Tag Archives: Sam Draut

Photo by Michelle Lewis

Will Gardner steps up to the spotlight

By Sam Draut

Waiting in the wings for the past two seasons behind Teddy Bridgewater, redshirt sophomore Will Gardner is now at the center of attention.

Replacing one of the programs greatest quarterbacks will be no easy task, but Gardner directed the offense well on his first big stage without the shadow of Bridgewater.

Gardner looked sharp and in control, completing 32-37 passes for 542 yards and four touchdowns in the Spring Game on Friday night.

“It was good to see Will in command of the offense, I liked the way he carried himself, I like the way he took charge in the huddle,” coach Bobby Petrino said. “He looked comfortable in delivering the football and for the most part, he was very accurate with his throws.”

On the third play of the game, Gardner connected with sophomore wide receiver James Quick for a 62 yard touchdown pass down the sideline.

“That was exciting, we said in the huddle we wanted to set the tone early,” Gardner said.

Quick, who believes Gardner throws a harder ball than Bridgewater, reeled in a team high 152 receiving yards.

“He played a great game, he played a well-rounded game,” Quick said.

Quick wasn’t the only receiver Gardner targeted, seniors DeVante Parker, Gerald Christian, and Eli Rogers all had over 100 receiving yards.

“We have a lot of playmakers, it’s hard to get the ball to everyone because we have so many, and it makes the quarterback’s job easier,” Gardner said.

“We have a very good wide receivers corps. DeVante Parker is a very special player, and there’s a good deal of speed and talent around him,” Petrino said. “That’s really going to help our quarterback. He just has to know that the defense and reads are going to dictate who is open, and then he just has to get the ball to that guy and let him make a play.”

With receptions from seven different players, Petrino was most impressed with the way Gardner distributed the ball and went through his progressions.

But, even with his stellar performance, Gardner was hesitant to give himself praise, remaining humble after a dominating audition as the predecessor of Bridgewater.

“We had good pass protection and guys were getting wide open.  When guys are getting wide open, you can’t miss them,” Gardner said. “I put the ball where I can and they make plays.”

Despite delivering the ball well to receivers throughout the night, Gardner did have one mistake, overthrowing a crossing route that was intercepted by Chucky Williams midway through the second quarter.

Gardner was able to learn from his few mistakes and adjust throughout the game.

“He missed one early in the second half, he kind of forced the ball and threw it out of bounds, over DeVante’s head, and we had a guy open down the middle, but he came back in the second half and hit him twice,” Petrino said. “So, he learned as the game went on, and that is going to be important because he is going to have to learn as the game goes on and not make the same mistake twice.”

After an impressive performance to wrap up spring practice, Gardner’s individual improvement becomes critical as players split from the coaches until summer camp.

“I have to grow into the playbook, become more confident, hit the weight room, get bigger and stronger,” Gardner said.

So now, a quarterback that has appeared in just six games and completed 8 of 12 passes for 112 yards in his collegiate career takes over a lethal offensive scheme and a program headed into its first year in the ACC.

“Will Gardner is getting better. He’s getting his timing down and putting the ball where it needs to be more frequently, but we still have to get better there. He’s a very hard worker, he’s got a great attitude and he’s a natural leader, we just have to get him in the situations that he’s going to see in a game so that it’s not a shock for him,” Petrino said.

And as for being a quarterback without the shadow of Teddy Bridgewater looming in the starting spot, Gardner is ready for his time.

“It’s different, but I enjoy it, I have a great group of support around me, great teammates and they all support me,” Gardner said.

 

Photo by Austin Lassell

Louisville women’s basketball advances to Elite Eight with win over LSU

By Sam Draut

Louisville cruised to a 73-47 victory over LSU on Sunday to advance to the Elite Eight.

Shoni Schimmel led Cardinal scorers with 19 points and added six assists.  Tia Gibbs hit five three pointers, finishing with 15 points and five rebounds.  The two seniors combined for eight of the Cardinals season-high 12 three-pointers.

“When Tia Gibbs gives you 15 points in 16 minutes off the bench it is pretty special,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said.

The seventh-seeded Tigers were limited to playing just eight players due to injuries, while Louisville’s bench outscored LSU’s reserves 28-0.  In three NCAA tournament games, Louisville’s bench has outscored opponents 84-2.

‘‘They did all that they could consider, and our bench, they came in and they tried their best,’’ LSU coach Nikki Caldwell. ‘’I’m proud of them for that. We didn’t execute as well as we wanted to.”

