Denson first ever TSU track star
Published 12:00 am Friday, May 5, 2000
to make Division-IA Championships
By STEVEN G. WATSON
It’s the first time a Troy State track team member has made it to the Division I NCAA Track Championships, but as freshman year don’t expect Alisha Denson to ever be satisfied.
In her first year as a Trojan Trackster, Denson has been the highlight of many Troy State track meets during the season. The Titusville, Florida native put a solid three inches on her average high school height of 5-foot-8-inches, but is still looking to break that six-foot barrier.
"Coming in my personal goal was to jump at least six foot, but there were a lot of things I had to do," Denson said. "I had to get my technique down and there were a lot of other things I had to learn before I could do that."
Denson qualified for the NCAA Championships took numerous titles throughout the 2000 season. She even hit 6-foot in one practice, but has yet to clear the pole during an actual competition.
"I’ve reached most of my goals this year except for jumping six feet which I hope to do this weekend," Denson said. "The highest I ever jumped in high school consistently was 5-8. I really believe it’s been the coaching because it has really helped me out this year. Everyone always told me I had the potential, but always thought to myself – that’s pretty high."
One person had little doubt about Denson and her true potential. TSU assistant coach Chris Baptista has helped the young star hone her natural abilities and feels the sky in the limit.
"I saw here last year at the Florida State High School Championships and was kind of surprised that no one had picked her up," Baptist said. "From what I saw in her potential wise I knew she would have a chance to qualify as a freshman and help get Troy State on the map.
"She’s the prototype build for a high jumper," he continued. "She’s tall and lean, has tremendous leaping ability. Her technique wasn’t there at all, that’s what was wrong. It was an easy fix though. When you tell her something she can turn around, knock it out and do it right the first time. She’s will be an olympic hopeful in 2004, there’s no doubt about that."
As for Denson, after writing her own ticket to Durham, North Carolina and the NCAA Championships, the chance to be the first Troy State athlete to compete on that level hasn’t been a walk in the park.
The extended season has meant countless hours of practice and dedication on the freshman’s part. While the rest of the team has hung up their cleats and many have gone home for the summer, Denson is out every day practicing and mapping out the steps she will have to take to compete on a national level.
"My ideal summer break is sitting at home watching TV and just hanging out," Denson said smiling. "It’s been hard and long, but my body is going to get used to it eventually and it will all be worth it.
"There’s definitely some competition, but I’m ready for it," she added. "Really all I’m concerned with is getting to go. I wouldn’t care if I jumped 5-7, I just want to be there."