LINCOLN — If there’s a moment when Nebraska thrower Annie Jackson needs a motivational boost during training this spring, all she has to do is pull up the results from her last two big meets.
Jackson missed a third-place medal in the shot put at the Big Ten indoor championships by just more than two inches. Her sophomore season ended at NCAA regionals when she came about two inches away from a berth to the national outdoor event.
The details can make the difference. She’s learned that the hard way — though she’s now putting extra effort into fine-tuning her craft as she prepares for the start of the outdoor season Friday.
“I keep knocking on the door,” said Jackson, who’s from Tekamah, Neb., which is about an hour north of Omaha. “Hopefully that’s set me up for what is a really good season.”
She’ll get her first chance to see if the work is paying off this weekend, when she and the rest of the Nebraska throwers (both men and women) will head to Tempe, Ariz., for the Arizona State Invitational. The hurdlers on the men’s team will also compete.
Nebraska’s men, who ended indoors in somewhat of a disappointing fashion, were ranked No. 17 in the preseason coaches’ poll for the outdoor season. The women, meanwhile, were 19th. Both full squads are expected to compete at the Arkansas Spring Invitational next weekend.
Jackson finished fifth at that Arkansas meet last season, and peaked at regionals when she launched a throw of 52 feet, 2 inches in the shot put. She’s already improved on that mark this year, recording a 53-foot, 7-inch throw in February.
Jackson plans to compete in shot put and discus in Arizona on Saturday, hoping to exceed her own rising expectations.
She was seeded in the 30s for that regional meet last year and finished 14th. She turned a five seed into a fourth-place finish at the Big Ten indoor championships in February.
Now she’s hoping to make sure she stays on that same track, improving every time out.
“This is probably the most confident with my technique that I’ve ever been,” she said, “but there’s still those little areas that you can always tweak and that’s just going to add that much more distance.”
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