In the circle with Billie-Jo Grant
Senior All-American Billie-Jo Grant is among eight Cavaliers who have qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships next weekend in Des Moines, Iowa. This will be Grant’s third appearance at nationals, where she earned All-America honors in 2005 and 2006 before redshirting last season. Grant qualified for the championships by winning the discus at the NCAA East Regional Championships, joining Inge Jorgensen as the only two Cavaliers to ever win events at the regional meet – Jorgensen won the javelin in 2004 and 2005. Grant will throw the discus at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, June 11 for the qualifying rounds. If she advances, she will compete at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 13 for a NCAA title.
Question: You have earned All-America honors during both of your seasons of outdoor competition. After redshirting last year, how anxious are you to get back to the NCAA Championships?
Grant: I am very excited to be back at the national championships. This year I am stronger and healthier than I have ever been and plan to be very competitive at the meet. Although I took a medical redshirt last year, I look forward to the national championships all year. This is the time to compete at the highest level and hope you end up on top.
Question: You automatically qualified for nationals this year by winning the discus at regionals, becoming just the second Cavalier to ever win any title at that meet (Inge Jorgensen won the javelin in 2004 and 2005). What does that say about your accomplishments and progress this season? And even your career as a whole?
Grant: Winning a regional championship I think is a testament to being a great competitor. Every meet I try to do my best that day and I consistently perform at a high level. Regionals and ACC’s are about who is the best on that day- regardless of how far you have thrown in the past. Although I may not be the No. 1 ranked thrower coming into the meet, I will always compete the best I can that day. When I compete, I come to win.
Question: When was it that you knew, or found out, that you had won the event? What was your reaction?
Grant: You never know if you have won the meet until the last thrower has thrown. Walking into the circle on my last throw of the competition, I was relieved to know that I had qualified for nationals and it was even more special to know that I had won the region, although I didn’t realize the significance of the title at the time. It provides great momentum coming into the national meet.
Question: You have now won an ACC Championship and a Regional Championship in the discus. How does that help prepare you for this next championship meet? And what goals have you set for yourself at the NCAA Championships?
Grant: Having the confidence from last week has carried into my practices this week and has helped my rhythm in the circle. Knowing that I can compete at a high level has prepared me for the upcoming championships. Being in multiple championships has also helped because I am more familiar with the competition and what to expect. I plan to place in the top three at the NCAA Championships next week.
Question: As your career comes to a close, you have won numerous championships in both the shot put and the discus and, you hold the school record in the discus and are second in the shot put. What are the coaches doing now to prepare you that is making the biggest difference in your training that you will carry with you?
Grant: My coach, Carrie Lane, and I have tried many different strategies to best prepare my body for throwing at a big championship the last few years. Because of a weak shoulder, I have thrown less volume and lifted less than in the past. Every week we have a new assessment of the best strategy to maximize training potential while also limiting injury. This next week we will continue throwing for rhythm and consistency while maintaining strength in the weight room.