Evans keeps streak alive
Rose-Hulman's Evans wins third consecutive outdoor title
LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Rose-Hulman’s Liz Evans isn’t a coal miner’s daughter, but she is a coal miner’s granddaughter who uses her tough, active heritage as an asset.
Exercising that toughness, she won Friday’s high jump at the 2013 NCAA Division III Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Championship, topping 1.79 meters (5 feet-10.50 inches) to set a stadium record at host Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Roger Harring Stadium. It is her third consecutive outdoor high-jump title in and her fifth overall.
“I am very strong mentally, not only physically but mentally,” Evans said. “I can handle going to bigger meets and DI meets and going up against competition that’s a lot better than me. In order to win [Friday], I had to handle the crowd of people that had cleared [five feet, seven inches] and the crowd of people that cleared the next height.
“Being mentally strong has helped me out through all of those times and that’s what makes me as good as I am.”
It’s not boasting when it’s fact. The senior from Bicknell, Ind. is only the second Division III athlete to win five national titles in the high jump. Friday’s feat also secured her eighth All-American honor.
Evans won the event when she cleared 1.76 meters, the only woman to do so. Pressing on, she asked for the bar to be set at 1.79 in an effort to build up to 1.82; the Division III outdoor championship record is 1.81 meters.
“I didn’t want to jump straight to 1.82,” she said. “I wanted to have an intermediate jump in there.”
She cleared 1.79 on her second attempt then attacked 1.82, coming up short in three attempts.
“I really wanted it, too,” she said, smiling. “And I was very close, but just not in the straws [Friday].”
Friday’s high jump featured a strong field that both concerned and encouraged Evans. Top-ranked and seeded, she is used to battling herself, but with competitors clearing progressive heights at the same pace, she had to adjust to the challenge.
Only two other women cleared 1.73 meters (5-8), WPI teammates Julie Eagle, a senior, and sophomore Laura Pumphrey, who tied for second. The jumpers that finished fourth through 10th place all cleared 1.70.
“It was wonderful to have the competition,” Evans said. “The field was wonderful this time. They had to clear 5-7 in order to get on the podium. And these past couple years it’s just been 5.5 or 5.6. It’s great.”
Evans’ ultimate reward is an eight-hour drive home to Indiana so she can participate in Rose-Hulman's Saturday commencement exercises. She completed a five-year degree program in four years, earning dual degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering, while jumping her way into multiple record books.
Next on her schedule is graduate school, and, perhaps the next Summer Olympic Games. Evans has set a DIII record for the high jump three times this outdoor season, the latest coming at the Louisville's Cardinal Invitational on May 10, when she became the first athlete in DIII history to clear 6-0.
As a bonus, the new record serves as her provisional qualifier for the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships scheduled for June 19-23 at Drake University.
“I think I have to jump six-foot within a year of the [Olympic] trials,” Evans said. “So I’ve got a couple years before I really have to worry about that. But right now, it’s a good feeling. Six-foot was actually my collegiate goal so it was nice.”
She leaves with the 2011, 2012 and 2013 outdoor high-jump titles and the 2011 and 2012 indoor titles, plus, the personification of that familial toughness. Citing her father, Evans says he is the first member of his family not to go to the mines, instead opting for college, where he played college basketball.
“He had vertical,” Evans said, tapping the middle of her left forearm to illustrate. “He could get the rim in like this range whenever he played basketball in college. So I kind of feel like it’s also a little bit genetic that I’m a high jumper.”