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Feb. 22, 2013
By Kyle Lucas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Almost a year ago junior Marlene Ricketts had the jump of her career. Ricketts hit a jump of 41-2.25 in the triple jump at the NCAA First Round. It was a new personal record, at the time. Her jump was good enough for a 15th place finish, pretty good for someone who entered the day ranked 36th in the event.
However, it was not good enough.
Out of the 48 athletes that qualified for NCAA First Round only, 12 make it to the NCAA final round. Ricketts had just missed the cut by three spots.
While psyched to set a new personal record, she headed into the offseason unsatisfied. Ricketts retooled her technique with jumps coach, Fritz Spence, through weekly meetings, film sessions and of course practice.
"I think the main thing about my jumps was my approach to the board," said Ricketts. "I would foul all the time because I would change my run. Once I figured that out I barely fouled this season. I think that was huge for me."
Ricketts competes in the 400 meters as part of her training. She runs in the event with the intention of improving and eventually maintain her conditioning levels. Typically she only runs the 400 meters in the first few meets of the season.
However, this season she's seen her workload in the event expand to the relays. So far this season Ricketts have competed in the 4x400-meter relay and has ran the 400-meter leg of the distance medley relay.
"She's an athlete. There is just no question she is probably one of the most talented athletes we have on the team," said head coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "So building her into some of these relays has been very important in her development to help her understand that she can not only be hugely valuable to us in the jumps, as she's shown herself to be, but also in the relays."
While Ricketts is seeing success in the 400-meters and relay events she maintains that she is strictly a jumper.
"The triple jump is my favorite event," said Ricketts. "If I have to do the 400, I wouldn't have a problem doing it. It's not that bad once you're done with it."
Ricketts' work in the offseason and in the relays has been paying off in her jumps. Twice this season she has set new personal records in the triple jump. It's been a momentum boost for Ricketts heading into the Big Ten Championships this weekend at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio.
"It's given me momentum, but I still think I can do better then what I have done this season," said Ricketts. "I just hope that I can do even better to contribute to the team at Big Tens by scoring. Whatever I jump, as long as I'm top two, I'll be happy."
This weekend she'll have chance at getting closer to her goals of the NCAA finals. Currently, Ricketts ranks 15th in the NCAA women's triple jump. Her distance of 42-2.25 is well within striking distance of the top five with nine girls ahead by only a few inches.