Antonita Slaughter scored 10 points.  Asia Taylor pulled down 10 rebounds and added 7 points.

LSU (21-13) held a 12-11 lead through the first eight minutes of the game, but Louisville (33-4) closed the half on an extended 30-11 run, giving them a comfortable 41-23 halftime lead.

During the run, Gibbs connected with two threes on back-to-back possessions.

“I was trying to provide a spark to the team.  Coming off the bench, that is our job,” Gibbs said.  “My teammates did a great job looking for me.”

LSU was led by sophomore guard Danielle Ballard, who finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds.  She had 12 of the Tigers 24 field goals.  Minus Ballard, LSU was just 4 of 42 from the field.

“We had a hard time containing her, but I thought we did a good job on the rest of their players,” Walz said.

Taylor and Sara Hammond were able to slow the post presence of Theresa Plaisance, who scored seven points on 1-of-13 shooting, well below her season average of 15.3 points per game.

Hammond was limited to  16 minutes because of foul trouble, but had five points and eight rebounds.

“We have to get Sara going, we are running out of games,” Walz said. “She is in a little bit of a slump, but I would be shocked if she had three games where she struggled on the offensive end of the floor.”

Through three NCAA tournament games, the Cardinals have outscored their opponents by 46, 30, and 26 respectively.

‘’I think we’re playing really good basketball right now,’’ Walz said.

“We don’t play the score.  We won’t let up on people.  We know there is a lot we still have to work on,” Gibbs said.

Louisville will play fourth-seeded Maryland on Tuesday night at the KFC YUM! Center for a trip to the Final Four.

Walz spent five seasons at Maryland under the direction of Terrapin coach Brenda Frese  before coming to Louisville.

“We know we are going to have our hands full.  They are a very talented basketball team, they have great size,” Walz said. “We know what is at stake.”

AAC indoor hurdling champion Calvin Aresnault

By Sam Draut

Whether he is competing in Barcelona, Spain, Ontario, Canada, or Louisville, Ky., Calvin Arsenault has ran well regardless of what sector of the globe he sprints across.

The junior from Kitchener, Ontario competes in the hurdles, running the 60 meter during the indoor season and the 110 meter and 400 meter races during the outdoor season.

Arsenault logged a third place finish with 14.22 seconds in the 110m hurdles last Friday at the Alabama Relays.

In the Lenny Lyles/Clark Wood Invitational at Cardinal Park this past weekend, Arsenault finished second in the 110m hurdles and fifth in the 400m hurdles.

Arsenault enters the outdoor season coming off an American Athletic Conference championship in the 60m hurdles event for the indoor season though the season didn’t begin as smoothly as it finished.

“The indoor season didn’t start as well as I wanted to, it was more of a slow start, I didn’t start as fast as I wanted to, but as the season progresses, you learn new things, you fine-tune things,” Arsenault said.

Arsenault said the indoor season can be difficult to gear up for, beginning in January, because athletes are just coming off of the preseason.  Additionally, a change in the fall workouts added a bit of a transitional period.

“We actually had a different weight coach, we worked out with the football weight coach this fall, so that added a lot more strength that I am used to, so that helped my foot speed which made my transition to the hurdles more difficult because that means everything is faster,” Arsenault said. “I wasn’t satisfied on what I was running, I started working harder in practice, trying to fine-tune some things and it finally clicked once conference season came around.”

Winning the AAC championship isn’t the first title Arsenault has won; he bagged the Canadian national title in 2011 for the 400m hurdles.

He qualified for the 2011 Pan Am Junior Championships and was a member of Team Canada that traveled to Barcelona, Spain.

“I made the world junior team over in Spain and that was an awesome experience, I made the semi-finals.  Represented Canada really well, I PR’ed, it was a great experience running for your country on European soil,” Arsenault said.

Arsenault, who holds the school record in 400m and 110m hurdles, had a tremendous freshman year at Louisville.  He qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round in the 110m hurdles and had four outdoor victories during the year.

Arsenault decided to run in the United States during his college years.  He connected with University of Louisville sprints coach Terry Winston, who contacted him the end of his senior year.  Arsenault came to Louisville for a visit in July and signed, coming to school the next month.

Despite being from another country, the transition culturally has been no different.

“I come from a decent size city in Canada to a large city here.  The biggest difference was the training and the weight training,” Arsenault said. “I came from a program that didn’t lift weights.  So, to come here where you are lifting three times a week and you’re training six times a week on the track that was more than double from what I was coming off in high school.  So, that was the biggest adjustment, allowing your body to recover quicker to come back for workout after workout after workout.”

