Senior searches for key to success, finds balance

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Ryan Edwards

Senior high jumper Victoria Lucas came up short of nationals during indoor track season, but will use that as motivation in the outdoor season.

Kristin Otto

Victoria Lucas was in disheartened disbelief. After four years of unwavering dedication, the final indoor season of her collegiate career had been stopped unexpectedly short.

“Watching the live results, I was just sitting there really upset and I thought, ‘This isn’t worth it — to not be happy.’”

Searching for the eye, some semblance of calm and order, in the storm of her emotions, Lucas looked on as former high school rival Shanay Briscoe competed as the sole Longhorn in the high jump at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

“I was so frustrated not going to nationals, where I should have been an All-American,” Lucas reflected, the slightest tone of resentment detectable in her voice.

In a final attempt to attain NCAA qualifying marks, the two high jumpers went head-to-head at a Last Chance meet in Arkansas. Topping six feet for the first time in the season, Briscoe emerged with a victory and a spot in the Indoor Championships, where she ultimately claimed fourth overall.

Lucas never made it to Nampa and was forced to walk away from her last indoor season at Texas empty-handed.

“When you work, you try to work for perfection and eliminate all the flaws that will cause you not to get the kind of performance you want. You want to be in the kind of condition … and in the kind of jumping shape that you need to be in [to succeed] at the peak moments,” explained assistant coach Rose Brimmer.

For high jumpers like Lucas, this competition year is a “three-peak season” — that is, their goals are to peak during indoors, then in outdoors and finally come back and peak at the Olympic Trials.

Lucas admitted that her indoor peak fell short. Instead of a competitor on the field, the senior was a spectator on the sidelines. With her last outdoor season as a Longhorn up next, she knew something had to change.

“Coming into my senior year, I wanted to be so determined and so focused,” she said. “I just wanted to focus on school and track — not have any distractions. And I think it really started to backfire on me because it was all I was thinking about and all I wanted to do. I just wanted to be so serious … I needed to have some kind of balance.”

In the midst of her doubts, Lucas realized that the flaw that had obstructed her from reaching her peak performance was not so much physical as it was mental.

So, she embarked on a quest of finding equilibrium in the social, academic and athletic aspects of her life. Last weekend, it finally paid off.

In the days leading up to the Texas Invitational, Lucas had been having “awful practices;” struggling with a minor injury, the senior was unsure if she was going to compete after being held to a 1.81-meter mark for two consecutive meets. However, Lucas wasn’t flustered and was determined to improve.

“I feel like I’ve been stuck at [1.81-meters] this whole year. It was so frustrating because I didn’t have an answer, and I wanted an answer.”

In hindsight, the balance that she had been striving for presented the answer.

By refraining from putting too much pressure on herself, Lucas was able to relax, which in turn set her up for a season-high 1.83-meter jump, a feat that she believes will also set her up to reach her goal peak in the outdoor season.

“I think that now that I’ve gone past the barrier of 6-feet … it should only be easier for me to go up from there.”

After clearing 1.85-meters as a junior in high school, Lucas competed in the 2008 Olympic Trials. Before she closes out her athletic career at UT, she is set on surpassing her 2007 personal record and, furthermore, on making the 2012 Olympic team.

“Staying really disciplined … and being extremely confident that I can hit the heights that I need to go to [London]; if I can maintain [this mind-set] throughout July, then I think I should be alright,” She said.

The future of Lucas’ high jump career is largely contingent on how she performs this summer. Nevertheless, she must maintain her newfound balance if she wants to have a shot at achieving a fulfilling third and final peak as a Longhorn.

Printed on Friday, April 20, 2012 as: Lucas attempts to peak at perfect time