GREENSBORO, N.C. – Redshirt junior Jaleesa Williams summed it up perfectly, "This feels so surreal. I can't stop smiling."
Williams had every reason to smile on Thursday as she became the first thrower in VCU track & field history to earn a spot in the NCAA Championships with her top-12 showing in the discus at the NCAA East Preliminary Round.
Entering seeded 41st in the event, Williams broke her own school record with her first toss, reaching 50.34m (165' 2"). She was the only thrower in her heat to break 50 meters in the first round.
It was her second throw of the day that turned heads as the Virginia Beach, Va. native unleashed the fury reaching 52.23m (171' 4"). She demolished her old school record, which she set last year at 49.01m (160' 9").
"We knew Jalessa could have a day like today. She had many throws at this distance in meets, but they were always outside the sector. We made a crucial technical change in practice following the conference meet and reinforced her strengths that got her to this point," Throws Coach Ethan Tussing said. "That laid the foundation for Jaleesa to have another monumental record-breaking performance today."
Williams' mark would be the third best of the first round as the top 16 throwers advanced to the final round. After three more throwers from the top 16, Williams' mark stood as the sixth-best of the day and earned a trip to NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. on June 5-8.
She becomes the first female to reach the NCAA Championships since Tanika Brown in 2005 (high jump).