second to Day at the NCAA West Regional Championships.
Patterson missed a invitation to the nation championships last year after losing a jump-off at the West Regional that would have granted her the fifth and final qualifying spot.
Teammate Jasmin Day, Sharon's sister, will also earn All-American honors in the event as she came in seventh place with her mark of 1.80m (5' 10 3/4').
Indoor Pentathlon All-American Shevell Quinley is currently in 13th place after the first day of competition in the women's outdoor heptathlon. Quinley started the day by finishing the 100-meter hurdles in a heptathlon best time of 13.78 and currently has 3,303 points with three events left.