DeAnna Price's new NCAA record highlights NCAA track and field championships
EUGENE, Ore. -- During her victory lap around Hayward Field, Southern Illinois' DeAnna Price hugged nearly everyone she saw.
How many did she know?
"Not many," Price said with a laugh.
She defended her national title in the hammer throw. She broke her own NCAA meet record (now at 234 feet, 8 inches). She delivered more 230-plus-foot throws than any collegian ever in a single season. And she knew she'd be back at Hayward for the Olympic trials in less than a month.
Price, a self-defined "huge hugger," felt pretty great. But as she was all smiles on Thursday evening, she knew it hadn't always been that easy to embrace even herself during her college career.
"I remember my freshman and sophomore year, I started gaining weight, getting bigger," Price said. "I remember looking in the mirror like, 'I feel uncomfortable with my body. I don't feel pretty.'"
During her freshman season, she dropped 30 pounds. She also lost seven meters in her hammer throw markings. Price said that she really didn't feel comfortable in her own skin until her junior season.
"I'm really just hoping to inspire younger generations to let them to know it's OK to be strong, it's OK to be bigger," Price said. "I can front squat a lot of weight.
"A lot of people just don't expect women to shine or be bold. I want them to know that it's OK to throw far. It's OK to be strong."
Price has spread her message, speaking with student groups about body image and acceptance. She wants to remind them that bodies come in every size and shape and that she is at her best the way she is -- and her best is also currently the best in all of the NCAA.
"You have to be able to be strong," Price said. "You have to be able to stand there and be like, 'I am a solid, beautiful woman.'"
Razorbacks jump to the front
As 10,000-meter runner Dominique Scott cruised through the final 100 meters of the 10K, she looked up into the grandstands, spotted her husband and blew a kiss. She had broken away from the rest of the runners at the 800-meter mark after going out at a slower pace with the rest of the pack. (She later joked that the final two laps are so fun, but "it's just those 23 laps before that are kind of annoying.")
Scott was all grins as she passed the west grandstand while fans cheered for her after running a very smart race.
"I just felt really good," Scott said.
And she should have.
She had a 100-meter lead on her closest competitor and was about to avenge her runner-up finish in this event last season. Fellow Razorback Alexis Weeks had just won the pole vault. And another Razorback in long jumper Taliyah Brooks was busy at the long jump pit, staying near the top of the standings there.
In total, that 20-minute stretch gave the Razorbacks a 20-point boost in the standings, propelling them to the top of the team leaderboard after Day 1 of the NCAA track and field championships.
Kentucky freshman coming up big
Kentucky coach Edrick Floreal knew that freshman Jasmine Camacho-Quinn could have a strong outdoor season.
It would be important for her individually, as she would be competing for Puerto Rico at the Rio Olympics. But it was also important for the team, which was looking for Camacho-Quinn to score points in events previously dominated by Kendra Harrison (100 hurdles) and Dezerea Bryant (200 meters) as the Wildcats looked toward a national title. (Kentucky finished as the runner-up here in 2015.)
"Sometimes the shoes are larger than the athlete's feet," Floreal said. "I think she needs to step into those shoes.
"She's getting better, but she has so much more than that."
Now, Camacho-Quinn will have to live up to those standards three different times on Saturday during the finals -- the 100-meter hurdles (in which she ran the fastest time in the semifinals), the 200-meter dash (she got into the eighth spot on time) and the 4x100 meter relay.
Though Camacho-Quinn felt a bit exhausted at the thought of competing in three events during the finals, Floreal isn't worried about it. After the regional meet, Floreal began working his athletes out on a schedule that reflected the NCAA meet (hard day, light day, hard day), so he feels as though this week will seem about as normal for his star freshman as possible.
Floreal said there's "a lot left on the table" for Camacho-Quinn. And he's hoping that on Saturday, she (and the rest of the Wildcats) eat well.