AMES — Before Iowa State jumper Joahnmy Luque even begins her attempt, the Big 12 official at the LaserLynx — the laser measuring system used to measure the distance of the jumps — moves his laser down the horizontal metal bar a few feet from where he has it set for the other jumpers.
He knows what’s coming.
Luque stampedes down the approach.
The senior’s foot hits the white board, it makes a satisfying “pop,” and she propels herself forward into the sand pit.
Luque and the official repeated this routine 12 times on Friday and Saturday at the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships — six times in the long jump and six times in the triple jump.
She only had two faults in the 12 jumps — both in the long jump. But outside of those, every single one of her jumps would’ve won her a Big 12 Indoor Championship.
In her final attempt at the long jump Friday, she jumped early, before she even reached the board, and still went 20 feet, 9 inches, which was still 3 inches better than second place.
Luque’s winning jump went 21 feet, 1 1/4 inches.
In the triple jump, her best jump on Saturday was 44 feet, 4 inches — a season high. Second place was more than 2 feet shorter at 42 feet, 2 1/4 inches.
Luque won her fourth and fifth Big 12 titles on Friday and Saturday — she won the indoor long jump and triple jump last season, too.
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“It feels amazing,” Luque said. “Coming into this meet, I wanted to defend both titles. I wanted to win again since this is my last season. I did it and I’m really proud of myself and all the hard work that I put in to practice.”
Fans and athletes from every Big 12 school around the long jump pit were wowed every time Luque jumped.
One Texas Tech fan said in amazement, “She’s a frog” describing her incredible leaping ability — jaw halfway to the ground.
Luque, a Valencia, Venezuela, native, started in track and field when she was 7 years old.
She didn’t like the running events, so she decided to try jumping. Her decision worked out for her.
“It’s just years of practice,” she said. “I’m really fast, so that helps me with my jumps. Also, I know I have very good technique. Sometimes I’m at a disadvantage because I’m little compared to the other competitors, but just having good technique and being fast and doing this my whole life helped me a lot.”
In February 2014, she was competing for her home country of Venezuela when the Iowa State coaching staff reached out to her about possibly competing for Iowa State.
The only problem was, she didn’t speak English.
The World Championships were later that year in June in Eugene, Ore. Luque was competing and Iowa State’s staff was there as well.
“We went through the process of taking the SAT and learning English,” said Luque, who now speaks English very well. “Then when I met coach at Oregon at worlds around June, they told me that I was accepted to Iowa State. A month later, I started classes.”
She never even took an official visit.
Luque is used to jumping into things without any hesitation.
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