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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Stepping up to the challenge

    UA junior Liz Patterson leaps over the bar during the high jump competition at the Jim Click Classic on April 3 at Drachman Stadium. Patterson took second at the 2008 indoor season national championships but is looking to defend her title in the outdoor season.
    UA junior Liz Patterson leaps over the bar during the high jump competition at the Jim Click Classic on April 3 at Drachman Stadium. Patterson took second at the 2008 indoor season national championships but is looking to defend her title in the outdoor season.

    An athlete’s success is gauged upon how they perform against top-notch competition. Often times, if an athlete is able to perform at a high level against the best, it usually translates into championships.

    In the last two years, Arizona track and field junior Liz Patterson has held her own against some of the best high jumpers in the world, which has turned her into an All-American and national champion.

    In 2008, she proved to be one of the best in the nation when she beat eventual Olympian Sharon Day in the NCAA Outdoor National Championships when Patterson was just a sophomore.

    “”It was definitely unexpected because Sharon was the prohibitive favorite and so we weren’t expecting that,”” said UA head coach Fred Harvey. “”But what she’s been trained to do is to get in there and compete and let the results take themself at the end of the meet.””

    She then carried that momentum into the 2008 indoor season where she went undefeated leading up to her classic dual with Texas high jumper Destinee Hooker.

    In the competition, both matched one another jump for jump. Patterson jumped her personal best mark of 1.95 meters and the best jump by a Wildcat since 1990 when Julieanne Broughton cleared 1.94m. Though she had one of her best performances ever, Hooker proved to be a tad better on that day as she jumped 1.98m.

    Though Patterson lost a chance at her second consecutive national championship, her opponent had to jump the best jump in the history of NCAA Indoor championships in order to beat her.

    “”It showed her mental strength,”” Harvey said of Patterson’s performance. “”I’m a firm believer that once you get to this level there is a lot of talent out there and when you get to this level there is a fine line that separates the great ones.

    “”Everyone cannot be great, the thing that stops them from being great has nothing to do with their physical ability,”” he added. “”It’s all mental.

    Though her performance received a standing ovation by those in attendance at College Station, Texas and was one of the best high jump performances in NCAA indoor history, she was still unable to escape the feeling of losing after being so close.

    “”I was really disappointed because I really wanted to win that meet,”” Patterson said. “”But at the same time I was happy with the way that I performed even though I lost. It gave me motivation to keep training hard for the outdoor season.””

    The junior expects to see Hooker again in competition in the near future as she prepares to defend her outdoor championship from a year ago.

    “”I know she will be there and I might have to try to beat her,”” Patterson laughed at the possibility of meeting Hooker for the national championship.

    Patterson has made significant progress since her freshman year. She described herself as an “”OK jumper”” coming out of high school, but better coaching and workouts at the college level have transformed her into an All-American athlete.

    “”I remember my freshman year when I first came here. I remember being so sore from doing all this stuff I wasn’t used to doing,”” said Patterson. “”The different things we do in practice and weight training has helped a lot.””

    The Rowlett, Texas, native was named a team captain by the Arizona coaches, who have seen her mature first hand.

    “”She has progressed tremendously,”” said Harvey. “”The biggest thing about Liz has been her maturity as she’s gone through the years. Everyone knows she’s a very talented young lady but there are a lot of people that have talent and never perform at the level that she is performing at.””

    The All-American has already qualified for the NCAA West Regional Championship with her showing at the Jim Click Classic earlier this month and is currently preparing to defend her outdoor national championship from a year ago.

    “”My main goal is to win nationals this year,”” Patterson said. “”It’s a really good feeling that I would like to feel again.””

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