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WOMEN’S TRACK AND FIELD: Cowan’s hopes to make 6-foot jump

Ryan Kiefer | Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Two weeks ago Stacey Cowan ran down the high jump runway, leapt and cleared the bar. This was not surprising for Notre Dame’s All-American high jumper, who had just cleared a season best 1.80 meters (5 feet, 10 3/4 inches). What Irish coach Scott Winsor told her after the jump was quite a surprise to Cowan.”That would have easily cleared six feet,” Winsor told his star high jumper.Six feet, 1.829 meters, 72 inches. Whatever you call this height, Stacey Cowan now knows she can clear it, and this is the stated goal for Notre Dame’s top high jumper. Clearing six feet would place Cowan among the elite high jumpers in the NCAA, and would take Cowan to what Winsor refers to as the “next level.””What is remarkable about Stacey is her consistency at a very high level. She’s ready to take it to the next step and compete at the highest level of competition,” Winsor said. Cowan, a native of Ferndale, Wash., started jumping in the seventh grade, but it wasn’t until her freshman year of high school that she discovered her natural ability in the event. That year she cleared five feet, seven inches setting a personal best by nine inches. Ability got her to that point, but it has been her work ethic and dedication that have allowed her to overcome a less than ideal high jump frame. “She’s not as tall as some of the other jumpers, but she has been able to close the gap with her natural jumping ability and hard work,” Winsor said. Described as upbeat and positive off the track, Cowan drew the attention of the coaching staff early in her Notre Dame career because of her competitive and motivated nature. It’s hardly a surprise then, that the junior is a pre-med major. Though she found balancing academics and athletics difficult at first, Cowan has settled in and found her niche on the Irish track and field team. Cowan’s second place performance against a strong field of jumpers at last weekend’s Meyo Invita-tional showed her potential, and her comments showed the competitive nature her coaches love. “It was disappointing that I wasn’t able to clear 1.8 meters like last week. Everyone was missing, and since we feed off each other, it was difficult to get going. I was happy when I found out I took second though, considering there were two Olympic Trail athletes in the field,” Cowan said. Winsor was confident in his athlete’s ability to reach her six-foot goal. “She’s so competitive, and she just wants to win. If we make a few technical adjustments, she’ll be there,” he said.Cowan agreed, but kept her personal goal in perspective and focused more on the team’s performance so far in the regular season. “I can push myself to the six foot level. As a team, though, we want to win the Big East. With [last year’s champion] Miami gone [to the ACC] we feel it’s right there for us this year,” she said.