Jessica Woodard couldn’t have picked a better time to turn in the best performance of her life.
Woodard, a 2013 Cherokee High graduate and currently a freshman at Oklahoma, threw the discus a personal-best 176-8 to place 11th at NCAA West Regionals and qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Woodard was seeded 28th with her previous PR of 173-0, set at the Rafer Johnson-Jackie Joyner Kersee Invitational last month at UCLA.
The top 12 finishers from each of two regional meets this weekend advanced to the NCAA Championships June 10-13 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Woodard was sitting in 16th place after throwing 167-9 on her first attempt and was in 21st place after fouling on her second throw. But she powered her way into the top 12 on her third and final attempt.
She wound up qualifying by eight inches.
Woodard is now the No. 5-ranked freshman in NCAA Division 1, behind Katelyn Daniels of Michigan State (193-9), Maggie Ewen of Arizona State (186-8), Josie Natrasevschi of Brown (183-9) and Agnes Esser of Minnesota (178-5).
One other record Woodard broke Friday has stood for more than 26 years. That’s the Burlington County alumni record in the women’s discus.
On May 6, 1989, Pemberton graduate Lillian Rivera, competing for Texas Southern in the Southwestern Conference championships in Houston, threw 174-6. That stood as the best throw ever by a Burlington County native.