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Long-jumper hopes to reach new lengths at collegiate level

BY AMY TIFFANY | DECEMBER 02, 2010 7:20 AM

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Iowa women's track and field head coach Layne Anderson has high expectations for freshman long-jumper Carisa Leacock, a Trinidad and Tobago native,

"Anytime you jump over 20 feet in high school, you're outstanding at any level," Anderson said.

Anderson and assistant coach Clive Roberts — the main coach working with Leacock — might have lofty standards for the freshman. But if Leacock can accomplish what her coaches believe she can, she could put the Hawkeyes at the head of the Big Ten.

The reason for recruiting Leacock was simple: Her performance was elite, Roberts said.

"For track and field, it's about training, progressing, getting stronger, and then matriculating through the conference and performing at a high level," Roberts said. "My expectation for her this year is to go and win the conference meet.

"Some may look at that and say that's maybe too high of expectations, but that's what we brought her in for."

Leacock signed with Iowa late in the recruitment process and did not even get the chance to take an official visit to campus. Tuesday was the first day Leacock ever saw snow.

"Back home is just rain, sun, that's about it," she said. "I told myself I wanted something extremely different from back home so that I can get a lot more experience under my belt and make me a better person and a better athlete."

But the transition to the Midwest has been a pretty smooth one for Leacock.

"Whenever you bring in that caliber of an athlete, you expect that they transition [well] and they [will] perform at a high level when called upon," Roberts said.

Roberts said Leacock's strengths lie in her explosiveness, power, and athleticism, as well as acting as another resource for the group of jumpers to learn from. She said her main focus right now is to build up her strength and speed to create a longer jump.

She started as a 100- and 200-meter sprinter, but after battling injuries, she switched to the high jump and long jump. After spending time with both, she found her niche in long jump and committed to solely competing in the event. At the time, she was 16.

Her personal record— 20 feet and 4 inches at the 2010 national championships — is a distance she wants to better while at Iowa. It happened on her fourth attempt at the championships. During the jump, Leacock said she experienced a feeling she'd never experienced in a jump before and knew it was different.

"I really did think I did something great when I finished jumping," she said. "My legs felt different."

The second she begins the jump, her mind is blank, head is up, she said — and she is completely focused on the task at hand.

"When I'm on the runway, I'm a whole different person, as they say," she said. "It's a good thing my coach videotapes everything I do so I can sit down and watch it, because I really don't know what I do."

Though her first college competition has yet to take place, both Roberts and Anderson were overwhelmingly supportive of Leacock's talent.

"I have no reason to doubt she isn't going to do anything other than pretty much outstanding things," Anderson said. "She'll be a name people watch and admire in the years ahead."


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