By Bryce Dole

Georgia senior and Olympian Keturah Orji came to Eugene for the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships with six consecutive NCAA triple jump titles, indoor and outdoor, under her belt. After her victory in Thursday’s NCAA long jump final, Orji said she was excited and confident in her abilities to put 10 more team points on the board in her final triple jump competition as a Bulldog.

Once again, Orji delivered, earning her seventh collegiate triple jump title with a wind-aided leap of 46 feet, ¾ inches, well ahead of runner-up Yanis David of Florida, who posted a mark of 45-9 1/4.

“It feels really good. I think it just shows work ethic and consistency,” said Orji. “I’m just excited for my future.”

However, the competition did not go exactly to plan. Orji fouled on her first attempt, and then directly before her third, the rain and hail began to downpour. Her coach advised her to save energy for later rounds, and she passed because her second jump qualified her for the final. She took just one more jump, which was a quarter-inch shorter than her winning jump.

“I really wish I wouldn’t have fouled my first jump because then I would have had a lot more confidence,” said Orji. “If my body isn’t warm, then I can’t jump. I know my coach was telling me to pass, but sometimes when I pass so many times, the jumps aren’t that good.”

Multiple other competitors took passes on their attempts as well.

“When it was hailing, everyone in the top four passed their jumps,” said Orji. “The conditions were too dangerous, and it was too cold to jump.”

Orji is now the only woman in NCAA history to have eight individual field event titles. She also has five of the top 10 all-time triple jump marks for American women outdoors and five of the top 10 indoor marks, as well. She attributes her accomplishments to her family, friends and coaches.

“I didn’t think I could accomplish all that coming into college. I knew how competitive it was,” said Orji. “I have so much support, so it’s been a big blessing to accomplish what I have here at Georgia. I’m definitely going to miss it.”

Orji’s personal best of 48-3 ¼ was an American record earned at the Rio Olympics in 2016. This record has since been broken by Oiselle athlete Tori Franklin, who jumped 48-8 ¼ at last month’s Meeting de Guadeloupe.

After an injury-ridden season that caused her to watch the 2017 world championships from the sideline, Orji is looking forward to regaining the fitness that has taken her over 48 feet in the past.

“I definitely want to break the American record again because I lost it,” said Orji. “I also want to make the world championship team and hopefully medal at either the world championships or the Olympics.”