Wyoming’s Ja’la Henderson Jumps at the NCAA Championships
The journey for Wyoming junior jump star Ja’la Henderson has landed her at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, OR.
Henderson will compete Thursday in the long jump and Saturday in the triple jump. She’s trying to become the first Cowgirl All-American since 1980 in the long jump and the first ever Cowgirl in the triple. She is seeded 20th for the long and third for the triple in a field of 24.
She said she’s excited to see how high of a level she’s at.
“I’m gonna have really good competition to push me, because throughout the year I really don’t get that until towards the end. So, it’s like really exciting to see how, like, I respond to the high level of competition, so I’m extremely excited to see what’s in store, and if I can even place up top with these girls. It will be a true honor and to represent the school, as well.”
Henderson admitted she relishes this caliber of competition. She also says the piece she wants to improve is at the end of her jumps.
“We’ve (Assoc. Coach Quincy Howe and me) watched my film and went over certain things. My technique is pretty decent, but like my landing, I’m losing a lot of distance, so if I can just put everything together at this one particular meet, then I might have an opportunity to be up there (near the top).”
Both Wyoming Associate head coach Quincy Howe and Henderson are happy the long jump is first, and then the triple is second in her order of events.
Howe said, “I do (like it). It worked out really well, and we have a plan in place to navigate that scenario, so it’s good.”
Ironically, Henderson made the NCAA Championships with her best marks on her first attempt in both events.
Howe said, “It’s the way we train. It’s something that we know to get into it, you have to be ready off the bat. It’s not a small meet, it’s not something that you can kind of work your way into. You’ve got to hit it, hit it hard early and see where things fall. It’s something we do by design.”
Howe also touched on how Henderson hasn’t leveled off, but actually jumped further as the season has gone along for the triple jump.
“She’s hasn’t scratched anywhere close to what her potential is. Her getting better and better each week isn’t that much of a surprise. Even though its elite jumps that she’s doing, it’s still so new to her that just like someone learning something new and getting better in big chunks, that’s what’s happening, it’s just at a much, much higher level.”
The long jump begins at 6:30 p.m., Mountain Time Thursday for Henderson. She will compete in the triple jump Saturday at 4:30 p.m., MT. Coverage is on ESPN2 Thursday at 5 p.m., with Saturday on ESPN at 4:30 p.m.