SACRAMENTO, Calif.– Ja’la Henderson cannot be stopped. The Cowgirl jumps star punched her ticket to Eugene, Oregon, for the 2018 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships in a second event on Saturday, winning the women’s triple jump in a field of 48 competitors at the NCAA West Preliminary Round.
Henderson broke the UW school record for the event for the fourth time this season and second meet in a row, leaping a whopping 44 feet, 3.5 inches to leave no room for doubt that she is among the nation’s most elite jumpers.
Henderson Has Room to Grow
“With Ja’la’s performance today, it just shows how much room she has to grow in the event,” UW associate head coach and former jumps star Quincy Howe said Saturday night.
“The accomplishment of winning the West regional shows her resolve and her ability to step up her desire to win in the midst of challenges from the best (jumpers) in the entire nation.”
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Similar to her performance in the women’s long jump on Thursday, Henderson paid no heed to her seed during the triple jump on Saturday.
Entering the regional meet ranked eighth in the West for the event, the Dayton, Ohio, native leapt 44-3.5 (13.50 meters) on her first attempt of the evening to secure a trip to Eugene.
The mark pushed her to the top of the leaderboard, and she would be there to stay as the West’s elite jumpers all fell at least an inch and a half short of the budding Cowgirl legend.
Henderson Made First Collegiate Triple Jump Appearance Four Months Ago
After being crowned the best in the West for the event, one might easily forget that Henderson’s first collegiate triple jump appearance was just over four months ago.
Now, Henderson sits atop the UW all-time top 10 list for the event by more than three feet, and her new personal best mark ranks her as the fourth-best women’s triple jumper in Mountain West women’s outdoor track & field history.
Since the conference formed in 1999, only Shanieka Thomas of San Diego State, Kamila Rywelska of BYU, Decontee Kaye of San Diego State and Neidra Covington of TCU have an outdoor triple jump mark better than Henderson’s.
Malm-Annan Missed Qualifying by Less Than Three Feet
While Henderson stole the show on Saturday evening, fellow junior Emelda Malm-Annan showed she has serious potential to qualify for the NCAA Championships during her senior season.
Malm-Annan matched her personal best with a mark of 198-6 in the women’s hammer throw, taking 18th overall and missing qualification to the national meet by less than three feet.
Wyoming assistant coach Carrie Lane has confidence that Malm-Annan has not reached her ceiling yet.
“Overall, she was much more consistent this season and absolutely has the capability to qualify for the NCAA finals next year,” Lane said Saturday.
Hintz’s Incredible Sophomore Season Comes to an End
The third Wyoming student-athlete in action on Saturday was sophomore Daniel Hintz, who competed in the quarterfinal of the men’s 1,500 meters.
An incredible sophomore campaign came to an end for Hintz, who took 21st overall with a time of 3 minutes, 48.62 seconds.
After a breakthrough season, Hintz will be back next year with his eyes on the UW program record for the 1,500 meters and better yet, a trip to the NCAA Championships.
Henderson’s trip to Eugene will begin with the long jump at 6:30 pm MT on Thursday, June 7. She will then compete in the triple jump at 4:40 pm MT on Saturday, June 9.
Henderson will attempt to become the first Cowgirl All-American in the triple jump, while she is looking for the first All-American performance from a Cowgirl in the long jump since Patricia Miller-Davis earned All-America honors in 1980.
Stay tuned to GoWyo.com and @wyo_track on twitter for all the information about Henderson’s trip to Eugene.