Jeff Kolpack, Published January 16 2014
Kolpack: Smock returns, but her old stomping grounds have a new look
She’ll take the podium from 11-11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Howard Johnson Hotel in downtown Fargo. Then, in the afternoon, she’ll have a chance to put her money where her mouth is.
The Olympic triple jumper will return to compete at her alma mater for the first time since leaving North Dakota State in 2004 as a NCAA Division II national champion. Her event is expected to begin at 3:30 p.m. at the Shelly Ellig Indoor Track & Field Facility.
Much has changed since she left NDSU, most notably the program moved to Division I, and the indoor complex is now top notch. She last saw the building when it was under construction and crews were pouring the concrete floor.
“I’ve seen pictures, and it looks awesome,” Smock said.
She’s been the subject of many triple jump victory pictures, with the last time winning the event at the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships. That was after competing in the 2012 London Olympics, a rare feat for an NDSU graduate.
In the weeks leading up to the Games, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue or retire. The fact she’s using the Bison Classic as her first meet of this season is an obvious answer.
She’s still at it.
“I struggle making big commitments beyond the current year I’m in now,” Smock said. “Mostly now because I’m 31 years old, and I’m not exactly sure how much longer my longevity is in terms of athletics.”
One factor keeping her going is she feels she hasn’t reached her potential yet. As long as she stays healthy and continues to jump at an elite level, don’t rule out a run at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
She hasn’t jumped competitively since August, so the plan is take just four of the allowable six jumps on Saturday. She’ll use a shorter approach so getting the necessary speed to bust a huge jump will not be there.
“I’ll put my full effort in, but I’m not expecting a lifetime best,” she said.
But the timing was right to come to Fargo. Her next indoor meet will be in Chicago, and she’ll spend the rest of the indoor season training with her coach in San Diego.
Two weeks ago, she watched the NDSU football team beat Towson in the FCS national title game at a party in Apple Valley with several former Bison track and field athletes.
“I think as more time passes, I feel like a proud parent being part of the track program,” Smock said. “I’m just impressed with the path the program has taken. I’m not really surprised because the coaching staff is so amazing but for them to step up the bar and level of competition is great. I think the whole field of athletics at NDSU is really something I’m proud to continue to be a part of.”
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia