USATF Women’s Long Jump — Familiar Faces Absent

Sha’Keela Saunders made the most of an unfriendly headwind. (KEVIN MORRIS/PHOTO RUN)

There was a lot of talk before and during the meet about the “off year” being a down one for the Nationals. Perhaps in no other event was there more truth to this than the women’s long jump.

For one thing, multiple World Championships gold medalists Brittney Reese and Tianna Bartoletta—who had taken turns winning the last 4 USATF titles and 9 of the last 10—didn’t compete, the former calling her season quits after a win in Poland in May and the latter just being off-form. With ’13 winner Janay DeLoach having recently retired, it was guaranteed that there would be a new champion this year.

The winner turned out to be Sha’Keela Saunders, with her second-round leap of 21-5½ (6.54). Quanesha Burks moved up to 21-4¾ (6.52) on her fifth try to take the silver. Last year, Saunders and Burks had finished 3rd/4th behind Bartoletta and Reese. Both Saunders and Burks were former NCAA champions, for Kentucky and Alabama, and both have represented Team USA internationally, Saunders at last year’s Worlds and Burks at this year’s World Indoor. Heptathlete Kendell Williams finished 3rd, just 1½ inches (4cm) behind Burks as only four broke 21-feet.

The winning distance was the shortest in these championships since ’02 (another “down year”). This was at least partly due to the fact that the prevailing winds were negative, often significantly so. (Saunders’s best jump had a headwind of 2.2mps and Burks’s best was into a 2.5.)

“Last year’s performance was better in distance, but I got the win this time,” said the 24-year-old Saunders. “I’m excited about that. I’m just so happy and you know the next two championship years are very important to make teams so hopefully I can repeat that. I tore my hamstring in February,” she added, “so I couldn’t compete indoors, but I’m glad that I got that out of the way in my first season post-collegiate so I know how to deal with that now. I’m back, I’m healthy and I’m excited to continue my season.”


USATF WOMEN’S LONG JUMP RESULTS

(June 23)

(winds ranged from +0.3 to –3.2)

1. Sha’Keela Saunders (adi) 21-5½ (6.54)

(f, 21-5½, f, 21-1¼, 21-4¼, 21-1½) (f, 6.54, f, 6.43, 6.51, 6.44);

2. Quanesha Burks (unat) 21-4¾ (6.52)

(20-10, 20-9¼, 21-2¾, 21-1½, 21-4¾, 21-2½) (6.35, 6.33, 6.47, 6.44, 6.52, 6.46);

3. Kendell Williams (unat) 21-3¼ (6.48)

(f, 20-1¾, 21-3¼, 21-1¼, 20-6¼, 20-10¾) (f, 6.14, 6.48, 6.43, 6.25, 6.37);

4. Jasmine Todd (Nik) 21-1½ (6.44)

(f, 20-8½, 20-1¾, 19-10¼, 21-1½, 20-1¾) (f, 6.31, 6.14, 6.05, 6.44, 6.14);

5. Malaina Payton (unat) 20-11¼ (6.38);

6. Savannah Carson (Pur) 20-9¾ (6.34);

7. Darrielle McQueen (Fl) 20-7¾ (6.29);

8. Baileh Simms (unat) 20-6½ (6.26);

9. Kylie Price (unat) 20-4½ (6.21);

10. Madisen Richards (USC) 20-4½;

11. Chelsea Hayes (unat) 19-10¾ (6.06);

12. Taliyah Brooks (Ar) 19-10¼ (6.05);

13. Sarea Alexander (IncW) 19-9¾ (6.04);

14. Sydney Conley (unat) 19-8 (5.99);

15. Tristine Johnson (unat) 19-6 (5.94);

16. Shylia Riley (Nb) 19-4¾ (5.91);

17. Melanie Winters (unat) 19-1½ (5.83). □

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