May 26, 2012
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Jordan Helgren's summer schedule suddenly looks a little different.
Just a week removed from receiving her diploma, the retailing major is set to begin an internship in Milwaukee this week.
Turns out she'll already be asking for some time off.
Thanks to her best effort in more than three years, the senior earned her first-ever NCAA championships berth with a 12th-place finish in the triple jump Saturday at the 2012 NCAA West Preliminary Round.
The performance made Helgren the eighth member of the Wisconsin women's track and field team to earn a trip to the NCAA championships.
Her season-best leap of 41 feet, 8 1/2 inches came on her first attempt of the competition. The mark, Helgren's best since a wind-aided performance of 42-0 1/2 in 2009, stood up through an additional five rounds of jumps to earn her the NCAA berth that comes along with a top-12 finish.
"It was my first jump and usually that's my best one," Helgren said. "The one-and-done thing really has a meaning for me. It felt so good to hit that first one and give me some confidence.
"I'm just glad my number stayed up there."
The performance continued a late-season surge for Helgren, who's battled a nagging foot injury and even tweaked her jumping style during the season in an attempt to compensate. An eighth-place showing at the Big Ten championships two weeks ago broke her string of five consecutive top-five finishes in conference competition.
"A month ago, I was in a rut, struggling, and I couldn't get out," Helgren said. "I switched legs in the triple jump halfway through the outdoor season and was really having a hard time, until Big Tens came. I switched back to the other leg and things went so much better.
"I'm not complaining about how things turned out."
Now, Helgren will be looking to clear her calendar June 6-9 for a trip to Des Moines, Iowa.
"This is absolutely incredible," Helgren said. "I couldn't wish for anything else. It's the cherry on top of my entire athletic career."
Also Saturday, senior Kyla Chapman raced in the 5000 meters and clocked in at 17 minutes, 24.99 seconds to finish 35th.
Sophomore Liga Blyholder, who raced her way into the quarterfinals of the 1500 meters with a strong performance Thursday, closed out her season with a run of 4:31.62 to finish 20th overall.
Helgren added her name to the list of Badgers packing bags for Des Moines: junior Caitlin Comfort (10,000 meters), senior Monika Jakutyte (high jump), junior Taylor Smith (shot put), freshman Kelsey Card (shot put) and the trio of senior Jessica Flax, junior Dorcas Akinniyi and sophomore Deanna Latham (heptathlon).