Familiar Approach: Alabama Track and Field teams ranked nationally

Familiar Approach: Alabama Track and Field teams ranked nationally

UA Athletics

04-11-14 MWTR Border Clash Quanesha Burks. Photo courtesy of Amelia J. Brackin

Kelly Ward

She still does both, but only one – the long jump – has her as the No. 1 seed at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“Last year, I really didn’t know what I was doing, but now that I have a better understanding from my coach [assistant coach Dick Booth], now at practice we can talk about it because freshman year, he would tell me things and I would just listen and I’d be like, ‘OK, I’m just going to do that,’” Burks said. “Now, I have a feeling, and I know what I’m doing out there, and I just love the process of it and just to get the big jumps out there and to celebrate because I never thought I could jump how I’m jumping.”

This year, she’s jumped as far as 21 feet, 8 3/4 inches which gave her a No. 1 seed in the women’s long jump at the national championships and a No. 6 ranking in the world.

“Obviously, having Quanesha being the top-ranked long jumper in the nation, she’s really earned it,” head coach Dan Waters said. “She’s been incredibly consistent this year in her efforts. What I mean by that is starting out with a big jump and building from there. Like her SEC performance was pretty impressive. Each and every jump kept getting better and better and farther and farther and going to the region championships and just taking one jump and winning it on the first jump and being done.”

At the 2015 SEC Outdoor Championships, she jumped 22-5 1/4 to win the title.

“Well, I knew I had a good takeoff but I didn’t know it was going to be that far, and I’m still learning meters so I didn’t know what 6.84 was, but my coach confirmed it was really far so I just knew that it was far afterwards, but I really didn’t think it was that far,” Burks said.

Burks is also on the women’s 4×100-meter relay team.

It’s her second time to compete in Oregon. She made it last year in the long jump and the 4×100-meter relay. The relay team finished sixth which earned the four All-America honors. Burks was named an honorable mention All-American in the long jump.

“Mentally, I feel like I’m better than I was last year and just sticking to what I’ve been doing the whole outdoor season and not trying to change anything and just having a plan with my coach and just going down there and execute it,” Burks said.

Joining Burks in the women’s long jump is freshman Filippa Fotopoulou, who is seeded 19th after finishing seventh at the NCAA East preliminary.

Alabama is competing in four individual women’s events and one women’s relay, the 4×100-meter. The women’s team is ranked No. 25 by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.