Context is everything in field & track. Keturah Orji’s new Collegiate Record in the triple jump didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. The Georgia senior, competing in her final SEC Championships, had won the long jump with a brilliant PR of 22-4¼ (6.81) on Saturday night, taking the yearly collegiate lead and adding to the power of a Bulldog team that will be very much in the fight for a national team championship.
Afterwards, coach Petros Kyprianou revealed to her that earlier that day Tori Franklin had broken Orji’s American Record in the triple jump. “He told me that my record went down, so the next day I was like, ‘Oh yeah,’ I definitely was thinking about it and was trying to get my record back.”
Her series featured three big fouls where she was trying to knock it out of the park. The final round 47-11¾ (14.62) fell short of what she wanted, but still topped her CR of 47-8 (14.53), a mark she set in ’16 and tied indoors this year. Her extended-season PR remains her 48-3¼ (14.71) from her 4th in Rio.
Even so, Orji, who was hampered by injury last year, feels confident about her situation. “I’m definitely healthier,” she says. “Last year I was dealing with some injuries and that’s why I kept jumping the same thing. I’m definitely in better shape overall than last year. My speed is feeling a lot better on the runway.”
One would think the new CR would lead off her personal SEC highlight reel, but Orji says the long jump was the bigger deal. “It definitely meant more to win the long jump just because that’s my secondary event and I’ve never won any major championship in long jump,” she explains. “I felt a lot more excited about my PR and win in the long jump just because I know that that’s not something that I’m usually able to do.”
As for chasing that triple jump record, she says, “I know I have time left in the season and I just need to be patient to make sure I get everything right and can get that jump out there. I’ll be really happy also if I PR, even if I don’t get the record back.”
For now, however, the bigger focus is trying to capture NCAA title No. 7 (the only thing that has kept her from a perfect slate was a 2nd to Ciarra Brewer of Florida at the Indoor as a frosh). The overwhelming favorite going in to Eugene, Orji says, “I just don’t think about what the rankings are or what people are thinking. I’ve just got to focus on what I’ve done before and try to execute that again, so I don’t really focus on the hype.”
At the USATF meet, she will be facing Franklin. “I’m excited to jump against her now that she’s broken the American Record,” she says. “It’ll be really good competition. I know American triple jump has not been good over the years, so just to have both of us in the top 5 in the world is really great for us and for the country.”