Her college choice made, Jett set for senior season

December 19, 1993|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

When Kisha Jett decided on the University of Florida on Nov. 15, she breathed a sigh of relief that will last the rest of the year.

The Hammond track star committed her future to the strong Gainesville program at the first second possible in the early college signing period.

"I signed at 8 o'clock on the first day just to get it over with," said Jett, 18. "I have to admit that was a lot of stress off my back. I didn't want to go into this season having to prove myself to college coaches, because I thought I did that the last three years. I knew I could relax a little and have some fun in my senior year."

That does not mean Jett will be slowing down.

Her sprint speed and hurdling ability drew the attention of just about every college coach in the nation. Last year, she was ranked third in the nation indoors in the 55-meter hurdles and fourth outdoors in the 200 dash.

Almost every day during the fall, Hammond coach Pete Hughes found his school mailbox stuffed with envelopes marked with just two names -- Hughes and Jett. The recruiting process was a bit unnerving for Jett, especially with the flood of phone calls to her home in the evenings.

Jett thanks her mother and Hughes for screening the calls and the mail, and helping her narrow her choices to Florida, Illinois and North Carolina. Florida won out, Jett said, because she felt the most comfortable there.

She also has a friend at Florida, Eleanor Roosevelt graduate Ebony Robinson, whom Jett never beat in high school. In fact, Robinson, now a college sophomore, holds the state 200 record that Jett hopes to break in the spring.

Jett opened this indoor season by breaking a couple of meet records. At the Baltimore Metro Invitational, she set marks of 5.8 seconds in the 45-meter dash and 6.8 seconds in the 45-meter hurdles.

Those records fell despite the lingering effects of a sprained ankle suffered during soccer season.

"At this point, I'm taking it meet by meet. Sometimes it hurts really bad and sometimes not at all," said Jett, who holds the Golden Bears' career record for goals with 72.

A three-time All-Metro track and field selection, Jett is hot on the heels of a couple of state indoor track records. In the 55 dash, the state record is 6.9 seconds; Jett has run 7.0. In the 300 run, the mark is 40.4; Jett has run 40.6.

To shave those tenths of seconds off her times, Jett has added weight training to her regimen.

"The stronger she gets, the better her times are going to be," said Hughes. "When she moves on to the next level, she will be heavily involved in weight training, so we're trying to get her going three times a week at least to put on muscle."

With meet records falling and state records so close, Jett could have a long list of goals for the indoor season. Instead, she has just one -- qualifying for a return trip to the National Scholastic Indoor Track Championships.

"I like to set one main goal for indoor season and one for outdoor season," said Jett, who finished fifth in the pentathlon last year. "I don't know that much about records. I don't really know what times I run, because when you know what your times are you tend to feel you have to live up those expectations all the time."

Jett has high enough expectations for herself. She hopes to someday run in the Olympics but realizes how tough the competition will be.

"I'm not going to say that's my only goal, but that's my ultimate goal. It's a dream. I'd like to find out what the feeling is like to go to the Olympics," said Jett, whose brother, James, plays for the Los Angeles Raiders.

Jett holds Howard County records in the 55 dash, 55 hurdles and 300 dash indoors as well as in the 100, 200 and long jump outdoors.

Last spring, she swept four gold medals at the state track and field championships. Running for the Glenarden Track Club near Largo over the summer, Jett won silver in the 100 hurdles and bronze in the 100 dash at TAC Junior Olympics in New Orleans. She also helped her team to gold in the 4x100 relay.

"If she really dedicates herself to the weights, she could be Olympic caliber," said Hughes. "But it's really going to take her dedication to it. Not in '96, but 2000 puts her right about her prime."

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