The fact that Arlington Bowie triple jumper Nicole Iloanya will enter this weekends UIL Class 5A state track meet as the top seed, clearing 40 feet, 7 1/2 inches, is somewhat old news to the senior.It was a feat she accomplished last year, jumping a regional-best 40-2 1/2, just eight months after surgery to repair a torn ACL. She placed fourth at state last year.I am very happy that I am coming in with the highest seed, but I am not comfortable, Iloanya said. Im not satisfied or comfortable because last year I came in with the highest seed and I ended up getting fourth, so this year Im finishing my business.Iloanya has been a triple jumper since she was in middle school, but track always was second priority, surpassed by basketball.It wasnt until the ACL injury that Iloanya suffered during a summer-league basketball game, which forced her to sit out her school basketball season while she recovered, that she put more of an emphasis on her track career.Through that time off, she decided to continue her athletic career at the next level, putting aside basketball to prepare to run track in college at San Jose State. That being said, basketball will always be a part of her and how she goes about triple jumping.I feel like it adds more to my movement and what I need to be able to do, Iloanya said. Sometimes in practice my coach gives me an example in basketball so it can help me on the runway for triple jump.As she enters the 2014 state meet, she acknowledges that others warned her to go slow last year, and that she might have pushed the left knee a little early.To be honest, I just had faith in God and I just jumped, she said of her knee last year. I didnt want to show any sign of weakness or anything because I didnt want anyone to pull me out or tell me that I should wait. I felt like I could do it, so I went out and I just jumped.She also gained much-needed experience to dim the bright lights of a state meet that can create nerves. I think the experience from last year kind of opened her eyes where she was trying to go, Bowie coach Doris Grooms said. It gives her an idea of what she needs to do to get there. As a result of that, she came back this year and worked hard and shes going back there as the top seed.There are no distractions for an athlete who hopes to close out her high school career and enter her collegiate track career with the momentum of a gold medal.Im going focused, she said. I already have the experience because Ive already been there. I know what it takes. Im ready.
UIL State track and field meet
Mike A. Myers Stadium
University of Texas, Austin
Tickets: $5-$25 (gates open 7:15 a.m. each day)
• 3,200-meter run (4A, 3A, 2A, 1A-Division 2), 8 a.m.
• Full running and field events, all day
• Running events (4A, 2A),
• 3200-meter run (5A, 1A-Division 1), 8 a.m.
• Full running and field, all day
• Running events (3A, 1A-D2), noon
• Running events (5A, 1A-D1, Wheelchair), 6 p.m.