Three years ago, Toni Young was a high school senior ready to three-peat as state champion in the high jump. She was notching her name in the record books, tying the national mark for a high school jumper with a 6-foot, 4-inch jump. Oh yeah, and she played a little basketball too, leading Del City to the state title. And, she dunked in - and won - the Big All-City dunk contest as the lone female in the event.
69 days ago on March 31, Toni Young was at Gallagher-Iba Arena, pouring in 25 points, pulling down nine rebounds, hoisting a trophy and cutting down a basketball net as Oklahoma State won the WNIT and Young picked up tournament MVP honors. She averaged over 20 points a night during the tournament and I started to see her sneak in layup line dunks by the end of the season, something she had refrained from doing since breaking her arm to end the 2011 basketball season. [Read more about her dunk-ability]
48 days ago on April 20, Toni Young took the infield in Fayetteville, Ark., at the John McDonnell Invitational. The multi-sport star was back and ready to rock. She took first place in the high jump with a 5-10 effort from the 6-2 athlete. A week later in Palo Alto, Calif., she 'slipped' a notch, earning second place at the Payton Jordan Invitational with a 6-0.5 leap over the bar.
She regained her place atop the podium with a return trip to Arkansas to start the month of May before heading to the Big 12 Championships where she earned the silver and turned in a jump tied for fourth-best in the NCAA this season. Her jump of 6-1.25 is now the best in OSU history, passing a mark of 5-11.25 that had been on the books since 1987.
At the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds last weekend in Austin, Texas, Young tied for first with a 5-10.75 leap after the qualifying competition was stopped when the field was pared down to below the maximum number of athletes advancing.
Friday, with just five collegiate high jump competitions under her belt, Toni Young will begin her quest for a national title at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. The women's high jump finals are slated to begin at 4:30 p.m. CT, where she'll be competing as one of the top 24 collegians in the country.
Just like riding a bike, Young still has the stuff she needs to compete at the highest levels of the sport, with no surprise to the Cowgirl coaching staff.
"I think she always had her eye on coming back to track and jumping," OSU track and field coach Dave Smith said of his newest addition to the squad. "Her first year, it's kind of overwhelming learning a new system and being away from home. I think she got to the end of the season and was tired. Her second year, she wanted to jump, but then she broke her arm. This year, she came back and said she wanted to jump and get back into it, so here we are. Three years after her last competition, she's already ranked (fourth) in the NCAA."
Not only is she jumping for a title and All-America honors in 2012, but there is another possibility waiting in the wings. Should she elevate just a quarter of an inch more than her mark set at the Big 12 Championships, she will automatically qualify to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials at the end of June. And should that occur? Who knows, maybe Young's summer vacation will include a trip to London.