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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Patterson readies for outdoor track and field championships

Arizona high jumper Liz Patterson will take the last jump of her collegiate career today when she competes in the NCAA National Outdoor Championship at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. 

The senior will try to relive the memories of 2008, when she won her first national championship against highly favored Sharon Day of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as a sophomore.

“”It was so overwhelming. I felt like I could accomplish a lot more in track and field,”” Patterson said. “”I had a different understanding and love for the sport.””

Day, who is the sister of Patterson’s current teammate Jasmin Day, went on to compete in the 2008 Olympics, one of the reasons Patterson was surprised to come away victorious at the time.

“”I don’t think it really sunk in until after the meet,”” Patterson said of her surprising championship performance. “”I wasn’t expecting to win that day. I knew I could do really well, but I wasn’t expecting a championship.””

As Patterson’s collegiate career comes to an end, the memories of how she got to this point still remain fresh.

The journey to Eugene began in Patterson’s senior year at North Garland High School in Rowlett, Texas. Patterson recalls the first visit to Tucson while still a senior at North Garland.

“”When I came on my (first) visit here I really liked it,”” Patterson reminisced. “”It was so much different from back home.””

The senior credits the people in the program for influencing her decision to become a Wildcat.

“”I didn’t get the chance to meet everyone on the team, but the people I did meet, I really liked,”” Patterson said. “”I felt a strong connection with them, and I felt I could do really well in this environment.””

The senior still vividly remembers her first time ever jumping as a member of the Arizona track and field program at the Lumberjack Invitational in Flagstaff, Ariz.

“”I was really nervous the morning before we jumped. It was my first jump in a collegiate meet and I just wanted to do well and do what coach (Sheldon Blockburger) told me to do,”” Patterson said.

“”I had a really good time after my first jump. I felt relieved and ready for more competition.””

Patterson credits jump coach Blockburger for her development during her career at Arizona.

When the long jumper first met Blockburger, she knew she was in good hands.

“”When he sat down and talked to me, and showed me different videos of high jumps I just knew that he really understood the sport. He knew what it took to become a good jumper,”” she said.

She also had help and support from mentor Daniel Marshall, a redshirt senior.

“”He (Marshall) helped me out, whether it was a ride to practice or some advice about meets, track and school,”” she said. “”He showed me the ropes. He was a really good friend.””

Over Patterson’s four years, she has grown from a nervous freshman who came in jumping only 5 feet, 9 inches to a decorated team captain with a personal record of 6 feet, 4 3/4 inches.

“”She was good for a freshman, but she needed a little more work,”” Blockburger said. “”She needed more training. She didn’t know how to compete, wasn’t real strong and hadn’t figured out high jumping yet. I think she’s improved a lot from then.””

In her four years, Patterson has no regrets.

“”You always have these meets where you should’ve, could’ve, would’ve, but everything happens for a reason,”” she said.

Though Patterson’s Arizona high jumping career will end after the National Outdoor Championships, she will continue to compete at the highest level as high jumper.

“”I’ll stay out here (Tucson) and continue to train and work toward the 2012 Olympics,”” she said. “”That’s my goal.””

 

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