AMES — Iowa State women’s track and field assistant coach Andrea Grove-McDonough drove Jasmine Staebler and Jhoanmy Luque from College Station, Texas, to Houston after the 2016 Indoor NCAA Track and Field Championships.
Luque, a horizontal jumper, let the nerves of her first NCAA Championships get the best of her.
“We were just talking about her nerves and how she didn’t really handle that well,” said Grove-McDonough, who is the women’s distance coach.
Both Staebler and Luque have qualified for the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. The Championships begin Wednesday and run through Friday. Staebler, a junior, is a two-time All-American and Luque, a senior, is an eight-time All American.
Staebler qualified in the 800-meter race and Luque qualified in both the triple jump and the long jump.
Both athletes have come a long way since their first NCAA Championships. They both know how to handle big moments.
“(Staebler) tends not to get too high or too low,” Grove-McDonough said. “She’s also really good at handling the ups and downs you get in any given season. The first part of this outdoor season, it didn’t look like things were going great for her.
“She was running pretty close to what she can run — she had some 2:04s — but she wasn’t feeling great and she wasn’t looking great, per se. But she trusts her training and my ability to make changes or adjustments if necessary.”
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Grove-McDonough said that Staebler is an excellent communicator and that’s why Grove-McDonough is able to make the changes she needs to, in order to put Staebler in the best position possible before a race.
“She’s also just so darn competitive that she just turns it on — I don’t think she can help it. At the outdoor Big 12 Championships, again, she wasn’t feeling the best, she felt kind of flat, but she’s one of those athletes that finds a way to make it to the finish line and beat people. That’s a special quality. And finally, come the regional championships, she was looking great and peaking at the right time.
“She handles the moment, she uses her nerves as an asset in big moments.”
Luque’s career is coming full circle. The Iowa State coaches discovered Luque at the 2014 Junior World Championships, which was also in Eugene, when she was jumping for Venezuela.
Now, as a senior, she gets to close out her illustrious career in Eugene. Luque has the fifth-best triple jump in the nation heading into the championships at 44 feet, 11 inches, but she said her goal is to get into the top three.
“(Staebler and Luque), they’re not afraid of the big stage,” Grove-McDonough said.
The Iowa State men are sending Jaymes Dennison in the 800-meter run, Eric Fogltanz in the 400-meter hurdles, Edwin Kurgat in the 5,000-meter run and the 1,600-meter relay team of Ka’van Berry, Dennison, Roshon Roomesnd Fogltanz.
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