Cherokee graduate Jessica Woodard just keeps getting better and better.
Woodard, now a sophomore at Oklahoma, placed third in the shot put at the Big 12 Championships at the Lied Recreation Center on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa., where she improved her shot put PR more than a foot — from 54-6 to 55-7.
She moved up from No. 18 in NCAA Division 1 to No. 12 and earned a berth in the NCAA Championships, scheduled for this weekend in Birmingham, Ala.
This will be Woodard’s first NCAA championships in the shot. She placed 17th in the discus last spring as a freshman.
Woodard set her previous shot PR of 54-6 in January at the J.D. Martin Invitational on Oklahoma’s home track in Norman, Okla.
Woodard’s 55-7 ranks her No. 21 among all U.S. women and No. 51 in the world, according to the IAAF rankings.
Woodard, whose PR was 51-8 1/4 coming into this season, now ranks third in Oklahoma history indoors, behind Tia Brooks (63-0 3/4 in 2013) and Karen Shump (58-11 1/2 in 2011).
She’s the No. 2 sophomore in the country and No. 5 underclassman.
Woodard had three throws of 54-8 or better at the conference meet. She opened with a foul but then went 52-9 and 54-9 to finish the trials and 54-8, 55-7 and 53-1 1/4 in the finals. So she PR’d three times.
Woodard’s best throw in her freshman year outdoors was 50-10 3/4, but she was the No. 6 freshman discus thrower in Division 1 with a 173-0 throw.
Woodard also placed seventh in the weight throw at the Big 10 Championships with a PR of 61-0 1/4.
At Cherokee, Woodard won Meet of Champions titles in both the shot and discus and was a national scholastic champ in the shot put.
Woodard set South Jersey records of 168-10 and 47-1 1/4 at Cherokee.
Woodard went into Big 12 competition ranked 18th but had a big-time performance, recording two personal bests last weekend in Ames, Iowa, that pushed her to 12th on the qualifying list. Her 55-7.00 replaced her previous 54-6.00-career mark as third best in program history.