COLUMBIA — Missouri’s Jill Rushin didn’t feel great on Saturday morning.
In a phone call, she told her parents not to expect too much of her at the day's track and field meet because she had exerted so much energy in the weight room during the week.
Rushin's early analysis was dead wrong.
The Missouri junior tossed 17.45 meters in the shot put, setting a mark that placed her as the nation’s top athlete in the event. (Later in the day, Jessica Ramsey of Western Kentucky eclipsed that mark by 0.04 meters in a home meet in Bowling Green, Ky.)
Rushin's toss would have been good enough for third place in last year’s NCAA Championships, and it was her third personal record of the day.
Her second toss was 17.03 meters, the third farthest any woman had thrown outdoors so far this season, and her fourth throw (17.11 meters) was good enough for second in the nation.
Then came the throw that set her on top. It didn’t meet her season goal of 18 meters, but it still made for a great day for Rushin.
“This still means a lot,” Rushin said. “I’ve been working toward this for a really long time.”
Rushin didn’t like her release on the throw, and she said her body didn’t feel quite right (she threw up later in the day). She is sure that she will top the mark soon.
“At the next meet I compete at I hope,” Rushin said.
Rushin joked that becoming No. 1 wasn’t even the best part of her day.
“What I’m most excited about is I got my homework assignment done this morning,” Rushin said.
The biology and religious studies major’s homework was due at midnight, and she said completing it relieved a lot of stress.
After her remarkable shot put performance, Rushin ate lunch from the concession stand and went to compete in the discus throw.
Halfway through the competition, lunch came back up.
When she took her next throw, she set another personal record.
Disregarding other results from across the nation this weekend, Rushin's toss of 52.49 meters could have moved her from 29th to 21st on the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Qualifying list.
Ilori: 'Best day of my career'
Missouri’s Jonathon Ilori would have moved up to No. 3 in the nation if his farthest triple jump of the day had not been nullified for wind assistance.
The junior's 4.2 meter/second wind helped Ilori to a 16.10-meter jump. The jump still counted for the competition but will be dismissed for purposes of any national ranking or qualification.
“At the end of the day, my body’s going that far,” Ilori said. “Sixteen (meters) means you’re up there, elite. Everyone (in Ilori’s competition) has reason to be worried.”
The nullification didn’t seem to faze Ilori at all.
“I’m going to call it the best day of my career,” Ilori said. “I’ve been thinking about 16 (meters) for two years now. I just wanted to hear ‘One-Six.’”
When he heard that number, Ilori ran down the track, ecstatic. He had to collect himself before he would learn what numbers came after the decimal or how much wind was at his back.
Perhaps the most outstanding part of Ilori’s jump was that he did it from a short approach. Ilori was using the home meet as a “glorified practice,” and he took eight strides off of his usual approach to focus on technique.
Even the incredibly confident Ilori didn’t believe he would hit 16 meters with a 10-stride approach.
Perhaps, though, the shorter approach, and the extra control it provides, is exactly what allowed Ilori the ability to jump so far.
“What I’ve been struggling with is control,” Ilori said. “I’m as strong as all these top guys in the nation, but I’m not as controlled as them.”
After his jumps, Ilori joked with jumps coach Carjay Lyles that he should always use 10 strides from now on.
Ilori’s best legal jump of the day, 15.70, will still move him up to ninth in the nation, barring other top Saturday jumps across the nation.
Supervising editor is Mark Selig.