Although their college lacks an adequate long jump pit, Teresa Allen and Brenda Bailey of Howard University are among the contenders for an NCAA outdoor title this week at the University of Texas in Austin.
Howard is one of the few Division I schools that does not have a modern track. The Bison facility is gravel and abused by time. Two weeks ago, trucks rode over the track as workmen were putting up a stage for graduation. The long jump pit consists of a hole in the ground and a dirt runway.
"We don't have the necessary facilities to be jumping like we are jumping," said Allen, a sophomore from Charlotte, N.C.
Bailey, a junior from Friendswood, Tex., says she doesn't use the lack of a good pit "as an excuse," if she doesn't jump well. "There's nothing I can do about it," she said. "I just go about my business."
The two Howard students are among the nation's best collegiate long jumpers. Bailey won the long jump at the Penn Relays (20-7 3/4) and was ranked 15th (20-4) in the country during the early outdoor season. She holds school records in the long jump (21-2 1/4) and the triple jump (42-5). She finished 14th in the Olympic trials.
Allen earned all-America honors by coming in fifth during the NCAA indoor championships (20-1 1/2) at Syracuse University in March. She also participated in the indoor and outdoor nationals and U.S. Olympic trials during her freshmen year.
The outdoor nationals will afford stiff competiton, such as Olympian Carol Lewis -- sister of Carl -- who has the top five jumps for the outdoor season, including 22-3. Donna Thomas of Texas Christian is the second-leading jumper (21-5 1/4) and Angie Thacker of Nebraska is third (21-4 1/4).
"My main goal is to make all-America (the top six finalists)," said Bailey. "I am kind of timid about jumping at the nationals. It really bugs me that I haven't made all-America. It seems like I have done everything except making all-America. I am looking for it and I am jumping well now. I will be ready for the nationals."
She hopes to better 21 feet at the nationals.
At the recent Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championships, besides winning the long jump (20-5), Bailey finished fourth in the triple jump, fifth in the high jump and sixth in both the 100 and 200 meters. Her times in the 100 (12.10) and 200 (24.7) were respectable. She converted from the triple jump to the long jump to earn a college scholarship.
"I used to like the triple jump better," she said. "I did better in high school than college." Despite her all-around efforts at Howard, she would rather just enter the long jump.
After the NCAA championships, she hopes to compete in the Track Athletic Congress/Mobil championships or the National Sports Festival, a meet she attended as a freshmen.
"I have a very good chance to make the team (National Sports Festival)," she said.
Allen had the kind of freshmen year that any track athlete would love to have. She had never jumped indoors before coming to Howard, but she qualified for the nationals at a "last chance" meet at George Mason.
"I was real excited about making the indoor nationals," she said. She qualified for the outdoor championships in her first meet of the spring, the Lincoln University Relays.
She hopes to jump 21 feet this week and earn all-America honors like she did indoors. After the nationals, she would like to jump 21 feet at either the TAC/Mobil or the National Sports Festival.
At the MEAC championships, Allen, who also competes in the 100, 200 and the relays, triple jumped for the first time and came in third (38-4).
"I never triple jumped in high school," she said. "I hope to continue to do the triple jump It gets me warmed up for the long jump."