July 5, 2005
Junior LaToya Legree (Lithonia, Ga./Stephenson) earned a spot in the senior women’s triple jump event at the 2005 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Carson, California from June 23-26, 2005. The NCAA qualifier and All-ACC honoree made the most of her experience, chronicling her four-day trip for Seminoles.com.
Thursday, June 23
The flight from Tallahassee to Atlanta was okay. It was short, sweet and to the point, only 39 minutes flight time. But the trip from Atlanta to Los Angeles was a hard three hours and 45 minutes. It was torture but I had to remind myself that it’s a lot better than driving. So once I put that in perspective, the flight didn’t seem so bad.
As soon as I landed and got checked into the hotel, we left for the track. Garrett Johnson was competing in the discus and Heather was finishing her first day of competition in the heptathlon so we went to the track to watch.
The hotel is pretty nice. I’m staying at the Manhattan Beach Marriott, right off the beach coastal area so it’s okay. It has beautiful scenery. The track was just as beautiful too. I was totally breathless. The Home Depot Center is a phenomenal facility and I was just so happy to be able to train and compete at an Olympic level site.
I watched some of the competition including Garrett’s performance in the discus. He did a very good job. Now I am just waiting patiently for Sunday for the competition.
Friday, June 24
I went to the track around 12:30 and did a little warm-up. The facility had an indoor area where I could jog and stretch. They put some turf material on the floor of the infield of the velodrom and I was able to work on my approaches and prepare to run out. But as I warmed up, I looked to my right and I noticed that Marion Jones was right there. She’s preparing for her race later on in the day. Inside, I wanted to run up to her and get her autograph but I played it cool and kept jogging.
After I completed my warm-up and was headed out to the track to do some more spectating, and to my amazement, I saw track and field greats Maurice Green and Terrance Trammell. Here I am, an amateur who is just happy to be here and I’m less than ten yards away from world-class Olympians and they are getting prepared just as I am.
Well, I finished gawking at the athletes and went into the stadium to watch the rest of the events at the track. Here at this meet, the level of competition has risen quite a few notches higher than what I am used to. It is true when they say the elite of the elite are present at the trials. Today, I was shocked at some of the performances, not just on the senior level but with the juniors as well. Kids in high school are performing at great levels to be so young.
I pretty much ended the day with a hot shower and dinner. I am still on east coast time so my day ended at about 9:30, 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 25
Today I got up earlier than I would like but went to watch the junior women’s triple jump. Again I was shocked at these young ladies’ performances. The winner of the juniors went 42 feet low, which is decent on that level. But the girl who won is capable of so much more and is only going to get better.
Being a spectator for the last two days has been great. I witnessed a great women’s 400m dash. The winner ran 49.28 in the finals and second and third went under 50 seconds as well. There are plenty of men who can’t run 49.28. It was amazing to watch.
Well, I compete tomorrow and surprisingly I’m not that nervous. I just prayed on my performances and tomorrow will go out and have fun.
Sunday, June 26
This morning I ate breakfast at McDonald’s again. The people messed up my order so it was a sign today wasn’t going to go my way. I got to the track and had a decent warm-up in the velodrome. I was feeling good. My body felt like I was ready to compete despite my right ankle. I was the first jumper in the first flight which added more pressure. I didn’t make the finals or the USA Team but hopefully I will be back here next year, if God allows and I’m healthy enough to earn a spot on the team.
The flight back to Tallahassee left at 9:55 p.m. We landed at the regional airport (via a layover in Atlanta) at 8:15 a.m. on Monday morning. I was off to class at 9:30 a.m., anxious to return to my hectic but normal schedule.