With the outdoor AAC championships around a month away, Arsenault has his goals lined up already.

“I want to get another conference title under my belt personally in my individual events and for the whole team to win the conference championship.  I think we have the people to do it and I think we have the motivation behind us to do it,” Arsenault said.

“The NCAAs are separated into two separate meets, you’re going into the first round, I think I have already qualified for the first round, go in there and have strong showing because they take the top 12 there for the NCAA finals.  So if I can a great first round I can qualify for the finals in Eugene, Ore.  My ultimate goal is to be an All-American,” Arsenault said.

Women advance with opening round win over Idaho

By Sam Draut

The University of Louisville Women’s basketball team opened up the first round of the NCAA tournament with a commanding 88-42 victory over Idaho.

Louisville, 31-4, was led by Sara Hammond, who was one of five Cardinals to score in double figures.  The junior forward finished with 16 points on 8 of 13 shooting.

Idaho, 25-9, played Louisville close through the first eight and a half minutes trailing 12-11, but Louisville responded with a 14-2 run, sparked by six points from senior guard Shoni Schimmel.  She finished the game with ten points and 11 rebounds.

“The first four minutes I thought offensively we just rushed. We never got the ball reversed. We were just trying so hard to make things happen. Then we finally slowed down, we worked the ball around,” coach Jeff Walz said.

Junior guard Jude Schimmel also contributed to the burst, scoring nine points in the first half, ending the game with 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting, and adding four assists and three steals.

“Jude is our spark coming off the bench. I think everybody on our team knows that. At the beginning we were kind of a little flustered,” Hammond said. “We were a little too excited to get out there and play. Jude came in and set the tone on defense. I think that’s what started our run.”

After leading 40-21 at halftime, Louisville extended their lead to 63-30 when Tia Gibbs connected on a three with eights minutes into the second half.

Louisville shot 71 percent from the field in the second half.

After missing the run to the National Championship game last season due to injury, Gibbs and Asia Taylor returned to the NCAA tournament.

Gibbs had seven points, four rebounds, and three steals.

Taylor finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Fellow senior Antonita Slaughter connected on all three of her three point attempts, finishing with 11 points.

Stacey Barr, the Western Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year was held to four points on 1 of 7 shooting.  Barr averaged 17.9 points per game.

Third seeded Louisville plays the six seed Iowa on Tuesday night.

“We’re looking forward to it. We’re excited to play every game. Regardless of who we get, we’re going to be prepared mentally and physically,” Shoni Schimmel said. “Today’s game, we got it under our belt. We got the flow of everything. We’re ready to continue and keep playing.”

Men’s basketball coasts through AAC Tournament

By Sam Draut

Louisville defeated UConn 71-61 to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship in at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn. Saturday.

Montrezl Harrell led the Cardinals with 22 points and 11 rebounds.  The sophomore forward’s eleventh double-double of the season was also his third against Connecticut, 26-8.

Senior guard Russ Smith, who had a career-high 42 points the previous night against Houston, scored 19 points and added five steals and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

Both teams battled back and forth through the first half, but after leading 27-21, Louisville (29-5) closed the final three minutes of the first half on a 10-2 run to take a 37-23 lead into halftime.

Smith and Harrell each had 10 points to pace the Cardinals in the first half.

“These two guys were spectacular, Montrezl is similar to Gorgui, he came in a very good athlete and he will leave us someday as a very good basketball because his passing and shooting skills have improved and he may be the smartest player on the team in terms of a scouting report. Certainly no words to describe Russ Smith, he just is having a spectacular senior year,” Rick Pitino said.

In the second half, Louisville extended their lead to 20 points, their largest of the game, with 14:23 left.  Connecticut cut the deficit, but could not bring the game within single digits in the final minutes.

American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Shabazz Napier, was held to four of 12 shooting, finishing with 16 points and four rebounds.

Napier’s backcourt mate Ryan Boatwright struggled, shooting three of 10 from the field and scoring seven points, five below his season average of 12 points per game.

Junior guard Chris Jones finished with 11 points and four rebounds. Senior center Stephan Van Treese pulled down eight rebounds and scored four points.

Louisville has won five games in a row, and 12 out of their last 13.

Louisville tore through Rutgers and Houston in the first two rounds of the AAC Tourney. Beating Houston by 29 and Rutgers by 61.

Over the three-game stretch the Cardinals had 39 steals and forced 64 turnovers.

