It’s been 27 years since a San Diego State track member has won a National Collegiate Athletic Association championship.
SDSU senior Whitney Ashley, who competed in the women’s discus competition on June 6 at the NCAA Track and Field Championships, became the first SDSU student to win an NCAA title, team or individual, since 1985.
Ashley is the fourth national champion from SDSU. She defeated 23 other entrants with a throw of 196 feet, 10 inches. The mark, a Mountain West record, was enough to earn Ashley a trip to the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. this past week.
“It was unbelievable,” Ashley said. “Once I made the finals (after three throws), I just went for it. I was nervous, but I calmed myself down and just let it go. When the throw finally registered (on the scoreboard), I was ecstatic. I know it’s a cliché, but I’ve never really believed that dreams come true until today.”
“We are extremely proud of Whitney,” SDSU head coach Shelia Burrell said. “It was an amazing competition to watch. Since I’ve been here, we’ve been trying to take this program to the next level and build an Aztec legacy. Today was a big step in the right direction.”
At the U.S. Olympic Trials, Ashley failed to advance, finishing 22nd of 24 with a toss of 153 feet, 3 inches. Ashley would have needed to finish among the top 12 in order to advance to the finals.
Former SDSU track star Melinda Smedley also failed to qualify for the 100-meter dash. She finished 25th out of 35 entrants with a time of 11.55 seconds.
Sophomore Allison Reaser, another Aztec participating at the U.S. Olympic Trials, took sixth in the heptathlon at the NCAA Championships,whilesophomore Shanieka Thomas finished as the runner-up in the triple jump.
Thomas, as well as SDSU track and field assistant coach Dorian Scott hope to represent Jamaica in the 2012 Olympics. Scott was a 2008 Olympian in the shot put. This was his first year coaching the Aztecs.