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Interval Session #56 - Jacinda Evans
By Steve Underwood, May 15, 2008

Last spring, Jacinda Evans was a Southern Durham NC junior, running some solid sprint times and jumping better, but in the bigger picture was overshadowed by the bright stars of Gabby Mayo and other seniors in her home state.

What a difference a year makes. The years of training with Durham Striders coach Frank Davis – which began as a grade-school student – really began to pay off for Evans indoors and came to full fruition last weekend when she produced an MVP, 4-gold medal performance at her State 4A meet, winning the 100, 200, long jump and triple jump, all with national-class marks.

Of course, Evans won the NIN long jump title in Maryland in March, but many of the best jumpers were in New York at NSIC. But now she has not only gotten over 20 feet in the LJ, but become a national-class sprinter as well. In the afterglow of four state titles, the North Carolina signee talked with DyeStat News Editor SteveU.

Jacinda Evans winning the LJ at NIN.
Photo Vic Sailer, photorun.net

1. Congratulations on winning 4 state titles last weekend.  What has it been like at school the last few days, with the reaction from your friends and teammates?

It’s about the same … except a whole bunch of people have seen me in the newspaper, which had a picture of me long-jumping, and they’ve been saying, “What in the world?”  It was kind of strange.  They’ve been asking me, “Do you have any other newspapers?”  And I’m, like, “No!”

2. Last year, you placed high in several events at state, but there were lot of good kids ahead of you, like Gabby Mayo and Gabriella Glenn, that graduated.  But you still had some tough competition, like Nyosha Bryant.  So what were your goals for state coming into this year?

I knew I wanted to place in the top three in the 100 and 200, but I felt like I could win the long jump and the triple jump.  But after I ran the 100 last Saturday, and won that, I was like, well, I guess I have to win the 200 now!  I was VERY surprised to win the 100.  I kind of scared myself.  I just really had a burst of energy in that race.

3. Were there meets you had this year that really increased your confidence, like when you first broke 20 feet in the long jump?

Yes, and that was one of them, when I did 20 feet in the long jump.  And at regionals, when I ran 11.96 100 in the prelims and 24.49 in the 200 prelims, that was more shocking than anything.  Coach Davis talked to me after the finish and told me I ran 24.49, and I was, like, “What!?!?”

4. I know you won Nike Indoor in the long jump, but now that you’ve also got your sprint times down, are you starting to think about different events for outdoor nationals, and what your goals might be there?

Yes, Coach Davis hasn’t told me what I’ll be doing at nationals, but I really want to do the 100 (in addition to the long jump and triple jump).  That’s what I’m thinking about the most.

5. Can you talk a little bit about when you first started out with the Durham Striders?  I read an article where you said it was pretty tough for you when you first started out as a grade-school student.

(laughs) When I started I was 10 years old and I cried every day.  Every day I came home and told my mom, “I don’t want to do the Striders any more!” And she would say, “Stick it out, it’ll get better.”  And I’d say, “No, it’s not getting better!  It’s getting worse!” (laughs).  One of my coaches was convinced I was a 400 runner and I knew I wasn’t.  I got passed by two girls in a 400 during a meet and started crying before I even finished.  I said, “That’s my last track meet.”  But of course, it wasn’t.  Next year I came back.

Then I didn’t run with the Striders in middle school, but I ran for my middle school team and started to get better.  Then when I came back to Striders in high school, it was still hard, but not like it used to be.

Jacinda Evans (center) is in good company, with Brittany Porter and Ryann Krais, after winning the NIN long jump.  Photo Donna Dye
6. What has Coach Davis meant to you in your development as an athlete?

What can I say about Coach Davis?  (laughs)  He has just always been there for me – I mean ALWAYS been there.  I don’t know what else to say … I’m just really, really grateful to have him there.  Really, really grateful.  I’m even grateful for running those 300s every other day.  He just knows how to whip me into shape.

7. I read you used to be a basketball player, too ... how did it wind up that you gravitated toward track?

I stopped playing basketball in 8th grade.  I didn’t think I was good enough to make the team in high school.  Also, indoor track was during the same season, and I thought I was better in track.

8. What does it mean to you to be able to continue your track career on scholarship and go to school at University of North Carolina, a great school right in your backyard?

It’s like a dream come true, as a matter of fact.  I’ve wanted to go to UNC since I was eight years old.  In fact, I started to like basketball because of the UNC basketball program back then.  And then I just recently found out they had a really good track team, too.  So I thought, well, my dream can be to run UNC track, too!

9. I’ve heard you are excellent student (4.0).  Tell me about favorite subjects and where the discipline to be a great student, as well as an athlete, came from?

My favorite subject is English … I think it’s because I like to write.  I think I’m a better writer than reader.  I always felt like school was more important than sports, and that in order to do sports, you should be doing well in school.  I always put school first.  That’s something my parents beat into me … (laughs) figuratively, that is, not literally!

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