Cougar Track and Field
sees off another All-American
By Tom Carpenter
Daily Cougar Staff
Jenny Adams said her father best described
her when she was in high school.
"My dad used to tell me after I would compete
in my track meets, 'Not bad for a skinny-legged white girl,'" Adams said.
Arriving on a campus rich in ethnic diversity
was a bit of a shock for a girl from a predominantly white high school
"It was a new environment, a different
culture, one I didn't know or understand," Adams said. "Going to school
here opened horizons and broadened my perspective of life and the world
Adams claims she was just another athlete
in high school, not even the best athlete in her family.
Senior Jenny Adams ended
her collegiate career with her personal best and with the NCAA title in
the long jump. She moves on to professional competition.
The Daily Cougar
"My brothers used to compete against me
and beat me every time. Now they won't try it, for whatever reason," Adams
The record book shows she was a Class 5A
state champion in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles and set the 5A record
in the 300-meter hurdles her senior season in high school.
A little known fact to most track fans
is that Adams earned All-American honors as a cheerleader during her high
As NCAA Indoor and Outdoor long jump champion
her senior year at UH, Adams failed to qualify for the state championships
in the long jump in high school.
"I was a good jumper, but when I got to
UH, coach T (former Cougar track and field head coach Tom Tellez) switched
my jumping leg from my right leg to my left," Adams said.
Two NCAA championships later, coach Tellez's
decision to switch her launching leg appears to have been a stroke of brilliance.
"He said I had too many bad habits jumping
off my right leg to correct," Adams said. "I thought he was crazy, but
I put my faith in him. I had to totally trust him. Every athlete faces
Adams said UH's coaching staff was the
main reason for her decision to attend UH and not the University of Texas
or Texas A&M with her friends.
According to Adams, high school athletes
usually do what feels right to achieve maximum results, even though it
may not be the right form.
"You have to get over that and trust your
coaches. Some athletes never make that leap of faith," Adams said. "That's
what separates champions from those who never reach their full potential."
Adams leaves behind a track and field legacy
that will land her in the UH Hall of Fame.
She was the Conference USA Freshman of
the Year before becoming an 11-time All-American in the long jump and 60-meter
hurdles, and two-time NCAA champion in the long jump.
Adams saved her best leap for last.
"Carol Lewis told me she loved being the
first one to jump because if you nailed the first jump, the rest of the
field gets rattled," Adams said.
Adams fouled on first leap at the 2001
NCAA Indoor championships, but she established a career best mark of 21-11
on her second jump, leaving the rest of the competition in her wake.
"They got nervous and started fouling because
they were trying to match my jump," Adams said. "I knew I had to hit a
good one because one girl (Elisha Williams of Mississippi State) jumped
21-07.25 in the first flight, which is a very good leap. But I was relaxed
about it and confident I was going to do well."
Assistant track and field coach Mike Takaha,
who coached Adams in the hurdles, said it was a tough meet for Adams to
perform at her best.
"Her events were run back-to-back. She
warmed up for the long jump and then had to run the preliminaries in the
hurdles, then come back and compete in the long jump," Takaha said.
A professional track career awaits the
Cougars' queen of track and field.
Track and field head coach Leroy Burrell
said Adams is one of those athletes every coach would like to have on the
"I didn't have a great deal to do with
coaching Jenny, but having her on the team was a pleasure," Burrell said.
"Her leadership and accomplishments inspired everyone around her. I'm going
to miss her."