WT National Champion Swoopes’ last chance to defend throwing titles
CANYON, Texas (KFDA) - West Texas A&M track and field is sending 29 athletes, 12 women and 17 men, to the NCAA DII National Championships. One senior is looking to defend her National titles.
”One of those people that you don’t really replace and just one of those people that’s just once in a lifetime for us,” said Matt Stewart, WT track and field head coach.
When fans look at the wall of West Texas A&M outdoor records, one thrower’s name stands out, Zada Swoopes.
“It feels good that I’m being recognized for the things that I’m excelling in,” said Swoopes. “You know I have lineage behind my name. I have Sheryl Swoopes and I have my brother Tyrone Swoopes, so it’s a lot to uphold, but I’m just happy to that I’m able to uphold it in the way that I want to uphold it.”
The senior enters her last track and field National Championships as the defending title holder in shot put and discus.
“I have the same routine. I walk to the front of the ring and I look back. Do that every time. That’s my favorite,” said Swoopes. “Just to see the excitement of different audience, different coaches what they get from my throws it’s a good feeling. I pray before every one. Without God I would not be here.”
The five-time National Champion’s personal best distance in shot put is 58 feet 1.25 inches, making her the second best shot put thrower in NCAA DII women’s history. Her record is behind Ashland’s Adriane Blewitt set back in 2003. In discus Swoopes has thrown 184 feet 1 inch and in hammer throw she’s hit 187 feet 4 inches.
“Her enthusiasm. Her ability to laugh,” said Randy Denham, WT throwers coach. “Her ability to stay calm in tight situations and just her personality.”
“Denham and her have a special relationship, so it’s going to be tough on him to watch her throw for the last time,” said Stewart. “We can’t wait and just a blessing to be able to watch her compete and be on our team.”
After college Swoopes plans on pursuing a pro career, but wants to keep training where her passion blossomed.
“I’m very blessed to be here where I’m at giving my coaching staff, giving my teammates you know, just being able to meet all the people I’ve met along the journey that have supported me and all the friends I’ve made,” said Swoopes. “I mean I can’t complain. It’s been a very exciting ride to be a Buff.”
The NCAA DII track and field National Championships start Thursday, May 26 at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. The women’s team enters the meet ranked second overall and the men are sitting first.
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