Lakes leads four Mid-Columbians at West Regional track championships

Craig Craker, Herald staff writerMay 20, 2012 

How quickly plans can change.

Richland graduate Shaniae Lakes was just hoping to make the finals of the NCAA West Regional Track and Field championships this weekend.

Now, she is hoping to make the national championship meet.

The University of Washington junior set the school record in the triple jump May 13 in Eugene at the Pac-12 championships.

“I’m just really happy it all came together at the right moment,” Lakes said of her 43 foot, 3 1⁄4 inch jump. “Especially at the Pac-12 championships, when there was all that competition.”

The mark shattered Tara Davis’ record of 41-73⁄4 set in 1995. Lakes finished second behind Oregon’s Lauryn Newson, who leaped 43-4 1⁄4.

“It was a bit of a surprise,” UW jumps coach Pat Licari said, “but not in the sense that we weren’t sure that she was capable of doing those types of things. She has some great potential, and she is starting to tap into that a little bit.”

Lakes will represent the Huskies at the West Regionals Thursday-Saturday in Austin, Texas. She will compete at 4:30 p.m. PDT Saturday.

There will be 24 competitors at the West Regional, and the top 12 will advance to the national meet June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa. She is seeded fourth in the west, nearly .3 meters ahead of the 13th seed.

“I hopefully will PR again,” Lakes said. “That’s all I can ask for, is to keep getting better. If I can PR, I'll be happy with that.”

She is one of four Mid-Columbians who will represent Washington schools at the regional meet. Washington State's Courtney Simmons-Kirkwood (Othello) and Christine Kirkwood (Othello) will compete in the javelin Thursday, while teammate Andrew Gonzales (Southridge) will run in the 3,000-meter steeplechase Friday.

Lakes graduated from Richland in 2009, finishing second at the state meet her senior year and graduating with a personal best of 39 feet.

Since then, she has improved in leaps and bounds.

She competed in the heptathlon and triple jump her freshman year, but decided to just concentrate on the single event in order to fine tune it.

"I've just been improving my form and that has been helping me go a lot farther," Lakes said. "I've known I can jump a lot farther than I did in high school, I just had to start from the ground up."

At the Pac-12 championships, Lakes didn't just have the one big jump. She actually broke the school record four separate times. She had never gone further than 42 feet in her career, but did that three times in Eugene, eventually getting the big mark.

"She loves those situations where she is challenged like that with the competition level she was in," Licari said. "She always does well at the higher level.

"We think there are even bigger and better things in there, too."

For example, the mark from the Pac-12 championships is just .01 meters from hitting the provisional standard to compete at the U.S. Track and Field Trials in Eugene in June.

"It's a possibility," Licari said. "If she continues to do the kind of things she's doing, she could put together that kind of mark to get there. It wasn't something we were talking about directly, but it is in the back of her mind for sure. It would be awesome."

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service