Ackelia Smith, a former Edwin Allen High jumper from the University of Texas, clinched the women’s long jump title at the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas on Thursday.
Smith, who entered the competition as the world leader with a mark of 7.09m, relied on her sixth and final jump to secure victory with a distance of 6.88m. This achievement marked the second gold medal in the women’s long jump in the school’s history. Two years ago, Tara Davis set a collegiate record of 6.93m to claim the Longhorn women’s first gold in the event, a record that still stands.
Smith faced elimination in the third round after fouling her first two jumps. However, the Texas sophomore rallied with a jump of 6.10m, keeping her in the competition. In the third round, Smith improved and took the lead at 6.68m. Her lead was short-lived as Stanford freshman Alyssa Jones leaped 6.86m in the fourth round, seizing control. Smith responded with a fifth-round jump of 6.81m, securing her second-place position. In the final jump of the season, Smith landed at 6.88m, surpassing Jones, who finished second at 6.86m.
Jasmine Moore of the University of Florida, who was considered a title favourite, claimed the bronze medal with a leap of 6.66m on her final jump.
“This is my track; I’m not going to lose on it,” Smith said moments after her dramatic win. “My team needs the points. I’m definitely not losing.”
Smith will have the opportunity to contribute more points to the Texas women’s team total on Saturday when she competes in the triple jump finals.
In another remarkable feat for Jamaican athletes, former Kingston College (KC) jumper Carey McLeod of the University of Arkansas claimed the men’s long jump title on the opening day of the championships on Wednesday.
McLeod, who had previously claimed the 2023 NCAA Indoor title on his final jump, equaled the facility record set by Steffin McCarter of Texas in 2021 with a winning mark of 8.26m in the opening round.
Pinnock, the defending champion and also a former KC athlete, took the silver medal with a jump of 8.15m, resulting in a one-two finish for the University of Arkansas.
Kentucky’s Jordan Turner, a former Calabar High jumper, challenged Pinnock with an effort of 8.13m, securing the bronze medal and completing a remarkable 1-2-3 finish for Jamaican athletes.