Jessica Woodard added to her remarkable resume Thursday with her best performance yet at NCAAs, another PR and All-America honors.
Woodard, an Oklahoma sophomore seeded No. 8, bombed a two-foot shot put PR of 58-8 at the NCAA Division 1 track championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., and placed third in the to earn All-America status for the second time. She also earned All-America honors in the shot indoors, when she placed eighth with a 55-11 as the No. 12 seed.
Her mark qualified her for U.S. Olympic Trials back in Eugene next month, assuming 24 other U.S. women don’t surpass her.
Along the way, she beat the No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No. 6 and No. 7 seeds.
Mississippi’s Raven Saunders, ranked No. 4 in the world, was a huge favorite and won with a 63-5 bomb, a meet record and collegiate record. The previous college record was 62-3 3/4 by Meg Ritchie of Arizona in 1983, and the previous meet record was 62-1/2, set by Oklahoma’s Tia Brooks in 2013.
Woodard’s 58-8 surpassed her PR of 56-9 1/4 set last month at the Big 12 championships, where she also placed third.
Her mark was far enough to win the NCAA shot put title 20 times since the event was added to the NCAA docket in 1982.
It’s also No. 2 in Oklahoma history, behind a 62-2 1/2 by Tia Brooks in 2013. Brooks is now No. 1 in the U.S.
Woodard’s marked moved her up to No. 31 in the world this year and No. 11 among all American throwers. Here’s what the current U.S. leaderboard looks like, with all the 58-foot throwers listed:
- 64-8 3/4 … Tia Brooks
- 63-5 … Raven Saunders
- 63-2 1/4 … Felisha Johnson
- 62-3 1/2 … Jillian Camarena-Williams
- 61-5 … Michelle Carter
- 61-5 … Jeneva Stevens
- 60-10 1/2 … Kelsey Card
- 60-4 3/4 … Brittany Smith
- 59-7 1/2 … Daniella Bunch
- 59-1/4 … Chase Ealey
- 58-8 … Jessica Woodard
- 58-4 3/4 … Erin Farmer
- 58-2 … Monique Riddick
Woodard, a Marlton native and Meet of Champions winner in the shot and discus at Cherokee and national scholastic shot put winner, had a PR of 47-1 1/4 in high school, so she’s improved more than a foot in the last two years. Her best throw as a freshman was 50-10, so that’s a nearly eight-foot improvement in a year.
Woodard’s career best in the discus is 177-9, when she was third in the Big East last month. She didn’t qualify for NCAAs in the discus.
Woodard opened with a 50-1 1/4 and followed with a 54-1 3/4 before recording her 58-8 on her third throw, her final throw of the trials. The top nine throwers advanced to the three-throw finals, but the order of the top three didn’t change – Saunders, Chase Ealey of Oklahoma State (59-1/4) and Woodard.
Woodard closed with throws of 54-8 and 54-7 1/4 before fouling on her final attempt. No. 2 seed Kelsey Card got off her best throw, a 57-11, on her final attempt, but fell nine inches shy of Woodard.
At last year’s NCAA Championships, Woodard was 17th in the discus and didn’t compete in the shot put.
“Jess Woodard – what a huge throw,” Oklahoma coach Jim VanHootegem said on Oklahoma’s web site. “It’s really fun to see her blossom into this type of thrower.
“Last year, she came to this meet and didn’t make the finals in the discus. For her to score in the shot put in two championships this year shows she’s really establishing herself as a national presence.”
Woodard was one of three Oklahoma throwers to earn All-America honors at NCAAs. Senior Julia Reedy threw 213-5 for fourth place in the hammer and senior Liz Herrs was eighth in the javelin with a throw of 170-9.