COLUMN BY BAILEE COFER
This past weekend the Drake men’s and women’s track and field teams traveled to Iowa State University for the ISU Classic. It was a highly competitive meet and Drake athletes produced many strong performances across all events.
Taryn Rolle, a junior at Drake University, had a great day of triple jumping, but experienced one of the most disappointing situations a track athlete can be faced with: inaccurate competition measuring/timing. This mistake cost Rolle a valid new PR and new school record in the triple jump.
The jumping events use technology to measure the length of jumps more accurately and efficiently than manual measuring provides. In the long and triple jump, athletes usually have two boards that they can jump from.
The “board” is a white board on the runway, before the sandpit, that jumpers must begin their jump from. If a jumper’s foot goes over the edge of the board, that jump is invalid. A laser machine is used to measure all jumps and is calibrated from each board.
At the ISU meet, Rolle’s first jump was her best jump and was good enough to allow her to pass her final jumps.
In jumping events, athletes get three “preliminary” jumps, and then the top bunch are qualified to compete in three “final” jumps. Preliminary jumps are valid in competition and so, if an athlete is satisfied with a preliminary jump, she can opt to sit out the final jumps, and her preliminary jump will be used as her mark in final competition scoring.
Rolle’s first preliminary jump was measured at 12.77 meters, which was a new PR for her—and a school record. The old record was 12.44 meters, meaning Rolle broke the record by more than a foot.
However, during the final jumps, the measurements being recorded did not appear to be accurate to the spectators, and the officials were informed of the issue.
After all the jumps had been finished, the officials checked the calibrated laser measurement with a manual measurement and found that the laser measurement was inaccurately reading the length of the jumps, giving jumpers longer measurements than were actually being produced.
This meant that all the triple jumps at the ISU meet were rendered invalid and unusable outside of scoring the meet, so Rolle’s and others’ marks could not be used as seed marks for NCAA meet qualifications or school records.
Rolle says this situation was extremely frustrating because she knows that she probably did set a new school record, but she can’t know for sure how far she actually jumped because of the error, and her jump cannot count as a new record or PR.
“I know what I jumped,” Rolle said. “As a jumper, you can feel it when you compete. That first one was the record. And while it is frustrating that it didn’t count, now I know I have the potential to jump that distance. I just have to do it again at Conference.”
The Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships are in two weeks, and Rolle is currently seeded in top standing, even without her invalid ISU jump. She says that she is trying to keep her confidence up these next two weeks despite the disappointment at ISU.
“I have goals that I want to reach, and to be so close and have them taken away is upsetting,” Rolle said. “The situation can cause you to ask yourself, ‘Did I really jump the record, can I do it?’ It causes you to focus on keeping your mental attitude positive and staying confident despite the disappointment.”
Rolle says that she is confident that she can win the triple jump at conference.
Her goal is to jump 13 meters, which would qualify her for NCAA Indoor Nationals. While her triple jump performance at ISU turned out to be disappointing, her season has been going well and is a strong indicator of a great MVC performance awaiting her.
While Rolle is unfortunately unable to be our featured PR of the week, the ISU meet was host to yet another school record by Reed Fischer.
To our weekly readers, thank you for your loyalty, and yes, this name should sound familiar: Fischer grabbed the school record in the 3k last week, and this weekend he set the school record in the 5k. That is two school records within two weeks, each being broken by more than a second. Not all heroes wear capes.
We aspire to get better each meet, and after each meet we will share one athlete’s new best mark. This week’s featured PR: Reed Fischer, 5k, 13:55.27 – new school record (previous PR: 14:28.88, previous school record: 13:59.71).