Davis goes from Casper to nationals, representing Wyoming
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Jerayah Davis made it look easy in high school. Almost too easy.
Davis shredded the competition during her prep days at Kelly Walsh High School. The Casper native was a four-time Class 4A state champion in the 100 meters, a four-time state champion in the 200 meters and added a pair of long jump state championships for good measure.
Now a senior track star at the University of Wyoming, Davis believes that success — coupled with a pinch of reality — has helped her reach the biggest stage of her collegiate career. She will finish it by competing at the NCAA track and field championships for the first time ever.
“It feels amazing,” Davis told the Casper Star-Tribune. “I definitely have been blessed this season for sure. I think my approach going in and having fun has benefited me instead of putting pressure on myself. Now I’m going to nationals.”
Like every athlete that’s competing this week in Austin, Texas, Davis would love to take home the gold. But not everybody there will have multiple chances at it like Davis, who will compete individually in the women’s 100-meter dash and long jump while also joining teammates Ja’la Henderson, Shayla Howell and Jordan Edmonds in running the women’s 4x100 relay.
Davis became Wyoming’s first female track athlete to ever qualify for three events at the same NCAA championships last week at the West preliminary. She officially punched her ticket to nationals by placing sixth in the long jump with a distance of 20 feet, 5.75 inches.
A day later, Davis ran an automatic qualifying time of 11.35 seconds in the 100. Davis, Henderson, Howell and Edmonds ran a collective 44.69 in the 4x100 relay to earn the last qualifying spot for nationals.
Expectations are high for Davis, who joins Henderson (triple jump) as the only individual national outdoor qualifiers for Wyoming. Davis set school records in the 100 (11.18) and the long jump (21-02.5) earlier this season and also holds the indoor record for the 60-meter dash (7.25).
A top-8 finish in any event would make her a first-team All-American for the first time in her career.
“With Jerayah and Ja’la, I think the expectation has always been to be an All-American,” Wyoming jumps coach Quincy Howe said. “Beyond that, I believe that it’s really on them. A national champion, that’s theirs. Nobody helps anybody be a national champion. I can help them be an All-American, but beyond that, it’s kind of their deal.”
Competing on the national stage for the first time can bring with it plenty of nerves and emotions, but Davis downplayed the thought of any of that affecting her performance. Semifinals for the 4x100 relay and 100 are up first for Davis on Thursday while the long jump finals will be held later that night.
“It’s definitely cool to go and see big names, but I don’t know if I’ll be starstruck because I’m in my zone and having fun,” Davis said. “Not too worried about pressure and stuff.”
Competing at the national level is a dream Davis said she’s always had — one that’s taken a little longer to become reality than she thought it might when she was racking up all those state championships at Kelly Walsh. Her success drew plenty of attention from colleges, and she decided to begin her collegiate career at Southern California.
Injuries kept Davis from ever running or jumping for the collegiate Trojans. Davis added being that far away from home wasn’t a good fit, so she transferred to Wyoming in the summer of 2015 after redshirting at USC.
But the experience was a wake-up call as to the caliber of athlete she’d eventually be competing against and that she wasn’t going to get by on talent alone.
“Back in high school, I remember I went lots of seasons undefeated, and I really thought I was the bomb dot com,” Davis said. “I definitely needed to have my eyes opened and go to USC and realize I wasn’t the bomb dot com. Then now to be back where I am and going to nationals and being able to compete on the national stage is pretty cool.”
A more humble Davis is glad she gets to do it while representing the school and the state she calls home.
“It means the world to me to be from Wyoming and go to nationals for Wyoming,” she said. “I’m pretty excited to go rep Wyoming.”
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com