After finishing in fifth place at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, North Carolina high jumper Nicole Greene felt like she had something to prove for her junior campaign.
When Greene began the season in January by clearing 6 feet and 2 inches, the best mark in the NCAA at the time, it was apparent that she was determined to reach her ultimate goal. Greene would eventually win her first ACC title this season, gaining momentum as she looked ahead to national competition.
A few months later on March 9, back on the national stage, the junior from Ponte Vedra, Fla., would have to give everything she had to make her dream of a national championship become a reality.
At the end of the competition, Greene was tied for first place with Cincinnati's Loretta Blaut, subsequently resulting in a climatic jump-off that would decide the NCAA title. Starting at 1.90 meters and working their way down, 0.02 meters at a time, both contestants failed to clear the bar on their first four assigned heights. It was at this point when fatigue began to sink in.
“It was like a marathon,” Greene said of the seemingly never-ending experience. “I just wanted to be done.”
Struggling with the relentless pace, and allowed only two-minute resting periods in between jumps, Greene thought to herself, over and over, "Please, let me get over the bar."
In every single round, Blaut was the first to jump, so when she missed the 1.82-meter height in the seventh round, this finally gave Greene the opportunity that she had been waiting for. Shortly afterward, the UNC high jumper prevailed over her exhaustion, as well as the ghosts of her past, to clear the bar and secure her first ever national championship.
“It was one of my all-time goals,” Greene said. “I felt relief of all of the hard work that I put in the fall, and all of the training and conditioning that I had to do for it — that was the satisfying moment of all of the things that I had done before. I had never done something like that in my life, but I was happy I was able to persevere through it."
Standing on the sideline of Texas A&M's Gilliam Indoor Stadium, hyping her star athlete throughout the entire duration of the event, UNC high jump coach Nicole Hudson attests that it was a depleting experience for everybody.