Matt Weir / The Collegian
Three track and field athletes wanted to go against the best the nation had to offer, now the result is a national ranking for each of them.
Val-Pierre Daiâ€™Re, Latrisha Jordan and Sharon Ayala have sprinted, hurdled and thrown their way into the Untied States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Top 20. The USTFCCCA rankings were released this past Wednesday.
Itâ€™s the fourth time this year that the track rankings were released. Only this time, it featured three Bulldog athletes for the first time in the 2009 season.
For Val-Pierre Daiâ€™Re, he earned his ranking after his performance in the Mount Sacramento Relays on April 18.
He finished his 400-meter hurdle with a time of 51.00. The performance tied him with Ray Verner of Iowa for the No.18 ranking.
Daiâ€™Re was recently named WAC Track Athlete of the Week, after his performance in the Mt. Sac relays.
â€œIt feels good because it shows I picked the right school, I picked the right coach and everything else is working,â€ Daiâ€™Re said.
The Merced native will compete in his second consecutive NCAA regional, after a strong showing in the dual meet against Cal-State Bakersfield this past Saturday. Daiâ€™Re was able to amaze the crowd at Waterdam Field in the 400 meter hurdles. Daiâ€™Re competed in the 2008 NCAA regional in the 110-meter hurdles and 400 hurdles.
Even with two NCAA regional appearances, the junior still feels that he can get better.
â€œThereâ€™s plenty of room for improvement,â€ Daiâ€™Re said. â€œEvery race I run I have coaches who tell me â€˜you could do this betterâ€™ or â€˜you could do that betterâ€™. My goal every season is to be a conference champion; thatâ€™s my minimum goal, and then All-American.â€
Freshman Latrisha Jordan is also a hurdler, and her basketball background has helped her earn a tie for the No.13 ranking in that category.
Jordan is one of two freshmen ranked in the Top 20. The Ceres native played her prep basketball at Central Valley High School.
â€œIt helps with endurance, because I played all four quarters, I played every position and I jumped,â€ Jordan said.
Jordan has also noticed the competition level with Division I track and field, as it is more fierce than what she saw in high school.
â€œI like it, itâ€™s very different, because itâ€™s more competition,â€ Jordan said. â€œWhen I was in high school, there wasnâ€™t much competition, because Iâ€™m from Northern California. When you go to Fresno State, thatâ€™s when you see competition. Itâ€™s everywhere here.â€
Jordanâ€™s success is mostly in the 400-meter hurdles. Her time of 58.49 helped tie her with Erica Moore of Indiana State for the No.13 ranking.
â€œItâ€™s good because I love to run the 400 hurdles,â€ Jordan said. â€œTo me, running the open 400 is harder than running the hurdles. The hurdles are each individual hurdle, so itâ€™s something that you get to accomplish.â€
The freshman has already set a few goals for herself by the time she becomes a senior.
â€œMy goal is to run a good time for the 400 in hurdles. Iâ€™m going to say a 55-56,â€ Jordan said. â€œThatâ€™s what they are running at the Olympics and I know I can do that by my senior year. Then in the 400 sprints I want to run a 52 or 53.â€
Hammer thrower Sharon Ayala is currently ranked No. 2 in the USTFCCCA rankings. Check back in Fridayâ€™s edition to read more about the seniorâ€™s journey to the NCAA Tourney.