“We take it one game at a time and we buy into Coach’s game plan. We try to focus on the defensive end because we know if we get a defensive start that’s going to lead to our offensive break,” Harrell said. “Look at our scouting report, pay attention to every little thing to win the game.”

The win marked Louisville’s third consecutive conference championship and Pitino adamantly stated after the game he believes his team deserves a number one seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

“I judge it from the eye test,” Pitino said. “I’m impressed with our guys and what they have done to win a regular season, the conference tournament, the way we have done it in the fashion we have done it fits the eye test.”

 

Photo courtesy of theindychannel.com

Olympian Nick Goepper sits down with the Cardinal

By Sam Draut

Nick Goepper won a bronze medal in the first ever Olympic Slopestyle competition in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  The 19-year-old Olympian grew up in Lawrenceburg, Ind. and recently took time to sit down with the Louisville Cardinal.

Q: How great was it to medal for the country?

A: Medaling for the country and winning a bronze medal was incredible because I not only did it for myself and my family, but I also did it for my nation and brought a new level of pride to the Olympics.

 

Q: Sochi received some negative attention while hosting the Olympics, what was your take on it?

A: The Olympic experience was really sweet because it wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be, a few of my friends who were on the team with me, we were able to have our own little hallway.  So when we got there it was like any other competition and we got into a routine.  And we got used to it and had fun skiing because the course was so big and fast.  Overall, it was a great time.

Q: How long were you in Sochi?

A: I was in Sochi for about two weeks.  It was different than any other contest because we had 10 days of practice before the event.  Usually it is three days of practice before a big event.  I actually didn’t prefer it because it elongated the pressure building process and so the anticipation and pressure built more than if we had just a few short days.

 

Q: Was it different preparing for the Olympics?

A: The preparation or training process wasn’t too different from X games or any other big event because I practice or ski as much for any big event.  I try to ski as many days I can and think outside the box to try to learn new tricks and other creative ways to hit the course.  So, I treated it like any other contest.

 

Q: Indiana isn’t known as a skiing hotspot, how tough was it to get your career started?

A: Growing up in Indiana was the best thing for me, it humbled me and gave me greater appreciation for the bigger mountains and the skiing world that existed outside of the Midwest.  It made me more hungry and more determined to make it to the level that I am at because I didn’t have as many privileges and opportunities that I would have if I lived in Colorado or California where the ski industry is much more present.

 

Q: Where did you start?

A: I started at Perfect North.  I skied there since I was five years old.  I did my first back flip when I was eleven years old.  I made my dad drag me around different contests regionally in the Midwest.  We drove around to different contests until I was 15 and then I moved out to Portland, Oregon and went to a school out there.

Q: How big was the move out west for your career?

A: When I moved out west I think I saw an improvement because that is when I met my coach, Mike Hanley, which really benefited me a lot.  I thought he was crazy and didn’t know what he was talking about, I thought I did everything right, but then I got there and he said ‘you’re doing this wrong and that wrong’.

 

Q: How long have you been sponsored by Red Bull?

A: I have been a Red Bull athlete for a year and a half now.  They signed me this past October (Fall 2012).  It was the year after I had gotten my first podium at X games in Aspen.  They saw potential in me and I was so ecstatic to gain a sponsor with Red Bull because they are one of the most supportive action sports companies out there.  They can open up a lot of doors.

 

Q: What is the next step for your career?

A: I want to go to a couple more Olympics and keep competing in the X games.  I want to focus on more of creative skiing and make some sweet videos.

 

Q: What is your life span as a skier?

A: With my sport, most guys teeter out mid to late 20s, but I want to take it into my 30s.

 

Q: Any final thoughts about your career thus far?

A: I do it because I love it and I am passionate about it.

seniors

No. 11 Louisville beats No. 19 UConn 81-48

By Sam Draut–

No. 11 Louisville celebrated the careers of the four seniors who have seen the most wins in their careers in Cardinal history as Louisville routed No. 19 Connecticut 81-48 on Saturday at the KFC YUM! Center.

Stephan Van Treese, Tim Henderson, Luke Hancock, and Russ Smith were all honored before the game, then started and played integral roles in the Cardinals first victory over a ranked team at home this season.

Montrezl Harrell led Louisville (26-5) with 20 points and 11 rebounds, his ninth double-double of the season.

“He’s an incredible basketball player right now. He’s improved his passing. He’s improved his dribbling. He’s improved his one-on-one moves,” coach Rick Pitino said.

