Griz track & field: Corvallis standout Booth impressive in NCAA debut

Montana redshirt freshman Jane Booth may have tied for 30th in the high jump on Friday on day two of the NCAA West Regional at Texas’s Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, but some 30th-place finishes are more impressive than others.

Booth cleared 5-8.5, the third-best jump of her life dating back to her days as a prep standout at Corvallis High. It was the same height cleared by the final two jumpers who made the 12-athlete cut to nationals.

The top 10 finishers all cleared 5-10.5. Twenty-one more cleared 5-8.5, a group that included Booth.

“If you made 5-8.5 on your first jump and had no misses previously, you were in a jump-off to determine 11th and 12th place,” said coach Brian Schweyen.

“Jane could have been in that spot, but I also think with the way she’s been jumping and looking, she could have made 5-10.5. I think she believes that too.”

Booth, the only Montana athlete competing on Friday after junior Jessica Bailey had to pull out of the steeplechase because of a lower-leg injury, cleared the event’s opening height of 5-4.5 on her first attempt.

She needed all three attempts to get over 5-6.5, then missed her first two tries at 5-8.5, which left her with one final jump to remain in the competition.

“She was on an emotional roller coaster today with her attempts, which is always tough,” said Schweyen. “It can be kind of easy to cash it in from there.

“She did a great job of hanging in there and getting over 5-8.5 on her third jump and giving herself a jump at a bar that would have sent her to nationals.”

She missed three times at 5-10.5. Still, it was a very good debut for an athlete who missed the entire indoor and outdoor seasons last year because of shin problems.

Booth went 5-7 just once during the indoor season. Her jump on Friday was the third time this spring she has gone 5-8 or better.

“This experience has just been phenomenal for Jane,” said Schweyen. “She wasn’t able to jump last year with everything she went through, so to do what she’s doing now, it’s absolutely incredible. She can walk away from this meet with her head high.”

Athletes from Air Force, Arizona, Texas Tech and UNLV tied for first. Nebraska’s Petra Luteran and Arizona’s Karla Teran finished first and second in the seven-athlete jump-off to determine places 11th and 12th. They were the final two athletes to advance to nationals in two weeks at Eugene, Ore.

Montana’s final chance to advance someone to the NCAA Championships will come on Saturday evening, when senior Sammy Evans competes in the triple jump, junior Matt Quist in the high jump.