March 9, 2013
• Results | Flax Interview
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Success for combined events athletes is often measured by the number of personal-best marks they achieve in the individual disciplines that make up their competitions.
By any measure, Jessica Flax was a success Saturday.
The Wisconsin senior opened her day at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships with a career-best run in the 60 hurdles, but what left a lasting impression was how she closed out her time in the cardinal and white with the best finish of her career.
Flax put the wraps on her run as a Badger by finishing eighth in the pentathlon to secure the third All-America honor of her career -- and her first indoors – behind a lifetime-best score of 4,112 points.
“I’m happy,” Flax said. “I’m sad that it’s over, but my time has come and my work is done.
“I’m glad the way I left it.”
She led a 1-2 punch for the Badgers in the event, with teammate Deanna Latham finishing 11th. The sophomore scored a career-best 4,066 points.
Sophomore Kelsey Card rounded out UW's final day of competition with a 13th-place finish in the shot put, throwing 53 feet, 2 1/4 inches.
For Flax, success came despite the fact that she would much rather be outdoors competing in the seven-event heptathlon that plays more into her strengths as an athlete.
“I hate indoors,” Flax said. “I shouldn’t say I hate it, because this is my sport and what I choose to do, but it’s definitely one of my struggles.
“Indoors is not Jessica Flax, because I feel like I have limited opportunities, but this is the best I can do and I got eighth, so I can’t complain.”
The competition opened well for the Badgers, with Latham running out to second place in the standings after one event thanks to her school-record run of 8.34 seconds in the 60 hurdles.
Flax also sprinted to her best-ever run over the barriers in 8.46.
A weight was lifted once Flax cleared her opening height of 5 feet, 1/2 inch in the high jump. Last year, Flax failed to clear a bar during her NCAA indoor debut and was relegated to a 16th-place finish.
This time around, she and Latham both cleared 5-4 1/2 to keep their competitions moving along.
A strong thrower, Flax had the third-best mark in the shot put at 41-0 1/4 to buoy her standing, while Latham threw 37-4.
Flax’s move up the standings continued when she leapt to an indoor personal-best mark of 18-6 1/2 in the long jump.
Latham came back strong and finished just off her career best by leaping 19-6 3/4.
The pair closed things out with strong runs that each fell about a second short of the athletes’ lifetime bests in the 800 meters. Flax ran 2:16.15, with Latham clocking in at 2:22.77.
Even though her collegiate eligibility has been exhausted, Flax is primed for the move outdoors to the heptathlon, an event for which she is well-suited with her talent in the throwing events. Last year, she was fourth in her final NCAA outdoor championships competed at the 2012 USA Olympic Trials.
Flax plans to continue training in Madison for this summer’s 2013 USA Outdoor Championships while serving as a volunteer coach for the Badgers.
That means Flax won’t be leaving fellow senior Dorcas Akinniyi, who has one season of outdoor eligibility remaining, just yet. Together, the pair jump-started UW’s multi-events success and have combined for seven Big Ten championships and nine All-America performances.
Now, after five years, the duo is in the process of passing the baton to a new generation.
“I feel like Dorcas and I left a good path for the girls to come through and dominate, reach NCAAs, and I don’t know what else they’re going to do,” she said. “We feel like we brought them up, and they’re strong.”