Abena Asare ’18 had a rookie season last year that has already made her one of the most decorated Blue Track and Field athletes in history. She was named the 2015 NEWMAC Rookie of the Year and holds school records in the indoor and outdoor long jump, the indoor high jump and the indoor and outdoor triple jump. Her best long jump so far this season has been 5.79m, which is just under 19 feet. Last year, Asare was 9th in the long jump at NCAA Nationals and she is currently ranked 6th this year in the Division III national ranking. Along with long jump, triple jump and high jump, Asare also runs sprints and takes part in sprinting relays. Asare hails from Berlin, NJ where she grew up playing several sports, but ultimately deciding that track was what suited her best. Wellesley News spoke with Asare to discuss her goals for the remainder of the indoor track season and what she has done differently to improve on her already impressive jumping record.
Laura Brindley ’16 (L.B.): Who or what inspired you to do track?
Abena Asare ’18 (A.A.): Probably my dad. He was the one who pushed me to do track. I have done track since I was 8 years old. He did track in high school and elementary school and he is a person who I look up to and he is always at meets cheering me on.
L.B.: Why did you decide to do track at Wellesley?
A.A.: At first I was not too sure about doing track, but I would say that after talking to Coach Meg [LaBella] and Coach Phil [Jennings] who seemed very positive about the track team here at Wellesley and said that it would be a great experience. When I came to Spring Open Campus and met the team, I felt a close bond with the team. I felt that track was something that I always loved to do and I felt that being able to do it at Wellesley was a great opportunity. It was not something that would take away from my academics since Wellesley is DIII.
L.B.: Did you do any other sports growing up?
A.A.: I did cheerleading, soccer and basketball for a year. Track was definitely the sport that stuck with me. I danced for a little bit too.
L.B.: What is your favorite workout to do at practice?
A.A.: I would say our jump days. There are certain days when we really focus on technique. Coach Meg will get out the high jump mats to perfect our landing technique and technique in the air. Those workouts have helped me focus on techniques that I would not necessarily focus on all the time.
L.B.: What are some of your personal goals for the rest of indoor and going into outdoor?
A.A.: Right now I am ranked 6th in DIII, so I hope to go to Nationals. We are going into ECACs this coming week, so I am hoping to jump really well there. If I don’t beat my personal best, I hope to jump really well. Going into outdoor, I would like to win DIIIs again for outdoor. I would like to win the All-New England title and eventually go to Outdoor Nationals in that too.
L.B.: Have you done anything differently this year in terms of training than you did last year?
A.A.: This year, we focused on speed more in the beginning. Last year, I was injured with a sprained ankle, so I guess that was a factor. This year I have been running the 60m more, so the speed is what translated into my better jumps this year. It showed last year in outdoors and this year we are just starting earlier.
L.B.: What is the hardest thing about long jump, triple jump and high jump?
A.A.: The hardest thing is resetting yourself after every jump. It is an event that is very mental in the fact that if you mess up the first jump, then you psych yourself out for your next jumps, so you need to not focus on your previous jump and just focus on the jumps ahead of you. That is something that I have been able to fix over the past couple years. You have to focus on the jump ahead of you and not focus on the jump behind you.
L.B.: Do you have any pre-meet rituals?
A.A.: I just take time to focus. On the bus, I put my headphones in and kind of zone people out. During the meet, I just focus on what I have to do and think ahead about what my goals are for the meet and go after them.
L.B.: Who is your favorite professional athlete?
A.A.: I would say Sanya Richards-Ross who is a track runner. I have been obsessed with her as long as I can remember. She’s a great athlete and role model for women. She is passionate about what she does and she is also passionate about getting children to stay active, which is also what I am passionate about. I have stalked her at Penn Relays and online. She tweeted at me once in middle school!
L.B.: What is one word of advice you would give to someone hoping to improve in sprinting or jumping?
A.A.: I would say that you need to focus. You can do anything you set your mind to. Nothing comes easy. It all comes down to training and what you do in practice. Practice is the time to improve. If you want to see results, you have to put in the work early on!
Photo courtesy of Frank Poulin Photography