San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Shanieka Thomas gets new start at SDSU

In St. Andrews, Jamaica, junior triple jumper Shanieka Thomas had been a proud net baller since the age of 6.

However, Thomas’ talents in the sport of track and field had got the best of her and she was ready to put the netball down for some spikes. To pursue her passion for track, she then pre- pared to move all the way to San Diego, a city she had never been to.

“I just needed a new environment and a change,” Thomas said.

Since her arrival at San Diego State, Thomas has continued to have unbelievable seasons fueled by her ever-growing triple jump marks.

But Thomas’ talents had long been predicted by assistant coach Carjay Lyles who recruited her and was determined to make her an Aztec. Lyles was so determined he even climbed a fence just to get the opportunity to share his confidence in her.

“I told her, ‘You know you have talent beyond measure and it’s not about me, but I can take you to where you want to go,’” Lyles said.

During her senior year at Vere Technical High School in Jamaica, Thomas had suffered an injury and was overlooked by many other coaches.

Nevertheless, Lyles still saw the potential in Thomas.

“I literally told her, ‘Trust me and I’ll take care of you,’” Lyles said. “I think she saw the seriousness in me and the seriousness in my eyes.”

Thomas arrived at SDSU nervous, but ready to learn and compete.

In her first year as an Aztec, Thomas had already captured the third-best triple jump mark in SDSU history at 42 feet and 7 inches, she got runner-up at the Mountain West Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships and qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds. That same season she tied for the third-best high jump mark in SDSU history.

During her freshman outdoor season, Thomas placed second in triple jump at the MW Outdoor Championships with a mark of 41 feet and 8 inches.

As a sophomore, Thomas continued to flourish in the jumps.

This time around she won the MW

Indoor Championships and at the Don Kirby Elite Invitational she captured the second-best mark in school history at 43 feet and 9.25 inches

Thomas’ success on the field carried on into the outdoor season, where she won the triple jump in the MW Outdoor Championships, finished runner-up in the triple jump at the NCAA Championships and placed third in the triple jump at the Jamaican Olympic Trials.

This past year as a junior, Thomas’ talents on the field began to erupt.

She helped her team win its first – ever MW Indoor Championship title, while also winning the triple jump. This capped off a season in which she got the sixth-best triple jump mark in NCAA history, broke the MW triple jump and the school record. Thomas was even named Women’s West Region Field Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association

During the outdoor season, Thomas broke the school record in the triple jump with a mark of 45 feet and 1 inch and went on to win the NCAA title in triple jump with a mark of 46 feet and 4 inches. She was also named the MW Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Student-Athlete of the Year.

It can take track and field athletes years to improve their marks by so

much but every season Thomas has improved her mark by half a meter.

“I’m learning each year and I’m getting better because I’m learning and I’m also getting stronger and more focused,” Thomas said.

Thomas continues to break and set new records as she becomes more athletic, knowledgeable and comfortable triple jumping.

“I have the school record and it won’t be hard to break that because I know I’m going to be improving,” Thomas said. “ If I keep focusing and keep getting stronger I know I will be able to do that.”

So far, Thomas has had an out- standing track and field career at SDSU, and believe or not she still has another year left.

Currently, Thomas has traveled back to Jamaica to compete in the Jamaican National Championships where she will try and qualify for the International Association of Athletics Federations World Champion- ships in Moscow.

Through her hard work, drive and positive attitude Thomas is sure to have another breakout year as a senior Aztec.

“Thomas is the peak of the ice- berg, but she’s just the tip of what’s getting ready to happen here,” Lyles said.

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Shanieka Thomas gets new start at SDSU