By Marquis Munson | Contributing Writer
For Alabama’s Quanesha Burks, the fifth time’s the charm.
On her fifth attempt of the day, Burks jumped a wind-aided 22 feet, 8 inches in the women’s long jump. She had another attempt, but she didn’t need it as she finished her record-breaking outdoor track and field season winning the biggest prize of them all.
Burks went into the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships with the top seed in the long jump competition and walked out of Eugene, Oregon, with the 2015 NCAA Championship.
“My coaches [have] been there for me and humbling me,” Burks said. “My family also been supporting me and without them I wouldn’t have made it this far.”
The sophomore sprinter and jumper from Hartselle, Alabama, finished with a leap of 22-8, her personal best, to win Alabama women’s track and field team its first NCAA long jump championship. She became the first women’s NCAA champion in a field event for the Crimson Tide since Beth Mallory won the discus in 2005.
“She’s a tremendous competitor,” head coach Dan Waters said. “She had complete focus and you can see by her body language and the way that she was handling herself she was poised to win.”
Burks continues to rewrite history in the long jump competition. She currently holds nine of the 10 best marks in Alabama’s school history. She also won the school’s first SEC outdoor women’s long jump championship since 1990. Her leap 22-5 1/4 tied an SEC meet record set by former Ole Miss athlete and Olympic champion Brittney Reeves.
“She has had a lot of success to this point but there is still things she’s done before,” said Miguel Pate, long jump coach and alumnus of Alabama. “Winning as an underdog is great because nobody sees it coming but winning that second one is even harder because everyone expects you to do that again.”
In his senior year at Alabama, Pate won a 2002 NCAA men’s indoor title in the long jump competition.
“Coach Pate told me to just go out there and stay consistent,” Burks said. “He prepares me every week, he sets out a plan and we just execute that plan so he has played a huge part. To look at him and know that he is a national champion it’s like I’m following in my coaches footsteps.”
Freshman Filippa Fotopoulou also joined Burks in the long jump competition as the No. 19 seed after placing seventh in the NCAA East preliminary. She made her first national championship appearance and finished 21st.
Burks along with Ahmed Ali, Tony Brown, Steven Gayle, Jeremiah Green and Tadishi Pinder were named U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s (USTFCCCA) Division I First Team All-American. She also was named Second Team All-American in the 4×100-meter relay. Sixteen other Crimson Tide athletes made both the second team and honorable mentions list.
In all, Alabama sent 18 athletes to Oregon, including 10 men and eight women.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports