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KU’s Geubelle chases elusive triple jump title

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, June 4, 2013, at 7:59 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, June 4, 2013, at 8:15 p.m.

— On the day his daughter learned to jump, Jeff Geubelle had no idea what was coming. He couldn’t know that his little girl would someday become the best college triple-jumper in the country, or the most decorated women’s track athlete in the history of the University of Kansas.

He couldn’t know that his daughter would vow to change the face of American jumping.

All he knew was that Andrea, the daughter that always wanted to win, had been dragged to a long-jump pit by a curious high school coach at Curtis High in University Place, Wash. The man had seen Andrea on the high school volleyball court, a bouncy athlete with speed and strength, and he wondered how it would translate to the long jump.

So off Andrea went, tearing down the runway with almost no technical training, exploding into the sand pit.

“She jumped somewhere around 18 feet,” Jeff Geubelle says now. “And I asked the coach the question: ‘Is that good?’ And he showed me the Washington state record book. It was almost a record.

“Yeah,” the coach said. “That’s real good.”

So maybe Andrea Geubelle was destined for this. That’s one explanation. Nearly six years after her first jump, Geubelle will conclude an illustrious Kansas career this week at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field championships in Eugene, Ore.

Geubelle, who will compete in the long jump and triple jump, will be attempting to lead the No. 1-ranked Kansas women to their first NCAA track title, but she’ll also be trying to close out an accolade-laden individual career.

The resume reads like this: Two-time reigning NCAA Indoor champ in the triple jump; reigning NCAA Indoor champ in the long jump; five-time outdoor All-American. There’s only one line still missing — and Geubelle has spent the last 12 months focused on changing that.

“I want that outdoor title,” Geubelle says.

Last year, at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, Geubelle believed she had won the outdoor title in triple jump. In fact, she had. She jumped 14.32 meters (46.98 feet), an NCAA meet record, and nobody else had done better.

But during the meet, unbeknownst to Geubelle or her coaches, Southern Mississippi coach Kevin Stephen had protested her winning jump. Geubelle’s jump was disallowed, and Southern Miss’ Ganna Demydova won the event.

Geubelle learned of the protest later, after she had celebrated the title. It was a heartbreaking scene. If Geubelle would have known of the protest, she might have been more cautious in her final jumps. Instead, she went all out — and scratched.

“I can remember it to a T,” Geubelle says. “It’s kind of hard thing to forget. I wish I could forget.”

Geubelle rebounded at the NCAA Indoor meet in March, taking home her second straight indoor title in the triple jump. She also bagged a surprise NCAA title in the long jump. Not bad for someone who readily admits to using the long jump as extra practice for the triple jump.

“I probably practice the long jump one time for every six triple-jump practices,” she says.

The success is what she envisioned when she picked KU over a list of other choices. Her father, Jeff, had grown up a diehard KU fan in Lakin, and the family connections — along with learning under KU jumps coach Wayne Pate — made KU a desirable destination.

“I saw a pretty easy transition from high school to college,” Geubelle said, “and I could kind of pick up where I left off.”

Geubelle hit the ground running in Lawrence. And the ability to master both events has prompted KU coach Stanley Redwine to call Geubelle the best combination jumper in Kansas history. And Redwine has seen some decent jumpers in his day.

When he was running at Arkansas in the early 1980s, Redwine was collegiate teammates with Mike Conley, an America record-holder in the triple jump who also excelled in the long jump.

“I always say,” Redwine says, “that Andrea Geubelle is the female version of Mike Conley.”

Geubelle shrugs her shoulders at the comparison, but she’s not shy about her rather lofty career goals. For years, American women have fallen behind in the triple jump, a discipline that can take nearly a decade to perfect.

“Other countries are going 48 feet, and we’re kind of stuck in the 46-foot range,” Geubelle says. “I’m kind of hoping to change the face of triple jump in the U.S.”

The plan, Geubelle says, includes two more Olympic cycles — if her body holds up — and more time in Lawrence working with Pate. But for now, with her college career winding down, Geubelle would settle for the two honors that have eluded her and her school: An outdoor title in the triple jump … and a team championship to go with it.

“I think we still have something to prove,” Geubelle says, “just because we’ve never been a No. 1 team. It’s all about who shows up that day.”

WSU’s Tuliamuk runs — Wichita State senior Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton will attempt to earn her 12th All-America honor when she competes in the 10,000 meters Wednesday night in Eugene. She will also compete Friday in the 5000. She has the second-fastest 10K time and third-fastest 5K time in the field this season.

Tuliamuk-Bolton placed third in the 5,000 and sixth in the 3,000 at this season’s NCAA Indoor meet. She was second in the 10,000 and fifth in the 5,000 at last year’s Outdoor meet. She holds the school record in all four events.

WSU’s Austin Bahner begins competition in the decathlon on Wednesday, and Thomas Cotter runs in the steeplechase semifinals Wednesday night.

Tanya Friesen will begin heptathlon competition Thursday. She ranks seventh in the event.

Jon Rizzo’s javelin competition begins Saturday.

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