A Records-Rich Rebound For Jasmine Moore

Moore lived up to her “157“ nickname bestowed by metric-minded Gator coaches Mike Holloway and Nic Petersen. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

YOU COULD CALL IT the rebirth of Jasmine Moore as a jumper. Florida’s jump star won her fifth and sixth NCAA titles in Albuquerque and became the first in American history to top both 7-meters in the long jump and 15 in the triple.

As impressive as that sounds, it’s even more laudable when one realizes what the 21-year-old went through to get atop that podium again. By any measure, last year was a successful campaign for Moore: a clean sweep of SEC and NCAA titles in both jumps indoors and out, plus she made the team in both events for the World Championships.

Yet she pointed everything at the Worlds in Eugene, where she had hoped to put up a good fight against the world’s best after failing to make the triple jump final in Tokyo the summer before. However, she struggled, missing the final in both of her jumps by just one place.

“Worlds was very difficult for me,” she explains. “It was super hard, you know? Whenever you miss finals by one spot, in two events, it’s like… dang. It hurt.

“I remember going back to school in the fall. I was like, I do not want to be here. During track season last year, I found out my dad had cancer. That was really hard for me. So just to come back to school, I was like, I don’t want to be here because I just feel like I need to be with my family. I wasn’t really happy with track at the moment because the last time I did it, it didn’t go well.”

Eventually, Moore turned it around. It helped that her father recovered well from his health scare. She made the decision to channel her disappointment on the Eugene runway into what became the best winter of training in her life.

“I definitely pushed myself harder in the weight room,” she says. “I didn’t go super hard last year because I had just transferred here. We were trying to figure that all out, as far as what worked for me. So going into this year, we knew what did work for me and we pushed a lot harder on that. And then on my running and my plyos, I went up on the volume this fall. I pushed myself all around a lot harder than I did the year before.”

You saw the results in Albuquerque. Moore came in once again the double SEC champion, with season bests of 22-8 (6.91) and 47-4½ (14.44). On Friday, she attacked the long jump, nailing a big 23-¾ (7.03) on her opening effort. That added more than 3 inches (10cm) to the Collegiate Record and tied her for No. 3 on the all-time U.S. list.

Moore admits she’s not good at guesstimating her distance when she jumps: “Some people, as soon as they land get all excited because they know it’s a far jump. For me, I don’t know until it pops up on the board, so my reaction is probably later than others.”

When she saw “7” appear on the board, she says, “It was definitely very emotional. I wanted to cry, but the competition was going on, so I couldn’t do that. I was just very overjoyed.”

She adds, “In the beginning of the season, maybe I didn’t believe that [I could go that far], but at SECs I jumped 6.91. I knew that was a couple of centimeters off the Collegiate Record and in my head the goal was 6.95 (22-9¾), so to hit 7-meters was extremely special.”

It also fulfilled half of a prophecy: “All season long, coach [Mike] Holloway and coach Nic [Petersen] have been calling me ‘157’ — they knew that 15-meters and 7-meters were special numbers for my events.”

After a second jump of 22-6½ (6.87), Moore wound it down and started recalibrating for the next day’s triple jump. “After the long jump I was waiting around, I was just getting very anxious. I was like, OK, I need to go back to the hotel, do my bath, go to bed so I could get ready for the next day, because my goal was to do both and perform at a high level in both.”

Moore has to file the previous event away in order to get ready for the next: “You just have to act like it didn’t even exist sometimes, like, what you did was great, but you have to put it on the back burner in order to do well on the next one.”

On her opening jump in the triple, she bounced and soared her way to an American and Collegiate Record of 48-4½ (14.74). It’s not uncommon, after a record, for a top jumper to ease up, either intentionally or not. Moore couldn’t afford that luxury. “I definitely had to bring myself down and keep on going,” she says, “because I knew there was good competition still.”

Jump No. 2 was more than a foot farther, 49-5¾ (15.08). Suddenly Moore was No. 5 in world history. Her next attempt was 48-7½ (14.82), the No. 2 jump in U.S. history. She fouled her fourth attempt, giving the statisticians a break. In round 5, she flew 48-9 (14.86) for a new No. 2 in U.S. history.

Then came her final attempt: 49-7¼ (15.12) — another American and Collegiate record. All five of her fair jumps are now the top 5 all-time on the U.S. and NCAA compilations.

Perhaps most importantly, she had fulfilled the other half of the “157” prophecy: “For that to come to fruition was very exciting. I could see all of my hard work pay off for those moments right there. I was just so happy in the moment.

“I was so grateful that coach Nic had me keep going because my best jump ended being the last one. That just proved to myself that my body can physically handle that impact. I know I’m going to have to do that at other meets and international meets. Outdoor season is long, so just to know that my body can handle that was a good factor.”

Moore is a veteran of the sport, and knows that altitude helped, as well as the runway. “It was raised, and those are the best ones for jumping, because they’re bouncy. The speed and the bounce definitely helped with my jumps this weekend.”

She points out another factor, perhaps the most important: she’s a different competitor than she was last year: “Coach Nic has been working with me on confidence. In order to get the results that I wanted, I knew I was going to have to have the most confidence and be good on my approach and phases and everything like that. I knew that was the main thing. Coach Nic has been working with me this whole season for moments like that.”

Now that the dust has settled on her historic weekend, Moore looks forward to a spring break visit with her family before she refocuses on school — two more months and she’ll have a degree in marketing. She has already applied to grad school at Florida.

As for jumping, she says, “I feel very happy, very thankful. My body is tired, but other than that, we’re good and we’re excited for outdoors for sure.”