Asherah's Achievement

ORLANDO – Speed. Good posture. Hit the board. Land.
Asherah Collins calculated and envisioned her motions as she sprinted down the runway. It was her final attempt to move into the top 12, her final chance to punch her ticket to the NCAA Championship in Eugene, Oregon.
"I was very, very nervous," the triple jumper said. "I feel like that affected me a lot when I was jumping, but I kept telling myself to calm down. Coach (Glenn) Smith kept telling me to calm down. That last jump I had to calm myself down in order to perform at my greatest potential."
Performing at her greatest potential is nothing new for Collins.
"At field day in elementary school, I would always beat everybody out there," Collins said. "On the last day of fifth grade, my teacher told me I should try out for track in middle school. My first year, I made it to state in the long jump and it just went on from there."
As she began the recruiting process, UCF was her first offer. She says it felt like home and told her mother she didn't want to be anything but a Knight.
The Lake City, Florida, native arrived on campus in the fall of 2020 and wasted no time adding her name to the record book. Despite having just two indoor meets to work with, she set the freshman indoor record in the triple jump.
Her success carried over to the outdoor campaign as she set the rookie record in the triple jump at the season opener on March 20.
But she couldn't seem to replicate her success over the next three meets.
"After I set the record in the first meet, my jumps were up and down, up and down, up and down."
On April 24, Collins picked up her first triple jump title of the season, winning the event in her home pit. She then headed to the track to run the 100-meter dash. As she was nearing the finish line, she strained her hamstring and spent the next two weeks rehabbing.
She returned to action just in time for the American Athletic Conference Outdoor Championship.
"I felt confident going into conference," Collins said. "I was ready the first day (in Tampa). I was like 'I'm ready to jump; I'm ready to jump. Why does our jump day have to be the last day we're here? I'm ready to jump now.' I was so ready."
'Ready' was an understatement.
Collins was already above the qualifying line for the NCAA East Preliminary, but her first jump of the day — a 42-11.5/13.09m mark — broke her own freshman record, carried her to the top of the podium as UCF's first triple jump champion in The American and solidified her spot in Jacksonville.
Two weeks later, while waiting for her flight to begin at Hodges Stadium, the anxiety began to rise.
"I told my coach before I did (the last) jump that I really wanted to go to Oregon," Collins said. "My eyes were watering. He told me 'Just calm down. You're good. You're going to jump it. I see it in you. It's going to come.' And it finally came."
As soon as Collins landed, she knew it was a good jump. The smile spread across her face as she stood up in the sand. As she walked out of the pit, she clapped her hands. Then she heard the mark: 43 feet, 1.5 inches (13.14m).
"I PR'd! I was so happy. Even if I didn't make it to Oregon that day, at least I came out there and did what I had to do."
Her first call was to her dad in New York. She wanted him to be the first to know.
Now, Collins has one more opportunity to go out and perform at her best. As she prepares for Eugene, she's had time to reflect on her first season as a Knight.
"It really amazed me. I didn't think I could come here and break records as a freshman, but my mom always tells me 'Go out there and do what you gotta do. You're as good as anybody; I don't care what class you're in.' Making her proud is the thing I think about most."
The triple jump final will take place on Saturday, June 12 at 6:20 ET/3:20 PT in Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.