Feb. 21, 2014
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa –When Carisa Leacock was a freshman at the University of Iowa in 2011, she had her eyes on one goal: the school indoor long jump record of 19-feet-6 set by Lisa Moats in 1986.
On the first jump of Leacock’s final home indoor track and field meet Friday at the UI Recreation Building, she rose to the top of the Hawkeye leaderboard with a leap of 19-9 ½.
“I haven’t been jumping too well, but today I don’t know what was in me,” Leacock said. “I just wanted to jump big; I got it and I was happy with it.”
Leacock entered Friday’s Iowa Invitational sitting third on the school’s all-time list behind Moats and Renee White (19-3 ¼). The senior from Port of Spain, Trinidad, had jumped 19-1 ¼ this season.
A key to soaring more than eight inches further than her previous season best? Mechanics.
“We changed a couple things in practice,” said UI assistant coach Clive Roberts. “We wanted to make sure she was bringing some speed, so we changed her start. Once we did that, she was able to come with speed and it was a good jump.”
Perfecting technique has been on Leacock’s to-do list for some time. It paid off in record fashion Friday.
“I want to focus on getting my mechanics on the runway down properly,” she said. “Once I do that, I know I will go really far. It doesn’t matter what distance it is, working on my mechanics will get me where I want to be.”
Where she wants to be is high on the award stand at next weekend’s Big Ten Championships in Geneva, Ohio. Prior to this weekend’s action, Leacock was 14th on the conference performance list; during the Iowa Invitational, she crept into seventh. None of that will matter in seven days, and both Leacock and Roberts predict that her best is yet to come.
“She has a lot more in there,” Roberts said. “She gets another week of training and feeling confident, so let’s see what happens.”
Leacock knows the Big Ten is loaded in the jump events. Four league foes have already gone beyond 20 feet in the long jump. Regardless of what happens next weekend, no one can steal Friday’s spotlight from Leacock.
“It means everything. I had a lot of fun and now I’m smiling,” Leacock said. “I wanted that record freshman year when I came here; I didn’t get it and it’s my senior year and I finally got it. I want to break it again before I leave.”
Leacock also sits third on the UI chart in the outdoor long jump at 19-11 ½. The school record is held by Aisha Jones at 22-3, set in 2003.