BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | JUNE 08, 2009 7:26 AM
Iowa women’s track and field senior Renee White was calm as she approached the pit in the triple jump during the Big Ten championships in Columbus, Ohio. The result was the largest jump in Big Ten and Iowa history, and it defeated the second-place finisher by more than 9 inches. It was also 2 inches longer than White’s previous season best.
She always had the monster jump in her — she just had trouble with her nerves when it came time to perform at meets. It became something her coach, Clive Roberts, felt she needed to overcome in order to be successful in her last season with the Hawkeyes.
“We’ve been working on controlling her temperament, keeping her at an even keel,” he said.
White earned an at-large bid at the NCAA championships in Fayetteville, Ark., after jumping 41-71⁄4 to take 12th place in the NCAA Midwest Regional finals. While the jump was not her best of the season, it was enough to get her to her ultimate goal coming into the season and kept alive her dream of becoming a national champion.
White and her coach are not messing around — the two are all business in their preparation for her final collegiate meet and a chance to be an All-American. One of the most drastic changes is the complete focus on the jumping events and a move away from the running events that White has excelled at in the past.
“Renee and Coach Roberts agreed that they were going to focus on the jumps,” Iowa head coach Layne Anderson said.
This being her last meet for Iowa, she feels compelled to do well. The memories and past achievements would be that much sweeter to look back in if she were able to add All-American to the list.
The expectation to do well has pushed White to accept Roberts’ advice on controlling her emotions, making her sound almost Zen-like when discussing how she expects to do.
“I just want to discipline my body and discipline my mind to go out there and jump farther than I ever have,” she said.
The jump at Big Tens was the catalyst for White’s postseason, proof that she could put up jumps with the best in the country. Now, she and the coaches want her to put up with another powerful showing.
“Coach Roberts has been saying all year that she has that big jump in her,” Anderson said. “The challenge has been maintaining the consistency.”
Consistency from the Big Ten championships to the NCAA championships will be crucial, but all White will need to do is to place that one perfect jump that she got a taste of earlier in the season.
Place or not, the senior from Portmore, Jamaica, will look to influence those around her by pulling from past advice.
White said: “My coach always told me to keep my emotions in check, that you never know who’s watching or who you could inspire.”