Hancock paced the seniors in scoring, hitting four three-pointers, finishing with 16 points and three rebounds.

But Smith stole the show, passing his way to a career high 13 assists.  In 30 minutes of play, Smith took just two shots from the field, scoring three points and adding four steals.

“I can’t ever imagine Russ Smith, knowing him, on senior night, would pass up all opportunities to score and get 13 assists. It shows you how much he has grown,” Pitino said. “He got to play point guard and he knows the role of a point guard, which is pass before shot.”

Van Treese, starting his ninth consecutive game, pulled down a season high 13 rebounds and scored six points.

“We need him to play exactly the way he played,” Pitino said. “We need him because now he’s a legitimate player that helps us win the game so now we fully expect him to play that way every night.”

Tim Henderson logged 14 minutes in his first career start and scored two points.

Louisville opened the game on a 17-5 run through the first eight minutes.  Connecticut (24-7) started the game 0 of 8 from the field, but settled in an trailed 30-18 at halftime.

“If we can play that stifling defense, we are a tough team,” Pitino said. “We have been playing 90-100% man this season, and tonight we went all zone, which I thought we played awesome.”

Connecticut’s offensive struggles stemmed from a poor performance from the Huskie’s backcourt of  Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright.  UConn’s two leading scorers combined for 13 points on 4 of 24 shooting from the field.

“The biggest focus on the game was wearing those two guys out physically without fouling,” Pitino said.

After going five games without hitting a three-pointer, Wayne Blackshear connected with three on Saturday and finished with 11 points.

Chris Jones added 10 points off the bench.

With the win, Louisville won a share of the AAC regular season title with Cincinnati.

“We are happy with it, as long as we have a share of it,” Pitino said. “I think that is great and they have had a terrific season. We are excited about it. We will share it with anybody and we had a great season. I am very proud of our guys. ”

Russdiculous

No. 11 Louisville beats No. 18 SMU 84-71

By Sam Draut–

Russ Smith scored 22 points in the second half, hitting six three pointers, leading eleventh ranked Louisville to an 84-71 win against eighteenth ranked Southern Methodist.

The Cardinals second road victory over a ranked team this season was sparked by the senior guard, who finished the game with 26 points, six rebounds, and five assists.  Smith was 6 of 6 from behind the arc.

SMU blitzed Louisville early, going up 18-5 through the first eight minutes.  After falling behind 26-12, the Cardinals finished the final six minutes of the half on a 20-4 run, taking a 32-30 lead into halftime.

Chris Jones kept Louisville afloat in the first half, scoring 13 of his 21 points before the break.

Louisville (25-5) led SMU 43-41 with 13 minutes left in the second half when Smith connected with three three-pointers in 84 seconds.

SMU (23-7) cut the lead to 55-54, but Louisville received another 11 point scoring burst from Smith to put the game away.

Montrezl Harrell scored 19 points and pulled down eight rebounds.  Luke Hancock added 15 points.

The sixth consecutive sellout crowd in Dallas saw SMU’s first home loss of the season, the Mustangs had previously defeated three ranked teams at Moody Coliseum.

Louisville wraps up the regular season with a home finale against UConn at the KFC YUM! Center on Saturday.  The Cardinals are guaranteed at least a share of the AAC Regular Season title with a victory over UConn.

Photo by Austin Lassell

Five long years culminating for Van Treese

By Sam Draut

Stephan Van Treese won’t be a thousand-point scorer or rank among the top rebounders in Louisville history, but the fifth year senior has contributed during the most successful era in the Cardinal program since the early 1980’s.

Van Treese came to Louisville from Indianapolis in 2009.  He was ranked 67th nationally by USA Today and was an AP All-State selection.

Though he played sparingly as a freshman, Van Treese first left his mark as a hustle man when he came off the bench against UConn and had a steal and layup, helping to trigger the Cardinals to an 82-69 victory in front of a sold out Freedom Hall crowd.

“As a freshman I showed everyone I could come off the bench and be a spark.  I have tried to do that throughout my career,” Van Treese said.

During his sophomore year, Van Treese began to see expanded minutes, starting 12 games and appearing in 33 contests.  He averaged 4.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in Big East Conference games and shot 70.5 percent from the field during conference play.

Van Treese struggled with injuries his junior year in 2011-12, Louisville’s first trip to the Final Four since 2005.

But, last season Van Treese played big minutes during Louisville’s run to the National Championship.

“Last year I came off the bench and contributed, I backed up Gorgui (Dieng),” Van Treese said.

