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North Texas sophomore journeys from last place to North Texas record holder

North Texas sophomore journeys from last place to North Texas record holder

North Texas sophomore journeys from last place to North Texas record holder
March 29
10:30 2019

North Texas sophomore Jalesia Shaffer made strides on the track and field team in her second season with the Mean Green, setting the same record twice.

“In high school, I didn’t have much competition,” Shaffer said. “Most of the time in meets, it was an easy win for shot put and in discus, I would either be first or second.”

During Shaffer’s senior year at Palo Duro High School, she won double gold for regionals and went to state for the first time. Although Shaffer said she didn’t expect those results, she saw it as an opportunity to set her college career.

Transitioning from high school to college athletics, Shaffer said she came to terms with altering her throwing technique to perfect it. During the Texas Christian Invitational, Shaffer placed thirteenth with a distance of 12.83 meters in the shot put and finished in last place out of 17 in the discus with a final measure of 33.04 meters.

“[That meet] was rough, especially with changing my technique quite a bit,” Shaffer said. “I wasn’t having good throws. I was improving but it wasn’t what I was hoping for until we got closer to conference.”

Shaffer ended her freshman season with North Texas at the Conference USA outdoor championships at Rice. She finished eighth in discus with 48.34 meters and seventh place in shot put with 14.16 meters.

Since then, Shaffer has increased her standings as a sophomore. On Feb. 2, Shaffer broke the school record for indoor shot put and earned fourth place with a throw of 14.65 meters at the J.D. Martin Invitational. The original record, which was set in 2005, was held by Stacy Orakpo with a distance of 14.50 meters.

“It was a big confidence booster, I knew I could do it but when it came to meets, I was trying to get it to happen in meets because it had been happening in practice,” Shaffer said. “As soon it happened, I was like, ‘okay, I can relax a little bit.’”

In preparation for the Mean Green’s first home meet of the 2019 season, sophomore Jaleisa Shaffer throws a shot put during practice at UNT’s new practice facility. Image by: Kara Dry.

Within the span of 15 days, Shaffer broke her own indoor shot put record on Feb. 17 at the C-USA Championships, improving to 14.82 meters. When asked about her recent success, throwers coach Brandon Kelso talked about Shaffer’s work ethic as one of her strong suits.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Kelso said. “She’s not doing anything different recently, but since she got here on day one, she’s been putting in the work. She’s been working hard and trying to make the technical changes. She always has a good attitude, she’s definitely earned this success.”

During Shaffer’s freshman season she was able to throw far in practice but wasn’t able to replicate it when it came to field meets, according to Kelso. He encouraged her by reminding her that she could throw the distance and to stay confident that the success she was having in practice would show up in competitions.

“She took it upon herself to figure out what would work for her and by the end of the season she started throwing further in meets than in practice,” Kelso said. “She did well not giving up when what she was doing in practice wasn’t translating to the competition.”

Throughout the season, Shaffer has placed in multiple of her field meets with a third-place finish in the shot put at the Kansas State Wildcat Invitational (13.39 meters) and another bronze in the shot put at the 2019 Texas Tech Classic (13.86 meters).

In her most recent track and field meet, Shaffer captured first place after scoring 14.06 meters in shot put in the 2019 Baylor Invitational. She also captured second in the discus throw with her final result being 44.11 meters. She trailed her teammate sophomore thrower Haley Walker who had the first-place winning score of 47.97 meters. Walker was behind Shaffer in the final shot put results after garnering a second place winning score of 13.52 meters.

“She’s a hard worker and comes out every day and she’s always positive and has a great attitude,” Walker said. “She motivates every single one of us.”

This will be Walker and Shaffer’s second season together on the track and field team as they joined in the same year. When asked about Shaffer’s growth, Walker acknowledged Shaffer’s difficult freshman season. She spoke highly of Shaffer’s perseverance and continued confidence in herself as well as trusting their coach has for them.

“She takes care of her body, she makes sure to always get treatment, she’s the first person there and the last one there,” Walker said. “She really takes care of herself and works hard in anything she does.”  

When asked about her own goals and aspirations for the remainder of the track and field season, Shaffer mentioned breaking more records.

“I definitely want the outdoor shot put record,” Shaffer said. “I know [Walker] has it right now and I’ve got to steal it from her.”

Featured Image: Shot put held to her neck, sophomore Jaleisa Shaffer poses at the new UNT track and field facility. Shaffer is currently preparing for the Mean Green’s first and only meet to be held at the new stadium for this season. Image by: Kara Dry.

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Matt Suarez

Matt Suarez

Sports Editor

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