May 17, 2012
It was already shaping up as an incredible day for Shaniae Lakes last Sunday as the junior had topped all her career-bests through five out of six attempts. Lakes was sitting in second-place in the triple jump at the Pac-12 Championships at Hayward Field. Her third attempt went 41-feet, 10-inches, breaking the previous school record held by Tara Davis since 1995, and setting a new PR for Lakes by six inches. But that was just the beginning. Her next two jumps, though both wind-aided (above 2.0 meters-per-second), were both past the 42-foot mark, a first for the Richland, Wash. native. The fourth jump, 42-6 ¼, moved Lakes into second-place on the day. Then came the final trip down the runway, with Lakes taking a huge stride on her second jump and finishing it off with a big stretch into the pit. Her teammates cheered in the stands as 43-3 ¼ flashed up on the scoreboard, a wind-legal mark that now gives her the school record by more than a foot and a half over second. That would be just one inch short of the first conference triple jump title in Husky history, but Lakes is suddenly in the Top-10 nationally and looking to advance past the NCAA Prelims round where her season has ended each of the past two years.
GH: So Pac-12s was obviously a huge breakthrough for you. What do you think made the difference last weekend?
Shaniae Lakes: It was just getting my form together at the right time, that has been the biggest problem for the entire time I have been here. I came in with bad form and you can only go so far with bad form. I think that I have been working really hard on my form and it just came together. I was not expecting to go that far.
GH: You actually first broke the school record on your third attempt. Did you realize that at the time?
SL: Not initially, because I couldn't really see where I was because they didn't have the markers out telling you approximately where you were jumping, but I was still happy anyway because I knew it was a pretty good mark.
GH: You had never gone 42-feet and then your last three jumps were all past that.
SL: That was really surprising. I knew I was going to PR, but I never expected to go that much farther. I thought about going 42, but then I thought, well, maybe I could win it on that last one.
GH: So 43-3 on that last jump, did it feel huge when you hit the sand?
SL: I knew it was bigger than the other jumps, but I didn't know how much bigger, I wasn't sure. Usually on my last jump I am the most focused because it is my last chance and I need to do the best I possibly can. I knew it was better than the other ones, but I just didn't know where it was at.
GH: Walking away, seeing the number, did you think `Okay, I know I can do that now'? Now that you know what it feels like is it something you can duplicate?
SL: Yeah, it did especially after I did 42 twice and a high 41. It definitely seemed like something I could definitely do again and hopefully go farther.
GH: Yeah, and you'd have to think that 43-feet would make the top-12 in Austin and get through to the next rounds in Iowa. So does jumping that mark change your goals or expectations for NCAAs?
SL: My goal was actually to make it to the finals at (West Prelims) initially, just because I'd never made it to finals (earning all six attempts). But now I could possibly even make it further than that.
GH: You've had three years working to get to this point, what are some of the little technical things you've had to develop?
SL: Pretty much everything; first phase, run up, run through, every stage, pretty much the entire thing. I came in almost with nothing, just the bare minimum of form, that is pretty much why it took me so long to get to this point because I just really had to work on it. And I still have room for improvement, so hopefully I can go even farther.
GH: You've had a lot of success with the triple jump but not as much with the long jump. What makes some jumpers better at one or the other?
SL: Not exactly sure, because some people are good at both, some are good at either one, not really sure why. Triple jump is harder than long jump technically, but with my strength I'm able to do better in it. Speed is important in both but speed is really important in long jump.
GH: You did the multi-events in high school and early on here at UW. Do you miss that at all?
SL: I liked doing all the different events, I just didn't like doing the 800, and, well, pretty much just the 800 was really it. I have never been a distance runner, so running hard that many laps was really hard.
GH: How did you first get into track and into the triple jump?
SL: I initially tried a lot of events. I noticed one day at track practice in high school that there were a lot of people in line to work on long jump and only three people in line to work on triple jump, so I just went over one day and that is pretty much how I started.
GH: Coach Drake was joking after the meet that he thought you didn't jump well based on your reaction. You don't seem to show a lot of emotion out there.
SL: (laughs) I would have if I would have known where I was at, I just didn't know looking down at the sand, I had no idea what I was doing. So If I had some idea of where I was at I would have been ecstatic. But since I didn't know initially that's why I wasn't that happy. I was more happy at the very end because I was so close to winning and then I PR'd a lot that day.
GH: So you have a couple younger siblings, correct?
SL: Yeah, my brother is 18 and sister is 16. They both did track in high school. My brother goes to WSU and still goes to open meets, but is not at the team at WSU. My sister's best event is probably the 400, maybe the 400 and shot put. She is pretty strong too.
GH: I imagine your phone was pretty busy after the meet with people congratulating you?
SL: Yeah, everyone was surprised, I was surprised, everyone was. It was just surprising that I jumped that much farther in one meet.
GH: Talk a bit about what you're majoring in.
SL: I'm majoring in environmental science and also trying to get into econ as a double major.
GH: What sparked the interest in Environmental Science?
SL: At the end of last year. I had an internship to do with it, but I eventually want to do an ESE masters, I don't know what university for masters. Environmental Science Engineering, that is the last goal for me. Then maybe work in alternative energy, or you can work on how food is made. I am not exactly sure what I want to do, I will just see when I get there.
GH: Sounds like a good start. Thanks and congrats on the big weekend!