Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By JACK ROSSI
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Growing up in London, Jahisha Thomas did not see herself running track, but her journey has led her to the forefront of the Iowa track and field program.
At the annual Black and Gold Intrasquad meet Dec. 9, Thomas set three meet records in the 60-meter hurdles (prelim and finals) and long jump. While those scores do not officially count, they serve as benchmarks moving forward and give her big goals for her upcoming junior season.
“I want to make national indoors in both the long jump and hurdles,” Thomas said. “In the outdoor season, I want to try for the European Championships and make nationals in Oregon. I want to make top three there, too. I don’t want to just participate, I want to compete.”
Flashback two years ago, Iowa’s program was an unknown to Thomas when she was looking for schools. In fact, she never even made an official visit before arriving in 2014.
“Everything I did was online,” Thomas said. “The power that their website had brought me here as well as the ambiance, character of the people, coach (Joey) Woody, and their schooling program.”
“I saw all the facilities online. I like surprises so when I got here I was blown away by the magnitude of the buildings.”
UI assistant coach Clive Roberts recalls Thomas’ recruitment and the former Hawkeye who introduced them to her.
“Babatunde Amosu, who was a Big Ten triple jump champion for us, had talked about putting us in contact with Jahisha Thomas,” Roberts said. “She was one of his training partners in England, so I reached out to her. The whole process moved quickly.”
Thomas committed and she set the long jump school record last year with a 20-4 1/2. Thomas is expected to take the next step in 2017 in three events — 60-meter hurdles, long jump, and triple jump.
“Jahisha is quite an athlete,” Roberts said. “Her hurdles were good at the intrasquad meet. She’s going to have her hands full with hurdling, triple-jumping, and high-jumping this season. That’s a tough thing to do, especially in our conference. Those are probably the three hardest events to compete in.”
Thomas will have a home field advantage in 2017 with a total of five home meets on the docket on the team’s new track. Staying in Iowa will be a change of pace for Thomas and a program that is used to being on the move.
“The track is reactive and springy,” Thomas said. “I am able to translate what I have into positive energy, so when I am running and taking off onto the board, the power I create compliments with the track.”
“We hope she takes that next step,” Roberts said. “We haven’t had a serious athlete in horizontal jump on the women’s side since Renee White. So I am excited for this season.”
Thomas and the Hawkeyes are back on campus after the New Year, hosting the Border Battle on Jan. 7 in their second home meet of the indoor season.