Van Treese averaged 11.2 rebounds per 40 minutes, which was second best to Dieng.  In the Big East tournament against Villanova, Van Treese pulled in eight rebounds.  He averaged 3.7 rebounds in nine postseason contests.

Now in his final season at Louisville, the 6-foot-9 forward is playing 20.2 minutes per game and pulling in 5.1 rebounds a contest.

“Everything has slowed down in a sense, I know what to expect,” Van Treese said. “I know what to expect throughout the season.”

In the past eight games Van Treese has 49 rebounds, averaging 8.2 rebounds and four points per game.

“Physically I have gotten much bigger and I have gotten more confident in my game being able to play more,” Van Treese said. “This year I have been filling in the role I’m supposed to — being a hustler.”

As a senior, Van Treese has shared the five spot with redshirt freshman Mangok Mathiang, but even with the shared playing time, he sees the two putting forth a collective effort.

“It is not just me, it is me and Mangok. We have to be rebounding and doing the defensive things for the bigs,” Van Treese said. “We don’t have to put up big scoring numbers, but we do need to score when we have the opportunity.”

With a Final Four and National Championship under his belt, Van Treese has a strict idea of what happens next.

“Winning it all is the main goal, we want to continue our win streak and go into the conference tournament and win that.  We want to get a good seed,” Van Treese said.

“It has been a grind,” Van Treese said.  “This is my fifth year and hopefully it is another successful year.”

And if he needs a career tidbit besides winning basketball games, Van Treese is the final player to suit up for the Louisville program to play in Freedom Hall as a Cardinal.

photo courtesy of gocards.com

Track star Brittany Owens jumps in front of competition

By Sam Draut

The University of Louisville track and field teams have wrapped up the regular season and head off to

the AAC Conference Championship, but not before Brittany Owens headlined the regular season.

Owens has been a stand out thus far, collecting two victories at the Meyo Invitational and the Hoosier

Hills Invitational in long jump.

The sophomore from Boise, Idaho registered a mark of 6.11 meters in the Meyo Invitational and 5.99

meters in the Hoosier Hills Invitational.

Her personal best of 6.11 meters is good for the top mark in the American Conference and ranks her

26th

 nationally.

After her impressive showing at the Meyo Invitational, Owens was named AAC Women’s Field Athlete of

the Week.

“I was honestly really shocked that I got it. I set my personal record which was nice and I won the Meyo

invitational with 20 feet and half an inch, so I was really happy and pleased with that, but I want more so

I am working for that,” Owens said.

Along with the long jump, Owens also competes in the triple jump, an event that she holds the American

Conference’s fourth best mark in.

“I love triple jump, but it is very hard on my ankles, coach doesn’t have me doing it as much, I’m hoping

to be on podium for that at conference, so I’m working for that too,” Owens said.

The AAC Indoor Conference Championship begins this Friday and runs through Saturday. Two weeks

later, on March 14 and 15 Nationals take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“I want to qualify for nationals. So, I’m just working towards getting those victories and hopefully

getting a victory at conference,” Owens said. “It is the top 16 marks in the country, so I would have to

jump a couple more inches to get that.”

Owens has begun to hit her stride after moving nearly 2,000 miles away from where she was the two-
time Idaho Girls Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year.

“It took a lot getting used to, there are a lot of different things coming into play when you go from high

school, so making that adjustment is probably the hardest part,” Owens said.

“It was definitely hard, not having a support system at first is hard,” Owens said. “But then you learn

you do have a support system with your team, your coaches, your friends and it makes the transition a

lot easier.”

During her freshman year, Owens competed in both the indoor and outdoor seasons, winning her first

outdoor event in the long jump at the Border Battle. She also opened her career at the Hoosier Open

with first place finishes in the long jump and triple jump.

Now in her second year, Owens progression has helped her to become a top contributor on the team.

“My freshman year I had a lot of problems with the board, I was fouling all of the time, on a very good

day I would jump a 19-foot-8,” Owens said. “Now I can consistently hit that no problem. It is nice to

know I can contribute to the team even on a bad day.”

And despite being so far away from home, Owens believes she found the right fit.

“I love this University, everyone is so supportive and not just for the big teams, but for everyone. It

really helps knowing you have a big family to support you along the way,” Owens said.

Owens will continue work towards her goals as she continues to star for the University of Louisville track

team.

“Going into conference, I want to come out with a win in long jump, I want to beat the school record,

I want to place in triple jump, and I want to qualify for nationals,” Owens said.