It wasn’t until the middle of the track and field season that recent Mansfield Summit graduate Imunique Billingsley found the formula which would carry her to the state meet. In the process, it would also draw attention from, and eventually a commitment to, the UT Arlington program.
Billingsley ended up finishing seventh at the state Class 5A long jump competition, but she now has her sights set on new goals at the collegiate level.
It was toward the middle of the season that Billingsley said she started to increase her distance in the long jump by focusing on speed and strength.
Some days she would spend devoted to speed work, and other days were devoted to weight training for her legs. At 5-6, Billingsley said it was a matter of speed, strength and technique.
It was my last chance to focus on track, and I wasn’t even thinking about going to college (for track).
- Imunique Billingsley on her senior-year track season
“I started seeing increases by feet and it got me excited,” she said, which then drove her to bear down even more in her training.
Billingsley started off the season jumping 17-5 and eventually hit her personal best of 19-3.
What may have also contributed to her leg strength was having played volleyball for the Lady Jaguars.
Having also competed in the triple jump, 4x200 meter relay and open 200m, Billingsley said in addition to the long jump as a primary event at the next level, she may find her way to take on something seven times more challenging.
“I might do the heptathlon,” she said, noting it would require taking on the 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m, javelin and 800m, in addition to the long jump.
“I’ve never done it before, but I can easily start working on it,” Billingsley said.
Outside of the physical side of training, Billingsley said the mental side came into play, as well.
“In track, I knew I had to work hard and knew I had to carry it on from volleyball. I dedicated myself to track like I did in volleyball. It was my last chance to focus on track, and I wasn’t even thinking about going to college (for track),” she said. “I hadn’t done well as the first of the year athletically.”
Billingsley said she made her mind up that she’d put in the necessary work and dedicate herself more than she had done in any other of her years at Summit.
“I worked out on weekends and would jump on the pit more than ever before. I just felt more in love with it and worked harder to get my technique down,” she said.
Billingsley will work out on her own this summer to get in shape and be ready when she reports to UTA on Aug. 24.
She should have a seamless transition at UTA, as the key draw to the Mavericks program is that the coaching is similar to that of Summit coach Shannon Utley.
“I liked Coach (Brandon) Berger a lot,” Billingsley said. “He talked about technique similar to Coach Utley and it seemed more natural to me, not forceful. It felt like it would be a place I could grow.”