Senior high-jumper places third in championships, named All-American

Tiana Wills practices the high jump on the track at Cox Stadium Monday, March 17. Photo by Jenny Sokolova / Xpress Tiana Wills practices the high jump on the track at Cox Stadium Monday, March 17. Photo by Jenny Sokolova / Xpress

Senior high-jumper Tiana Wills has been named an All-American, but she is full of disappointment.

“I was not expecting to get third place, especially knowing I can go higher,” Wills said of her performance at the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships in Winston-Salem, N.C. over the weekend. “It was disappointing ending my season like that.”

She said when she is so focused on winning, her performance is never as good as she wants it to be.

To top it off, she has always had problems with her back, volunteer SF State coach and one-on-one trainer Moris Lozovatskiy gave her a massage right before the meet. But the pain still lingered.

“I was trying to not think about my back hurting,” Wills said. “I need to learn how to be focused and still do good without distracting myself first.”

Wills cleared 5’10.5”, placing her in third. She attempted to clear the bar at 5’11.5”, but was unsuccessful.

Taking first was Western State’s senior Barbara Szabo who cleared 6’2”, a height Wills said she knows she can jump, since she cleared it in her last meet at the USATF Indoor Championships.

And now, as Wills is officially finished with her college track and field career, she will continue training with Lozovatskiy until she relocates to San Diego to train as an unattached high jumper this summer.

Lozovatskiy said he thinks (Wills) could not recover fully in the time she had between competitions, since her recent USA Champs performance exhausted her both physically and psychologically.

“She gives a lot of energy and jumped very well,” he said. “But her body was tired.”

Though Wills was disappointed in her performance, interim head coach Tom Lyons was quick to point out how successful she has been throughout her career at SF State.

“When you go for the win and don’t get it, you’re going to be disappointed,” Lyons said. “But when you stand back and look at how well she has done over the course of her time here, then it is very impressive.”

With high-jump, timing is everything, Lyons said when talking about Wills’ claim that she had a less than par performance at champs.

“Her jumps looked good, but in the high jump it is just a matter of inches,” he added. “The timing wasn’t there and she unfortunately had a few near misses.”

Lyons said the time he has spent with Wills over the past few years will always be a fond memory.

“You’d never know she is one of the best in the country when you see her at practice everyday,” Lyons said. “She is a good teammate and very much apart of the team. It has been fantastic and really good for our program.”

Symone Ramirez, junior hurdler and teammate of Wills since her early days at SF State, said she is very happy for all Wills’ accomplishments.

“She’s an amazing high-jumper…we all know she could have done better. She came in really good from the start,” Ramirez said.

Wills said she appreciates everyone supporting her during the small gathering that took place on Monday, where a congratulations and final words were shared amongst coaches and peers as she concludes her time as a Gator.

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