As Jamila Janneh stumbled down the steps of her dorm building last Thursday, her freshly prepared chicken Alfredo fell to the ground with her.
“I was having a rough week,” the sophomore jumper said.
Shortly after Janneh dropped her lunch, she boarded a bus with the rest of the track & field team and embarked for the Fred Harvey Invitational in Richmond, Va. When Janneh returned to Main Campus a few days later, she was the new school record holder in the outdoor triple jump – having broken the 28-year-old mark set by Carla Daniels in 1986 – with a 12.30 meter performance last Friday.
“The record was in sight, and that was my goal by the end of the season,” Janneh said. “I was so frustrated after the indoor season. I was inching closer and closer [to 40 inches] and it wasn’t exactly there. Breaking the record was wonderful. It was awesome. I was so excited I jumped up and down.”
The meet was highlighted by a jumper on the men’s squad too, as senior Gabe Pickett put together two days of strong performances. In his second meet back from injury, Pickett took second in the triple jump and secured his second Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America-qualifying mark of the season. A day later, Pickett placed first in the long jump among a field of more than 30 competitors.
Pickett tore his meniscus in August and had knee surgery shortly after. The recovery was a five-month process, but coach Eric Mobley said Pickett is getting closer to where he left off last spring.
“I put forth a lot of effort to put myself back into track & field shape,” Pickett said. “I’m trying to get better. A lot can be attributed to my teammates – they never gave up on me.”
Pickett’s mark of 6.98 meters on Saturday was just shy of a personal-best. During his first eight days as an active competitor this spring, Pickett has placed in the Top 3 in each of the events he participated in.
Janneh said Pickett has been among the biggest role models on either squad. One of Pickett’s favorite moments of the weekend occurred when Janneh set the school record with her performance on Friday.
“I was overjoyed,” Pickett said. “I was like a little kid when I heard. We high-fived and hugged. It motivated me to do well.”
Mobley said former Owl and current indoor triple jump record holder Edith Lewis stopped by the track & field facilities last week for a visit. The six-year coach informed Lewis that one of his student-athletes was closing in on her record. Janneh was less than four inches short of Lewis’ indoor mark, but she has more than two season of eligibility left to attempt to get there.
“Jamila is putting everything out there and landing her jumps – letting the performance come to her,” Mobley said.
Janneh said breaking the school record was the best moment of her track & field career with the Owls, having spent her entire sophomore campaign working toward achieving her goal of reaching the 40-feet mark.
Looking toward the rest of the season, however, Janneh has a new objective in mind.
“I’m looking forward to breaking my record,” she said.
Avery Maehrer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AveryMaehrer.